Really Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix Recipe

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

Snacks are tough.  My kids come home from school very hungry and they can eat a lot.  I want to offer them something nutritious obviously, but I don’t have a ton of time to make homemade snacks every day.   Some of my default snacks are hummus with veggies or whole grain crackers, rice cakes with nut butter, quesadillas, yogurt with granola, almond flour muffins, apples and bananas with nut butter, and smoothies.  Stovetop popcorn and granola bars are common, too.  If I left my son to his own devices, I’m sure he would polish off a pint of ice cream or a bag of tortilla chips, but he has homework to focus on and soccer practice or religious school, so he needs better fuel than that.

chickpeas for roasting

I’ve been intrigued by the appearance of “chickpea croutons” on dozens of salads I have seen all over Pinterest.  The cooked chickpeas are roasted until crunchy, sometimes seasoned with spices, and are a more nutritious alternative to croutons, which are basically small greasy bites of white toast.  I must have a little crunch in my salad, but I prefer the idea of chickpeas over croutons.  However, with all due respect to those who posted those crunchy chickpea recipes, most of them don’t work.  Either the chickpeas do not ever become crunchy or they only stay crunchy for a few hours and then they become soft, like real chickpeas.  My son actually likes chickpeas and he likes trailmix, so I had an idea to make crunchy chickpeas and mix them with nuts + dried fruit + dark chocolate = crunchy chickpea trailmix, a perfect snack.  Except I tried at least a dozen recipes and the chickpeas always eventually became soggy, until one time I roasted them in the oven for a little while and then turned the oven off but left the chickpeas in there.  In this way, they wouldn’t burn, but they would continue to dry out.  Ta da!  Winner!  This is the whole key to truly crisp-like-a-cracker chickpeas.

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

We are not nut-free in our house, nor do my kids go to nut-free schools, but I know there are a lot of families out there who contend with this challenge.  This trail mix is easy to make nut-free since the chickpeas make a great sub for nuts, and they are both high in protein which is something I always look for in a good snack.  And believe me, I am not trying to replace nuts.  Nuts are super good for you with exceptionally healthful fats, protein and fiber, BUT they are also high in calories and I have been known to overeat nuts without realizing it and it is possible to eat too much of a nutritious food if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight.  Like I said in my last post, I would be really skinny if nut butter didn’t exist!  The nice thing about trail mix is that you can make it with whatever you have and to your liking.  I love a good balance of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, with a touch of dark chocolate for fun.  Trail mix is my go-to snack for traveling since it keeps really well, although in the summer I usually omit the chocolate so there’s no risk of melting.

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

Every time I teach any recipe, someone asks me, “Does Mr. Picky like this?”  90% of the recipes I teach, he does like/tolerate.  He ate almost an entire pan of crunchy chickpeas in one sitting.  We all loved these and I haven’t even begun to experiment with savory seasonings.  As long as you have the method down pat, you should definitely play around with different spices, like garlic powder + smoked paprika, cumin + cinnamon + cayenne, just to name a couple.  I think these would be amazing on salads, or on soups or on top of creamy dips like hummus, or as a “bar snack,” to serve with cocktails.  These would even make a great hostess gift, especially if you’ve already given everyone you know homemade granola too many times. 😉  I can’t wait to hear if you try this recipe.  Or just let me know about your experience roasting chickpeas until now!

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

5.0 from 2 reviews
Really Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix
Author: 
Serves: 2½ cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup, Grade A or Grade B
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup goji berries or other dried fruit of choice, such as dried blueberries or cherries
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate pieces
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
  • ¼ cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes (I do this in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until golden brown)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Pat chickpeas dry as best you can. Remove whatever skins are loose. Place chickpeas on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and add coconut oil, maple syrup and salt and toss to coat. Put back in the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. If a few pop, that’s ok.
  4. Turn the oven off. Toss the chickpeas with spices. Return pan to the oven and with the oven door closed and the heat off, allow the chickpeas to sit in the warm oven for another hour or until perfectly crunchy. You’ll have to test one to be sure. It should be dry and airy. If they’re still not crunchy, leave in the oven with the door closed and the heat off until they are crunchy through and through. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  5. Combine cooled chickpeas with dried fruit, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and toasted coconut. The crunchy chickpeas combine well with many different ingredients for a trail mix, so feel free to make swaps according to what you have on hand or what you like.

