Thursday, April 30, 2009

The unofficial bloggers Meet-up

When I first met K of westside foodie wannabes at a happy hour organized by cincinnati imports, it was brief. We exchanged hellos, blog names and email addresses. And we left off at let’s get together for dinner sometime. Stemming from that was a dinner planned at K’s place with couple of us. There was the other half of their blog, the silent (as she named herself) B, Liz of… well you know where, and myself. Husbands were invited and theirs came however The Husband was not in attendance.

With great company, we had delicious food too! Would it be anything less from food bloggers? K made an appetizer with sliced radishes, cream cheese and ginger on bread, and although I am describing it unappetizingly, it was delicious! She also made pork tenderloin marinated in teriyaki sauce and Greek salad. Liz made a Broccoli salad, I brought Spanish style Chickpea salad and B made peanut butter cookies.

For salad recipes, I’d seen lots of chickpea and spinach recipes but nothing with just chickpeas. So as I do with anything that I can’t find a recipe for, I created my own. The main ingredients I wanted to use were onions, garlic, paprika, saffron and cumin. As Liz says, I rarely cook without cumin and she’s right; it’s one of those spices that I’d eat on a toast if I could. Actually that’d be a foul combination.

But I digress. The chickpeas. I am attempting to bring beans back, maybe bringing them back isn’t it since they were never in, but incorporate them in the menu as much as possible. Since most, not all, Hindus are vegetarians, beans and lentils are consumed often for their nutritional value. They are low in fat, high in vitamins and protein. Hence integrating them more in the cooking. And Oprah announced them one of the Superfoods, so it must be cool to eat them. Chickpeas, navy beans, black beans, kidney beans and lentils like moong or mung (green bean, not the vegetable), masoor (red lentils), toor or tuvar (pigeon peas) all fall into the Superfood category.

Spanish Chickpea Salad

1 1/2 cups dried* or 2 16-ounce cans of chickpeas**
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil- Spanish is preferred
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
pinch of saffron soaked in 1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 roasted Roma tomatoes***, chopped with seeds and all
Liquid from cooked chickpeas, vegetable stock would work as well

*Soak dried beans in water overnight. Cook them in a pressure cooker, saucepan or slow cooker. In a pressure cooker, cook the beans with enough water to cover and for 5 whistles. Drain the beans but save the cooking liquid. Note: dried beans will double in size and quantity after soaking overnight therefore 1 1/2 cups dried will yield 3 cups of cooked beans.

**I’ve stopped buying canned chickpeas because they contain much more sodium than the ones I make myself. And I understand not everyone has the time to use dried so for convenience sake, feel free to use canned. Be sure to monitor the salt during cooking.

***Roast tomatoes in a 200F degree oven for 3- 4 hours. It can be prepared ahead of time.

In a 12 inch skillet or fry pan, heat Spanish olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add minced garlic, paprika, saffron, cumin and red wine vinegar and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in chopped roasted tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add drained chickpeas and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid or stock and stir to combine everything. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cook until 80% of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and serve warm or room temperature. I believe it can be served cold but I am not sure because I haven’t tried it. Please share your thoughts if you have had cold chickpea salad.

The salad seemed to be a hit with everyone. The only change I would make is to soak the saffron in water (a step I added to this recipe) to concentrate its flavor. I did not do this initially. K's pork was amazing, tender and moist. I've eaten a lot of dried, overcooked pork recently so it was a good change from that. I hope we convinced Liz to stop tweaking the broccoli salad because the combination is now perfect. And B's cookies were damn good. And that's saying a lot. Seeing that I never write about peanut butter in my cooking proves that I am not a fan of it. (Something about not growing up with it.) But I happily accept and eat peanut butter cookies because nothing says good dessert better than butter, dough and peanut butter baked into one. Overall a great evening of tasty food, meeting new people on the westside, and socializing. Thanks for hosting K!


Katie Zeller said...

I've really been getting into chickpeas lately - but, usually with spinach hehehe This looks excellent!

k said...

glad we could get together - it was so much fun! and i am going to attempt to make your wonderful chickpea salad - chickpeas are the one bean i can actually stand, and you made them even more appealing!

liberal foodie said...

katie- I agree. And I usually make them with spinach too! I am glad I tried this without the spinach- they turned out good.

K- likewise. Let me know how it goes.

5chw4r7z said...

Are you coming out Friday for the imports?
We'll be there somewhere, you could meet the Ms.s

Unknown said...

Wow! chick peas salad sounds delicious...i wanna try it..looks something different for me..right away i'm gonna get the ingredients from and try these.

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog - great recipes! Do you have a recipe posted somewhere for the picture on your homepage? Looks like a pasta with whitebeans and maybe asparagus?