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.”
Vineyard Cake, when Napa and Sonoma are on my mind.
With the searing news footage, the loss of lives, the destruction of homes, and the terrifying speed and ferocity with which this catastrophe all happened, Wine Country weighs heavily on our minds lately.
The series of deadly conflagrations that swept through Napa and Sonoma counties in a flash in the past two weeks left an indelible mark. Lives will be forever changed. Rebuilding will be a long, slow, painful and costly process. The fires of 2017 â€“ and all they wrought — will not soon be erased.
We donate money. We volunteer our help. Still, we feel rather helpless in the face of the enormity of the destruction.
What else to do? In the months, and years to come, simply donâ€™t forget. When the regions are no longer front-page newspaper stories or the lead item on the 6 oâ€™clock news, donâ€™t let Napa and Sonoma fall off your radar. Buy the wines to enjoy this Thanksgiving. Or send a bottle to friends across the country for Christmas. Plan a trip to Wine Country in to support hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and tasting rooms. Moreover, as you get ready to do your annual income taxes, take a deduction and do good at the same time, by making a donation to the Napa Valley Community Foundation or the Community Foundation Sonoma County.
And then bake this cake.
That may sound like a crazy idea, but there is something to be said for really being present in the moment, for taking the time to focus singularly on a place or a thing, that makes us truly appreciate it.