 

Baked Falafel Recipe

baked falafel | pamela salzman

One day I woke up and decided I had to have falafel.  Falafel are deep-fried balls of pulsed chickpeas blended with herbs, onion and garlic.  Sometimes they are made with a combination of broad beans and chickpeas and sometimes that contain a lot of herbs which make them rather green on the inside.  They’re so tasty and a great high-protein, vegetarian food that you can eat in a sandwich or on a salad or dipped into a sauce.  My family and I love falafel and one day I just had such a craving for them.  I wanted the works — pita bread, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickled radishes.

baked falafel | pamela salzman

But the fact that falafel are deep-fried is a major turn-off to me, especially food that is deep-fried in a restaurant, as opposed to at my house, because restaurants use and re-use the same low-quality oil over and over again.  Deep-fried foods are just a big plate of inflammation, bad for digestion, bad for the heart, bad for the blood, bad for the skin, just B.A.D.  Knowing how awful deep-fried foods are is a little bit of a curse because it’s hard for me to enjoy them, even in moderation.  But I wanted to make real, authentic falafel that I would un-authetically bake.  So naturally I went on Youtube to learn how to make them.  Sure there are plenty of blogs with falafel recipes, but a lot of these recipes are not the real deal.  For the real deal, I watched falafel-making videos from Israel and I learned everything I needed to know and then some!

raw soaked chickpeas

For example, falafel are made with raw, soaked chickpeas, not canned.  The texture is a bit crumbly, not a mashed potato patty.  There are no eggs in falafel.  And after watching a few videos of expert falafel-makers, I really wished I had a meat grinder (which is what most of them use) to process the all the ingredients into the perfect texture.  But my food processor was good enough and the next day (because I let my chickpeas soak 24 hours), we enjoyed very delicious, healthy baked falafel.  And although falafel has a bit of oiliness from frying, I didn’t even notice the absence of oil since I smothered the patties with a delicious tahini sauce.

pulse everything in the food processor

 

pulsed until it resembles couscous

My son, who is known to be a tad picky, devours anywhere from 6-10 falafel at dinner when I make them.  For sure he loves to eat them in pita, especially if the pita is homemade and warm from the oven (I used this Martha Stewart Living recipe with success.)  But he (and we) is just as happy wrapping a few falafel in a big lettuce leaf with some sauce.  Falafel make the perfect Meatless Monday dinner since they contain lots of protein from the chickpeas and the tahini sauce.  You can also make them spicier with an extra pinch of cayenne.  If I know I’m going to have a crazy afternoon, I’ll make the sauce and shape the falafel in the morning and bake them at the end of the day for a really easy dinner.  Add some lettuce and tomatoes for a simple dinner or go the extra mile with pickled vegetables, pita, and some grilled eggplant.

falafel

Even though I am really against deep frying and I had great results baking these, you can certainly “sauté” these falafel in a skillet with some olive oil until golden and crisp on both sides.  It is a much faster way to cook these and they will have a little bit more of an authentic greasiness.  But the baked version does it for me just fine.  I hope you’ll give them a try!

baked falafel | pamela salzman

baked falafel | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Falafel Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: makes 20-24 falafel
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cup dried chickpeas (do NOT use canned chickpeas)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley (or mix with chopped cilantro)
  • ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour or GF flour blend or chickpea flour
  • unrefined cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the pan and the falafel


  • Sauce:

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup – ½ cup warm water to achieve right consistency and depending on the bitterness of the tahini
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Put dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Soak 12-24 hours, making sure chickpeas stay completely submerged in water the entire time.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and grease the paper with olive oil.
  3. Drain the chickpeas, and add to a food processor with garlic, onion, spices, salt and pepper, baking soda, lemon juice, parsley and flour. (Use a meat grinder if you have one.) Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides as necessary, until it looks like couscous. The mixture will be quite crumbly.
  4. Form the mixture into about 20 balls, 1 ½ inches each. Press down on the tops to flatten them into thick patties. You can add a little extra flour if they are not holding together. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes on each side or until golden. You can fry them in oil, as well (not as healthy.)
  6. Blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender adjusting water to achieve right consistency. You want a thin sauce.
  7. Serve falafel with tahini sauce in a pita or lettuce leaves. Chopped tomato and cucumber salad is a nice accompaniment.

