Spaghetti with Crispy Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon

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Tom Colicchio’s always like “you didn’t develop any flavor” on Top Chef and most people are probably like “what’s he talking about?” My quick answer is: “He’s talking about making things brown.”

Generally speaking, when you’re cooking something, you want it to turn brown (or, to use a prettier word, you want it to “caramelize.”) What that really comes down to is taking things further than you might otherwise feel comfortable. The hard part is if you take them too far, there’s no going back. So you’ve gotta get in there, hover over the pan, but don’t hover too much–if you stare, you’ll be tempted to stir, and that stops the browning. It’s a delicate dance, developing flavor, but if you do it the right way you can create a dish that’s way more dynamic than it has any right to be–like this dish of spaghetti with crispy chickpeas and preserved lemon.

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I’m Gonna Get You Socca!

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It’s time to admit that my love affair with chickpeas has gone too far. Not only did I post about making a big pot of chickpeas a week ago, and also a salad of roasted beets, carrots and chickpeas that week, I already have another chickpea dish to blog about coming up–one with tomatoes, basil and zucchini. I need to be stopped. But what’s this I see at my local fancy supermarket? A bag of chickpea flour? Chickpea FLOUR? Oh my, I think I need to buy this. I think I need to make something with this. CHICKPEA FLOUR. I’m sold.

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Cook A Pot of Chickpeas, Eat For A Week

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Here’s an idea for your weekend, and really there’s not much to it. While you’re sitting around on Sunday, reading the paper or doing a marathon of Orange is the New Black, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Drop in half an onion (leave the skin on), a carrot, a piece of celery and a whole head of garlic. Then pour in a big bag of dried chickpeas. If you’re bold, add a pinch of salt (though some say this changes the texture; I haven’t found that to be true). Lower to a simmer and cook for 20 to 40 minutes, tasting after 20 to see how far they have to go. Keep ’em going until they’re incredibly creamy on the inside (it’s tempting to stop when they’re merely edible, but creamy is what you’re going for), adding more salt as they chug along to help ensure that they get seasoned all the way to the center. When they’re seasoned and creamy, take the pot off the heat and allow it to come to room temperature. Then pop it in the fridge. What now?

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Emergency Frittata with Spanish Chickpea Salad

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Imagine a glass case in the part of your brain that houses recipes: inside that glass case? There should be a frittata and a little sign that says, “Break in case of emergency.”

A frittata is a terrific thing to know how to make because, on a weeknight where you have nothing in the house–nothing to cook at all–except eggs, a stray onion, and some butter, you can still make dinner. Throw in some chickpeas and smoked paprika, and you actually have a dinner that looks pretty good.

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Spicy Chickpeas with Curry Leaves and Kale

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Oh kale, you’re everywhere. You’re in my belly right now because I just had you for lunch (a raw salad that was a little too spicy from Little Dom’s Deli). You’re a fad, you’re a trend. You’re chips, you’re juice. You’re unavoidable in L.A.

And here I am putting a recipe with kale in it up on the blog. Have I no shame? Am I the equivalent of an insecure middle schooler who chases the popular kids around yelling, “Hey, guys, wait for me!” (Funny: when I started high school, one of the first friends I made–an older girl–actually said, “You seem like the kind of kid who’d say, ‘Hey guys, wait for me!'”) Whatever.

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Pasta with Chickpeas, Bacon and Spinach

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We did a very smart thing this weekend: we invited friends over for dinner on Sunday night which forced us to finish unpacking and get our new place in order. Worked like a charm. By early Sunday evening, all of our boxes were unpacked, our furniture was properly placed and all of the lights were plugged in. We have our master list of things to get (extra towel hook for the bathroom, drain stopper for the sink) but all in all, we’re pretty remarkably set up for having only moved in a week ago. Only one question remained: what to make for dinner?

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Lebanese Chickpea Stew

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The first post of 2013 has to be a winner–that’s a rule–and so it’s a huge relief to share with you a dish that I made for dinner the other night that’s such a winner, it portends very good things for the year to come.

I’m at the point now where I can read a recipe and I’ll know, pretty quickly, if it’ll be something that I’ll like or not. There has to be an X-factor, something sexy about it that intrigues me, that makes me go “Heavens to Betsy! What a good idea.” This Lebanese Chickpea Stew, which I found on BonAppetit.com, had that “Heavens to Betsy” quality I look for.

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Hummus For Dinner

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Hummus is many things: a party snack, a sandwich filler, a way to use up leftover chickpeas. But dinner? Hummus for dinner? Preposterous!

Hey: I understand where you’re coming from. Hummus is a glorified dip and who eats dip for dinner? But ever since I left New York, I’ve been missing my lunches at Hummus Place in the West Village. So last Monday, for dinner, I decided to recreate my regular lunchtime Hummus Place meal, only this time it would be for dinner.

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