kitchen diary: march 21 & 22
the hungry roach and i decide to cook dinner for a few people at my apartment on saturday night. when planning our menu during the week, i think of a nigella lawson show i watched recently (i stick solely to the brits on food network…nigella and jamie oliver). she put together a feast of small mezze-like dishes, and it looked so good (and easy) that we decide to Get Mezze ourselves (sorry, i couldn’t resist). the past few months, i’ve cooked lots of squash and potatoes, roast chicken and other meats – hearty fare that gets me through the colder months. but i’m tired of those things. now, i want something more exotic and spicy – after a long winter, i’m ready to wake my palate up.
we stop by sahadi’s for cheeses, pistachios and smoked almonds, olives and pickled garlic, and pitas. we serve these alongside nigella’s dishes, which are all tinged with the scent of cumin, coriander, and subtle hits of cinnamon and allspice. first, a chunky red kidney bean dip, an inventive riff on hummus that is bright with lime. there is a badenjan dip (i love saying the name of that one), creamy and filled with smoky eggplant, a bit of saffron and mint. meg whips up a fatoush salad that is bright and perfect. but the stars of the show are these aromatic lamb meatballs, spicy and addictive. the meatballs are a new favorite, i think. we crowd around the table, piling our pitas with different combinations and when dinner is over, we’re too full for dessert. i think that’s a first! definitely a good sign that everyone enjoyed the food.
the next day is bright and sunny, and after a morning doing dishes, i’d like something simple for lunch. if i am eating lunch at home on the weekends, i like to make something more than a sandwich, my usual fare during the week. i decide to make molly’s chickpea salad (which, if you haven’t tried it before, is one of the easiest, most delicious, most addictive things ever. i mean it).
i mix together the chickpeas, add a bit of garlic, a glug of olive oil and fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and fresh parmesan. spooned over warmed leftover pitas, served alongside a bit of french feta cheese from last night, it’s a lunch that dirties one bowl, and leaves me completely satisfied.