 

Vegetarian Chopped Antipasto Salad Recipe

Vegetarian Chopped Antipasto Salad | Pamela Salzman

I learned via osmosis from watching my parents entertain that an antipasto platter is really all you need with drinks before dinner.  It’s certainly simple enough for the busy host to put together, and always popular with guests because all those salty foods taste wonderful with cocktails.  But there are antipasto platters and there are antipasto platters.  My parents always had the best stuff because every time my father went to Italy, he would wedge all sorts of cheeses and salamis in his suitcases to bring back home.  Actually, he still does it!  But beyond delicious cheeses and cured meats were always beautiful olives, marinated artichokes, homemade roasted peppers with garlic and herbs and some crusty bread to put it all on.  I don’t eat most of that anymore, but I still reminisce about the delicious flavors.

lettuces

soak onions or shallots in ice water to mellow the flavor

When I saw this amazing salad at Mozza, Nancy Silverton’s restaurant, it reminded me of my parents’ antipasto platters, but probably better for you since it’s disguised as a salad.  I have been a Nancy Silverton fan since her days at Campanile and The La Brea Bakery.  I think everything she creates is utterly delicious.  It’s called the “Nancy’s Chopped Salad” and it’s almost famous in LA.  Chock full of chickpeas, provolone cheese, salami and tomatoes, and a zesty oregano dressing, it’s similar to, but way better than, a lot of house salads I have had at Italian restaurants in the US, including the one they had at the old La Scala restaurant in Beverly Hills.  That said, I couldn’t help but tinker with this salad to make it vegetarian, and a little lighter.

roasted artichokes

I taught my version of this salad in my classes this year, but encouraged everyone to adjust the ingredients to suit their tastes.  I love, love, love bitter lettuces like radicchio, but when I am hoping to appeal to younger kids with this salad, I substitute red cabbage which is much milder, but just as crunchy and healthful.  Sometimes I’m feeling cheesy and with a vegetable peeler I’ll shave lots of Pecorino or Parmesan into the salad (see top image), but if I’m not in the mood, I’ll just take my microplane and dust a bit on top (see image below.)  My favorite part is the roasted artichoke hearts, which is my sub for the salami.  Obviously they don’t taste the same.  I haven’t completely gone off the deep end.  But there is something really hearty and substantial about the artichokes, especially if they get a nice crispy edge to them.

veggies for the salad

During the summer, it’s not unusual for me to make a hearty salad for dinner.  I always have Mr. Picky take out what he wants before I dress it because he’s not open to vinaigrettes yet.  He will eat plain chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce and the occasional pickled pepper.  And Mr. Picky’s dad, my husband, has really come around to the Meatless Monday schedule.  He used to look at me with raised eyebrows when I made a dinner without animal protein, but lately he’s been much more open to a very veggie dinner or weekend lunch.  They all come around, don’t they!

Vegetarian Chopped Antipasto Salad | Pamela Salzman

Vegetarian Chopped Antipasto Salad Recipe
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, quartered and patted dry
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half of a small red onion or 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thinly, about 8 cups
  • 1 head radicchio or half of a small head of red cabbage, sliced thinly, about 4 cups
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ounce block of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler and crumbled or grated with a microplane (feel free to use less)
  • 5 pepperoncini, stems cut off and discarded, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Place the artichoke pieces on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
  2. Optional: in a small bowl, soak the onion slices in ice water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. This will cut the harsh flavor of the raw onion. If you don’t mind raw onion, don’t bother soaking.
  3. Place the lettuces in a large serving bowl. Add the roasted artichokes, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, cheese, pepperoncini, and onion.
  4. Prepare the dressing: in a medium bowl or in a screw-top jar, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
  5. Drizzle enough dressing on salad to lightly coat. Toss and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.
Notes
Do not for a minute think you need to follow this recipe exactly.  Just don't add so many extra ingredients that you don't have enough dressing.  Cannelini beans are a great sub for chickpeas, you can add sundried tomatoes in the winter instead of fresh, add chunks of fresh mozzarella or pieces of fontina or Havarti cheese instead of Parmesan.  The original recipe calls for provolone.  Radicchio looks so pretty, but arugula would taste great, too.

