Chickpea Pancakes + Oven-Roasted Tomatoes + Caramelized Onions

I sat on the stoop this morning drinking coffee, catching up on emails, and doing a bit of work. It was chilly – around 50 degrees – but the sun was shining and I was determined to get some rays on my face. Nothing like the morning sun to set your mood for the day.

Chickpea Pancakes (5)

This recipe comes mostly from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty. I added a few tweaks but the pancakes, the layering of flavors, the techniques – all Yotam’s genius at work. In subsequent servings I sprinkled roasted pumpkin seeds and Aleppo pepper on top. Smoked paprika would be lovely as well. The original recipe calls for a dollop of crème fraîche, which we happened to have on hand (homemade, in fact, by Eric!), but greek yogurt would work equally well.

Chickpea Pancakes (1)

So with this spring weather we’ve been enjoying lately, I am more and more excited about summer fun. I recently picked up a new sleeping bag for summer camping adventures. We’ve been borrowing Eric’s brother’s bag for a while now, so it was time to finally invest in our own. It is the coolest sleeping bag I have ever seen, and I’m so, SO excited to use it. I’m really trying hard to not wish away these beautiful spring days until our first camping trip of the season.

Chickpea Pancakes (2)

Chickpea Pancakes (8)

Chickpea Pancakes + Oven-Roasted Tomatoes + Caramelized Onions
adapted, slightly, from Plenty

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
drizzle of olive oil
pinch of salt, crackle of pepper

2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon za’atar or roasted thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt, crackle of pepper

1 3/4 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt, crackle of pepper
2 egg whites

arugula leaves, to serve
crème fraîche or greek yogurt, to serve

Preheat the oven to 275. Arrange the cherry tomatoes skin side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the onions, za’atar, and salt and pepper. After a minute, turn the heat to medium and slowly cook the onions until lightly caramelized, around 20-30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then combine with pancake batter. Heat a pan over medium heat and oil generously – enough so the pancakes don’t stick. Pour a small amount of the batter in the pan to form 6-8″ cakes. When holes and bubbles start to form, about 2 minutes, flip the cake and cook for another minute more. Continue until all the batter is gone.

To serve, layer the onions and tomatoes on top of the chickpea pancake. Top with arugula and crème fraîche as well as any other finishes you like – nuts, seeds, etc.

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Moroccan Chickpea & Millet Salad

Part of being back in school with a totally new schedule is figuring out how and when to eat. I used to have a pretty routine schedule – breakfast at home, sandwich for lunch, run, dinner at home. For one, I’m pretty sick of sandwiches. I just can’t eat them anymore. And two, I’m not home or away at such predictable times anymore. One thing I have been doing to make sure I always have food with me (after all, now that my income is about a quarter of what it once was, we and I cannot afford to just go buy a $10 lunch whenever I am hungry) is to make a big batch of interesting and nutritious salads. I’ve also been carrying around homemade granola that is pretty awesome – I’ll share that recipe soon also.

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Anyway, this recipe was inspired by this Moroccan Chickpea recipe I saw recently on Serious Eats. I changed it up a bit and added some millet to add a little more substance for lunch. Millet is a new favorite of mine. It sort of feels and tastes like couscous, and it cooks up very quickly. I’ve also been looking for a way to use the preserved lemons that I made at the beginning of the summer, and this recipe fit perfectly. You can make your own by following this recipe or just use some fresh lemon zest and a little salt.

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Moroccan Chickpea & Millet Salad

Extra virgin olive oil
~1/2 pound spinach, rinsed and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 large tomato
diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 preserved lemon rind, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup millet
salt and pepper

Combine the millet with 2 1/2 cups water in a pot, let the water come to an almost boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it sit for 20-25 minutes. Sauté the garlic in a little olive oil in a large pan for a minute or two, then add the chickpeas. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, tomato, cumin, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Add this mixture and the red wine vinegar to the pan with chickpeas and garlic and stir to make sure all the chickpeas are covered in this mixture. Now add the spinach and continue to cook until there is no more liquid in the pan. Pull off the heat and set aside. When the millet is finished, toss it with the chickpeas, preserved lemons, and salt and pepper.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

I must say, I really felt sad when the weather started feeling like fall and I realized that summer really was over. In the last couple weeks, though, I’ve embraced the cool air – I can wear that really cute jacket I bought at the end of spring earlier this year, running is perfect for a few weeks, and best of all, it is soup season.

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I would easily consider soup to be one of my all time favorite foods. Any soup, really. I love soaking it up with a really good piece of bread and even better, it pairs perfectly with my other favorite food – salad. So when I was at the market last weekend rubbing shoulders with Rick Bayless – yes, we live in the same neighborhood and yes, I had my first sighting of him at our local market (!!), I picked up the last load of summer tomatoes.

I saw this recipe for tomato soup earlier in the summer but wanted to wait until fall, when I can bear a warm soup and am okay with the idea of cooking the perfect-as-they-are heirlooms. I think this soup would also work well with good canned tomatoes – I will definitely be trying that throughout winter. I served this soup with some fantastic sourdough bread from La Boulangerie, a new bakery in Logan Square that bakes up fresh loaves three times daily – and they post the times they’re fresh baked, so you can scoop one up just as it comes out of the oven.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

adapted, quite a bit actually, from Serious Eats

3 pounds tomatoes, quartered
2-3 whole  carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
15-20 garlic cloves (yes – a lot of garlic!)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup greek yogurt
crumbles of blue cheese or feta

Combine the olive oil with tomatoes, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper, eggplant, and chickpeas. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for ~45 minutes at 425°F. To be careful, you could roast all these separately until each one is perfectly tender, but I’m a timesaver and roasted all together – it worked fine.

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Once roasted, put about half of the veggies in a blend and puree until smooth. The original recipe called for pureeing everything except the eggplant and chickpeas – you could do that as well. Just depends on what chunks you want in your soup, if any. Pour the pureed soup and extra veggies in a pot with the curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chicken stock – add more or less stock to get the desired consistency.

Bring to a boil then let simmer for 5-10 minutes. At the last minute, stir in the yogurt for a creamy finish. Garnish with cilantro, cheese, and if you’re feeling frisky, a drizzle of good olive oil.