All it takes is copious amounts of butter, freshly ground black pepper, and grated Parmesan to create a dreamy-creamy mouthful.
You know it best as cacio e pepe, that Italian classic dish of spaghetti whose strands get coated lavishly with that velvety amalgamation.
But for those eschewing gluten or grains these days, you’ll be glad to know you can get that same beloved taste in “Chickpeas Cacio e Pepe.”
This clever recipe is from the cookbook, “Ottolenghi Test Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter, 2021) by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi. The latter, of course, is the acclaimed London restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author; and the former is the head of his Ottolenghi Test Kitchen.
Yes, garbanzos stand in for the noodles. And the bean cooking liquid for the starchy pasta water that usually acts as the glue to emulsify everything.
Unlike most of his other cookbooks, which showcased dishes from his acclaimed Nopi and Rovi restaurants, and Ottolenghi delis, this one aims to show you more creative ways to cook from your pantry, fridge and freezer.
That being said, that doesn’t necessarily mean these are recipes that take barely any time or effort to put together. If you know Ottolengthi recipes, you know they often require a number of steps. But in this case, none are especially difficult or laborious. And in many cases, you’ll learn a new tip or technique along the way. Many of the recipes also list handy substitutions or additional ways to use a particular sauce or serve a dish.
Case in point, “Creamy Dreamy Hummus,” which Murad and Ottolenghi provide directions for making with the preferred dried chickpeas, as well as with, yes, canned garbanzos, often considered sacrilege. But, as they note, canned ones can still create a very creamy hummus — provided you first use kitchen towels to gently release their skins, then cook them briefly in water with salt, and a pinch of cumin.
Or take the recipe for “Very Giant Giant Couscous Cake,” a clean-out-the-fridge type of crispy, savory cake made in a pan that can be put together with leftover rice or pearl barley, if you don’t have couscous on hand.
Or the “Skillet Berries, Bread, and Browned Butter” breakfast, brunch or afternoon snack that makes use of half-opened bags of frozen berries, stale bread, and that forgotten container of rolled outs by turning it all into a delicious warm fruit crumble drizzled with cold heavy cream.
With a butternut squash languishing on my countertop for a couple of weeks, I was moved to try my hand at “Butternut Squash with Orange Oil and Caramelized Honey.”
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in London, she didn’t parlay that into a stint at any fancy restaurant. Instead, she went to volunteer at an orphanage in India, where she reopened a cafe to raise money and awareness about the children there.
Upon returning to New York, she co-created a Cooking Channel show, “Eden Eats,” which explored the global culinary scene. She even partnered for a spell on a fast-casual Middle Eastern cafe, DEZ, in New York.
On top of all that, she also appears to have the most enviable collection of high-waist jeans around. Hey, just saying.
Of Israeli heritage, Grinshpan’s more than 100 recipes are colorful, playful, and accessible just like her personality. Middle Eastern cuisine as seen through her lens comes in such fun forms as “Sunchoke Hummus,” “Sesame Schnitzel Sandwich with Harissa Honey and Tartar Slaw,” “Sumac-Roasted Snapper with Lime Yogurt,” and “Salted Halvah Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
I can never resist crisp, charred veggies, so I zeroed in right away on “Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Sauce.”
Leave it to Chef Eric Ripert to turn purple cabbage from pauper to prince.
Yes, in the hands of this gifted Michelin three-starred chef, this lowly veg shines as royalty on the plate.
“Soy-Glazed Red Cabbage” is one of the star recipes in his newest cookbook, “Vegetable Simple” (Random House), of which I received a review copy.
As the long-time chef and co-owner of the venerable Le Bernardin in New York, Ripert has honed the magic touch with seafood. Now, he applies that same exquisite care to vegetables in recipes that are truly simple. In fact, most of them call for just a handful of ingredients along with three to six paragraphs of directions.
You will salivate without feeling the least bit intimidated when you come across recipes such as “End of Summer Tomato ‘Tea’,” Warm Potato, Goat Cheese Parfaits,” “Curried Brussels Sprouts,” and “Corn Cake, Blueberry Compote.”
Wedges of purple cabbage cook in a saute pan on the stove-top with a little water and butter, like making glazed carrots. OK, maybe more than a little butter; more like half a stick. But hey, you can’t fault a Frenchman for that.
The book, by America’s Test Kitchen, is ideal for anyone, especially those looking to incorporate more plant-based dishes into their diet in this new year. Even if you’re an avowed carnivore, you’ll still find plenty to like, especially if you enjoy these dishes as an accompaniment to whatever meat protein you prefer.
Recipes run the gamut from “Carrot Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal,” “Pinto Bean-Beet Burgers,” and “Creamy Cashew Mac and Cheese” to “Overstuffed Sweet Potatoes with Tofu and Thai Curry,” “Turkish Eggplant Casserole,” and “Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding.”