 

 

Caldo Tlalpeño Soup Recipe (with quinoa!)

Caldo Tlalpeno Soup |Pamela Salzman

I think I was 19 years old when I tried avocado for the first time.  No joke.  In my defense, I was living on Long Island and we ate according to the seasons, and fairly locally, in the old days.  I don’t remember ever even seeing an avocado in our supermarkets, let alone my mom buying one and knowing what to do with it.  Even when I went to college in Philadelphia, I don’t recall any Mexican restaurants on campus or avocado at the dining hall salad bars.

saute the aromatics

But I do remember visiting my college boyfriend in LA over Christmas break sophomore year.  There was a new fast-food-style Mexican restaurant that had just opened up in his neighborhood called Baja Fresh.  I was open-minded even though I had never had Mexican food before.  I didn’t eat meat then, so I ordered a rice and black bean burrito with salsa and guacamole on the side.  (I seriously can’t remember where I put the new lip gloss I bought on Saturday, but I always remember food.)  LIFE CHANGING MOMENT.  It was like the time my son tried a Slurpee at 7-Eleven when he was 4 years old and said to my husband, “Why I not have this before?”  Exciting, but at the same time, a little depressing to think of all that you have missed out on.

add tomatoes, oregano and chipotles

Since then, truly since then, I have become obsessed with Mexican food.  Not gross, greasy, cheesy, heavy Mexican food.  I am more drawn to fresh flavors, salsas, rice, beans, cilantro, and one of my favorite foods EVER, avocado.  Maybe I didn’t move to LA after college graduation to be in the same city as my boyfriend.  Maybe I did it for the Mexican food.  I was young and crazy.  Who knows.  Crazy enough that I’m still here 20+ years later and I’ve never said no to a taco.

simmer until carrots are tender

Long story short, I am always looking for new and different Mexican recipes to try on my family.  There are only so many fish tacos and chicken fajitas that they’ll put up with. When I saw a recipe for Caldo Tlalpeño soup, I knew right away that this would be a keeper.  There are so many variations on this soup, which I think of as a slightly spicy, smoky Mexican chicken soup.  Chipotles, which are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers, are always the star of the show.   Without them, this would just be a chicken and vegetable soup.  Although the ingredients in Caldo Tlalpeño vary from region to region and restaurant to restaurant, you cannot make this soup without the chiles.  I have also seen versions with diced zucchini, green beans, chayote, or rice.  Epazote is a traditional herb used in this soup, but it’s not easy for everyone to find, so I often use orgeano in its place.  Not an exact, perfect sub, but good enough.

Caldo Tlalpeno Soup

One of my favorite things about Mexican food is adding all those great toppings and condiments.  So many of my favorite dishes are incomplete without salsa or guacamole or cilantro or radishes or all of the above.  The topping bar is also my secret weapon with Mr. Picky.  He’ll eat almost anything if he is allowed to top it with corn tortilla chips or diced avocado. Caldo Tlalpeño is great on its own, but I make this a full meal with a little cooked quinoa (not at all traditional, but amazing here), a pinch of sheep’s milk feta (also nontraditional, but delish,) and a squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro.  So light, fresh, healthful and delicious.

Caldo Tlalpeno Soup with a twist | Pamela Salzman

Cinco de Mayo is coming next Monday, why not make this fabulous soup with a side of quesadillas or my Mexican chopped salad?  For some other great ideas for the perfect fiesta, try these recipes:

