Monday, February 4, 2013

Chickpea Salad (Balilah)

I have a problem.

Despite the hundreds of post-it-notes peaking out from recipes waiting to be made in the scores of cookbooks I already own, I can't stop myself from bringing home just one more. Ever. But it could be worse - orphans, kittens, Maseratis.

I read cookbooks cover to cover. Based on the number of flagrant typos I come across, it seems not many other people do that. Shelf space is long gone so my most recent acquisitions reside in the middle of the kitchen island as a centerpiece of sorts. Mufasa's been kind enough not to mention it.

My current obsession is Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. The photos are reason enough to buy the book but the message of hope, tolerance, and community is why you need to own it now. And the recipes!

Despite all the food challenges I run up against on a daily basis (textural sensitivity, nut allergy, egg allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis, diabetes, 4-year-olds...) it's awesome that Roo and Bean both love beans. Looly is another story but she's easily satiated with other forms of protein as long as they're accompanied by lemon wedges. Lemon steak? Don't knock it til you've tried it.

Beans, though. Beans are such perfect 4-year-old sustenance. Protein, fiber, folate, and no knife skills required. Garbanzos are Bean's absolute favorite and thanks to this fresh, lemony recipe courtesy of Jerusalem, they were in her lunchbox all last week.
Keep in mind that when using dried beans they're going to need to soak overnight. Try not to used canned beans here if you can help it. It's worth the wait.

Chickpea Salad (Balilah)
adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

1 cup dried chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 green onions,thinly sliced
1 large lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
2 & 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced or microplaned to a pulp
salt and pepper

1. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover them with plenty of cold water. Add the baking soda and let them sit out to soak overnight or at least 8 hours. They will have nearly doubled in volume by morning.
2. Drain the chickpeas and put them in a large pot covered once again with lots of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the foamy goop off the top of the water, turn down the heat and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The beans will cook faster or slower depending on how fresh they are. Check them often after the first hour of cooking. They should yield when pinched between your fingers but fight the urge to cook them until they are mushy.
3. Meanwhile, put the parsley in a large bowl. Use a lemon zester or Microplane grater to zest the lemon (about 1 tbsp zest) into the parsley. Cut both ends off the lemon and using a sharp knife, remove the skin, the bitter white pith, and any seeds and discard. Chop the lemon flesh and add it to the bowl with the zest and parsley.
4. When the beans are soft (but not mushy!), drain them and add them while they're hot to the bowl with the parsley mixture. Add the olive oil, cumin, and garlic. Toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Don't be stingy with the pepper. Serve at room temperature or in a lunchbox.

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