Tortilla Soup

Chicken and Avocado Soup with Lime

Mexican Chopped Salad

Turkey or Beef Tacos

Avocado, Mago, Jicama Salad

Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas Verdes

Fajitas

Perfect Guacamole and Baked Tortilla Chips

caldo tlalpeno soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Caldo Tlalpeño Soup
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce jar diced tomatoes (I like Jovial tomatoes in glass jars.)
  • 4-6 whole dried chipotle chiles (use fewer for less heat*), or 2 canned chipotles in adobo (I much prefer the dried chiles.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt (1-3 teaspoons according to whether or not your stock is salted)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 cups baby leafy greens
  • Optional accompaniments: lime, fresh cilantro, crumbled cojita or feta cheese, cooked quinoa or rice, shredded and cooked chicken, diced avocado
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chiles, and oregano and sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas, sea salt and stock. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook covered until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the greens and turn off the heat. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Serve with suggested accompaniments if desired.
Notes
*4 chiles makes this soup about a 2-3 on a heat scale of 1-10.   Eating them whole however, is quite spicy.  You can dice them up or puree them with a little broth when the soup is finished and  serve them with the other condiments/toppings for an extra kick.

 

Butternut squash and chickpea stew recipe

butternut squash and chickpea stew | pamela salzman

I have been consistently making Monday our meatless night, although I often have another vegetarian dinner during the week as well.  This week I was excited to cook something with one of the many winter squashes I have bought recently.  I taught this vegan butternut squash and chickpea stew last February and I was waiting for the change in seasons to make it again.  As opposed to most stews, this one doesn’t take hours to cook and was perfect for a busy weeknight.  Actually, I was so busy on Monday that I had to serve it with white basmati rice instead of brown rice (nobody’s perfect!)  I also made a delicious kale salad with avocados, pomegranates and sliced almonds.  It was the perfect meal for me.  I also love this stew because it can be made the day before and reheated, or made earlier in the afternoon and left on the stove, off the heat, until dinner time.

brown onions

coconut oil and onions

 

spices

I was really delighted that my son, also known as, but soon to be formerly known as, Mr. Picky, ate everything on his plate (kale, chickpeas, carrots, onions, rice) except the butternut squash.  This is major progress and I am very encouraged by how far he has come since the days not too long ago when he wouldn’t have eaten a single bite of this stew.  Small steps, but they all get there eventually.

butternut squash

stew in the making

This stew has a little bit of a Moroccan kick to it.  I used really flavorful (and anti-inflammatory) spices like turmeric, ginger, coriander and a little cayenne.  The cayenne gives it just enough heat, but not too much that you would think this is spicy.  I think this would be delicious for a Halloween dinner, whether you are entertaining or just filling everyone up before trick-or-treating.  That’s my strategy, you know.  I don’t prohibit the kids from eating a little candy on Halloween night, but I give them a nice hearty, substantial dinner so they’re not hungry when they leave the house.  Pretty tricky, Mom!

butternut squash and chickpea stew | pamela salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or olive oil (I use coconut oil and I really like Barlean’s)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning at the end
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (feel free to add more if you like it)
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups 1-inch cubes of peeled butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 14 ounces boxed, drained
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • a handful of golden raisins or currants
  • 1 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Add salt, pepper and all spices to the onions. Sauté for a minute.
  3. Add the squash and carrots and toss to coat with the spices.
  4. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, chickpeas, raisins and stock/water. Bring to a boil and cover. Lower the heat and simmer over low or medium/low heat until squash is tender and flavors have melded, about 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper as desired.
Notes
Feel free to stir some spinach or chopped chard leaves in at the end.  Delicious served over quinoa, millet, rice, spaghetti squash or couscous.

 

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

Why is the best hummus always in restaurants, especially Middle Eastern ones?  I think I make a delicious, flavorful hummus that has a great consistency and is better than the ones you find in the supermarket.  But, it doesn’t compare to the silky, light and creamy hummus that I’ve had in restaurants.  I want that kind.  The kind that will drip, not plop, off your pita if you’re not careful.  The kind you can suck up with a straw.  You know what I mean.

cook the soaked, drained chickpeas with a little baking soda before boiling

skim off the skins

I got into bed with a book the other night, because reading helps me wind down and relax from my typically crazy day.  But of course, I read cookbooks in bed before I go to sleep which is an absolutely terrible idea because that does nothing to quiet my overactive brain which doesn’t stop thinking, thinking, thinking!  Regardless, I was reading Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s not-so-new, but gorgeous book , “Jerusalem.”  So many recipes, so little time, people.  I turned to their recipe for “Basic Hummus” and I swear I almost flipped the page without so much as a glance, because like I said, I already have a perfectly great hummus recipe which I have actually turned into four different flavors.  But then I thought “have some respect, you never know.”

drain the chickpeas and process to a chunky paste

love this raw tahini

The word “supersmooth” caught my attention immediately and then I knew I found it — the hummus of my dreams.  Let me jump to the chase.  The Ottolenghi hummus is the kind I love at restaurants and they tell me all their secrets.  Most importantly, the chickpea skins are removed after cooking and before pureeing.  I know!!!  Why didn’t I think of that?  But before you think I have the kind of time to sit around peeling chickpea skins, think again.  After soaking and draining the chickpeas, they are cooked with a little baking soda and then water is added to boil the beans.  Most of the skins float to the top of the pot and you just skim them away.  I know!!!  Brilliant.  They also add a lot more tahini (sesame paste) than I do which makes the hummus so creamy.  And water.  I would never have thought to add water, but it really makes the hummus lighter and cleaner than adding the chickpea liquid which is how I do it.  “Better late than never,” is what I was thinking.

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

I wouldn’t say that my first attempt came out quite as smooth as Ottolenghi’s primarily because not all the chickpeas lost their skins and I was not about to go peeling them, but it was really, really good and very smooth.  You can see the image of that below.  I also tasted the hummus after adding 2/3 cup of tahini instead of the recommended 1 cup + 2 Tbs. and I thought it was divine.  I made it a second time and did take the time to pull off any skins that didn’t come off during the boiling process and the hummus was a tad bit creamier, but I’m not sure it was worth the extra 12 minutes it took me to do that.  You should do whatever makes sense to you and if you have the time, feel free to pick out every last skin.  For that matter, you can buy canned cooked chickpeas and pull off the skins and proceed from there.

This is the one I made first where I did not remove every single last chickpea skin.
This is the one I made first where I did not remove every single last chickpea skin.

I served this to friends the other night, friends who have had my hummus a million times and they all said “where did you get this?  This is so good.”  I know, a tad insulting since the implication was that I could not have made it, but I was totally fine with that.  Since then, we’ve enjoyed this immensely with pita bread and raw veggies (wow, I could actually hear you yawn through the computer), slathered on a baguette with grilled veggies and slow roasted tomatoes (my recommendation), and dolloped on a Greek salad with chicken souvlaki (we had this for dinner the other night — major hit!).  There is an insanely beautiful picture in the book of the hummus topped with whole cooked chickpeas, pine nuts, chopped parsley, cooked lamb and the whole thing drizzled with olive oil.  A-mazing.

Grilled veggies, slow roasted tomatoes and hummus on baguette | pamela salzman

No matter how you make it, hummus is rather nutritious and especially high in protein and fiber.  It’s one of the more healthful spreads and dips, provided you don’t go to crazy on the pita bread or chips.  I have even used it in place of mayonnaise in chicken salad.  I have even eaten it with a spoon.  I have even dreamt about it.  You will too, until you make it!

Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus by Pamela Salzman

jacked up hummus | pamela salzman

4.7 from 10 reviews
Supersmooth, Light-as-Air Hummus
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup light tahini paste (Ottolenghi recommends 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons, but I thought anywhere between ⅔ and 1 cup was great)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 6 ½ Tablespoons ice cold water
  • Unrefined olive oil and sweet paprika for finishing, if desired
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with at least 4 inches of cold water. Allow to soak 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain the chickpeas. In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the drained chickpeas and the baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by at least 2 inches. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming off and foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas cook faster this way and may only need from 20-40 minutes to become tender, but possibly longer. You know they’re done if you can squish a chickpea in between your thumb and forefinger.
  3. Drain the chickpeas. You will have about 3⅔ cups. Transfer the chickpeas to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until you get a stiff paste. With the machine running, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Lastly, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes until you get a really smooth and creamy paste. I actually set my timer for 5 minutes and washed the dishes in the meantime.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and allow the hummus to rest for at least 30 minutes. If not serving right away, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to remove it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. If desired, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.
Notes
*Or you can use 2 15-ounce cans of cooked chickpeas, drained, and peel the skins manually. Place the peeled chickpeas in the food processor and proceed with Step 3.

Chickpea Burger Recipe

If I had to pick one cuisine to stick with for the rest of my life, it would be a tough a call.  But I could easily live off of Mediterranean food every day.  I love the emphasis on fresh vegetables, olive oil, legumes and whole grains, cheeses and fish.  Whether it’s Italian, Greek, or Israeli, this way of eating is definitely my comfort zone.  And living in Southern California makes cooking Mediterranean-style quite easy with an availability of similar varieties of fresh produce, nuts, dates and olives.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things to do is to take a not-so-healthful food that I love and turn it into something I can enjoy regularly.  Many years ago I decided to try making falafel (the deep-fried Middle Eastern chickpea nuggets) a little less “deep-fried.”  (Ok, not everything Mediterranean is healthful.)  Many iterations later I found myself with a delightful, substantial chickpea burger which in turn began my obsession with veggie burgers.  I don’t love meat and poultry so much, although I think they are excellent sources of protein if you can find organic, pastured varieties.  But I do love hearty, flavorful vegetarian food that makes me feel satisfied, especially anything bean-based which is loaded with low-fat protein and tons of insoluble fiber.  I also like having recipes like this for entertaining when I always like to offer a vegetarian option (you’d be surprised how many people choose not to eat meat these days.)

These chickpea burgers are a favorite of mine and my whole family, even Mr. Picky who I am pleased to announce tried one for the first time last week with ketchup.  Do what you’ve gotta do, friends.  They are definitely a far cry from falafel, though.  In fact, the only ingredients that falafel and these chickpea burgers have in common are chickpeas and cumin.  But if I do it right, they’re crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and with flavors that remind of falafel.  I usually eat veggie burgers sans bun since I find that they are plenty starchy without adding bread.  But when serving them to family and friends, I offer warmed, whole wheat pita halves and an array of yummy toppings including sprouts, avocado, tomato slices, lettuce, cooked onion and most importantly, a creamy and refreshing sauce.  In my opinion, it’s all about the condiments!

Chickpea burgers (and veggie burgers, in general) are fabulous for entertaining and for busy weeknights since they are best formed in advance and refrigerated so they firm up a bit.  Out of the fridge, they cook up in minutes on a hot griddle or skillet.  Once you realize how tasty these are, you’ll make a double batch and freeze half.  If you freeze them, just don’t forget to place a piece of wax or parchment in between each patty so that they don’t stick together (ask me how I know this.)  These burgers may not take you back to your last visit to the Mediterranean, but I hope they’ll keep you from visiting the freezer section of your supermarket!  Enjoy~

5.0 from 4 reviews
Chickpea Burgers
Author: 
Serves: makes 8 patties
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed if canned
  • 2 large eggs, preferably free-range
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • zest of 2 small or 1 super big lemon
  • ¼ cup flour (whole grain flour, cornmeal or almond meal all work)
  • 6 Tablespoons (or a heaping ⅓ cup) chopped parsley
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • ½ red onion, small dice
  • Oil or ghee for sautéing
  • Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt (full fat or low fat)
  • 3 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1½ Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped parsley, mint or a combo (my favorite)
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Oil or ghee for sautéing
  • 4 6½ -inch whole wheat pitas, halved and warmed, if desired
  • Suggested accompaniments: sprouts, avocado, tomato, lettuce, grilled onions
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas, egg, garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne, lemon zest, flour and parsley in food processor. Pulse until a coarse mixture forms that holds together. It should be moist and sticky.
  2. Place chickpea mixture in a bowl and mix in grated carrot and red onion. Take a ½ cup of the mixture and firmly press it into a patty about 3 ½ inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. You can also form these into mini-patties for appetizers. Place on a plate or a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Cover if refrigerating for more than a few hours.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add patties to the skillet (do this in batches, if necessary) and cook until crisp and golden brown on the underside, about 6 minutes. Carefully turn over and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3-5 minutes more.
  4. Serve with or without a warmed pita half or a hamburger bun and suggested toppings.

 

Spaghetti squash with kale and chickpeas

Did you participate in the low-carb craze of the 90’s?  If you did, you may have eaten a lot of spaghetti squash with tomato sauce trying to convince your carb-starved body that you were actually eating pasta. The body is no fool, though.  At least mine isn’t.  I ate lots of “spaghetti” for a good year, but never really felt like I was eating pasta and then I had a negative association with this pasta imposter.  The better attitude to take is to acknowledge that spaghetti squash is a delicious food unto itself and that replacing a processed food (pasta) with something whole and full of vitamins and minerals is a fantastic idea.  I had sworn off spaghetti squash for 15 years because I thought the only way to eat it was with marinara sauce and I had O.D.’d on that.  But my lovely summer intern, Hannah, had found this recipe that sparked my interest and I was back.

 

Spaghetti squash comes into season in the early fall and lasts through the early spring.  Like most winter squashes, spaghetti squash lasts quite a while off the vine without losing nutrients.  In fact, many winter squashes actually get a little sweeter when they’ve been allowed to “cure” on your countertop for a bit.  What is unique about spaghetti squash is that the flesh is not meaty like other winter squashes like butternut squash or pumpkin, for example, but instead stringy after it has been cooked.  It resembles spaghetti strands when you rake your fork through the flesh.  Pretty cool, actually.  The flavor of spaghetti squash is like the glass half empty-glass half full.  It has a very subtle flavor — really subtle — which means it tastes kind of bland, but it also means you’re not that limited with flavors you can use.

Funny enough, the trickiest part about cooking spaghetti squash is actually cutting it open.  I have tried numerous methods and the one that is hands-down the best is what I call the slot machine method.  You can see from the photos that I insert the tip of my big, sturdy chef’s knife into the flesh of the squash a few inches from the bottom and pull down.  Then I inch my way up the squash towards the middle and keep inserting and pulling down the knife.  This is the safest and easiest way to do it.  If you don’t want to try cutting it open and you have extra time, you can pierce the squash a few times with the tip of your knife so it doesn’t explode in the oven (ask me how I know this) and roast it whole.  This way it will soften up and be much easier to cut open, but you’re adding an extra 15-20 minutes to the cook time.  I prefer to roast the squash halves, which takes about 45 minutes.  You can also plunge the halves into a pot of boiling water for about 13 minutes if you’re in a rush, but I think you lose nutrients when you boil vegetables for a long time like that.  Also, it’s easier to overcook it and then the subtle flavor becomes even more subtle (as in, it tastes like water.)  I’m well aware that people also microwave spaghetti squash halves, but this is a site about NOT microwaving food, so you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.

 

Here I sauteed my BFF kale with garlic and a pinch of chili flakes to toss with the cooked squash strands and then I add cooked chickpeas.  But we’ve hung out enough that by now you know that you can substitute Swiss chard or spinach for the kale and white beans for the chickpeas.  Really the sky’s the limit with how you complement the squash.  Just make sure you add lots of flavor and don’t be stingy with the salt.  I added vegetable chili on top of it one day. Another time I tossed it with chunky braised root vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce.  Daughter #2 found some cooked spaghetti squash in the refrigerator and warmed it up and added olive oil, feta, olives and some leftover broccoli.  It was so darn good and I never had to convince anyone to try it because it was “just like pasta!”

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spaghetti Squash with Kale and Chickpeas
Author: 
Serves: 4-6 (or just me and my intern, both starving, standing over the stove)
 
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash, about 3½ pounds
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil + more for drizzling the squash or unrefined coconut oil or ghee
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, center rib removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained, if canned)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes or more to taste
  • Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese shaved on top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub the inside of each half with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes until tender.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute or less. Add chili flakes, stir for a few seconds and add chopped kale with a few pinches of sea salt. Sauté kale until the leaves are bright green, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook until warmed through. Remove from heat.
  3. Remove squash from oven when it is cooked through and tender. Using a fork, pull the strands of squash from the peel so that it resembles…spaghetti! Place the strands into a serving bowl and add the kale-chickpea mixture. If you do the spaghetti squash in advance and it is no longer hot, add to the kale and chickpeas and sauté over medium heat until warmed through. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning. Since spaghetti squash is rather bland, you will need to add plenty of salt and pepper. Garnish with cheese if desired.