Lemon Scallion Garbanzos


Lemon Scallion Chickpeas (August 3, 2016)

Bright lemon juice, pops of pungent scallion, the bitter fruitiness of olive oil, and a heavy hand of Romano cheese raise garbanzos up where they belong. Irresistible when they’re first made, like all things, they improve with time and are best prepared a day ahead.

Marinated beans like these are traditionally enjoyed at room temperature. Have I mentioned how they’re perfect for summer picnics and BBQs? You’ll be a total hero to the gluten free vegetarians right off the bat and some sort of food Jesus to vegans if you substitute a tablespoonful of tahini for the cheese.

Now don’t go ruining this edible marvel with canned garbanzos. They’re easy enough to cook from dry, all the more so with a pressure cooker. The difference in texture and flavor is remarkable and completely worth the effort.

Recipe yields enough for three as a main course.

Lemon Scallion Garbanzos
2 cups dried garbanzos
juice of a medium lemon
five scallions, sliced thinly
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek or Californian
1 tsp Greek oregano, crushed finely
a handful of finely grated Romano cheese
salt to taste

If using a pressure cooker, follow your manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise, soak dried garbanzos overnight in a quart of water in the refrigerator. Simmer for about two hours until tender. In both cases, be sure to salt the cooking water with one teaspoon of salt per quart of water.

Combine lemon juice, scallions, olive oil, and oregano in a bowl and set aside while the beans cook. When the beans are done, drain them and toss with marinade. Add cheese and add salt as needed.

Greek Salad


Greek Salad (August 1, 2016)

An authentic Greek Salad is a revel in summer flavors. Sweet, tart tomatoes, floral cucumbers, and piquant peppers countered by creamy feta and succulent olives. Lacking the adornment of dressing, it relies completely upon your ability to select the freshest and most flavorful ingredients. If you’re not already familiar with your local farmers market, consider this an opportunity to change that.

Speaking of markets, if you live near any significant population of Greeks, seek out their supermarket and get your feta and olives there. Supermarket specimens of each will do, but they lack a certain something. Here in Los Angeles, I stock my Greek pantry at Papa Cristo’s.

In lieu of dressing, have your favorite unfiltered olive oil and red wine vinegar at hand as well as a bit of salt. But use them only on what’s on your plate, and sparingly at that. The idea is to enjoy each bite as an individual celebration of the vegetable. It’s all very Spartan, I’m sure.

This recipe serves four as part of a larger spread, two if just accompanied by bread and wine.

Greek Salad
1 large, ripe tomato
3 Persian cucumbers
1 ripe bell pepper of any color
2 scallions
3 – 5 thick slices of sheep’s milk feta
8 – 12 brine cured Kalamata olives
1/2 tsp Greek oregano

Cut tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers into bite-sized chunks. Trim white parts off of scallions and cut lengthwise into quarters. Thinly slice the green part of the scallion into rings. Lay the majority of the cucumbers at the bottom of a wide bowl and scatter over the scallion greens. Cover with tomatoes, then peppers. Scatter remaining cucumbers around the outer edge and lay on the quartered scallion whites. Scatter olives at the center of the salad and then lay on the planks of feta. Sprinkle over the oregano and eat!

This salad can be made up to three hours ahead and held in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap. Wait to add the cheese, olives, and oregano until just before serving.

Green Bean Salad with Crunchy Garlic Dressing


Green Beans with Crunchy Garlic Dressing (July 27, 2016)

After Kewpie mayonnaise and the films of Studio Ghibli, my favorite thing to come out of Japan is S&B Crunchy Garlic Topping. It’s a blend of crisp-fried garlic and mild chilis in sesame oil meant as a condiment for ramen. Much like Old Bay Seasoning, there’s nothing it can’t improve

Here I use S&B Crunchy Garlic Topping to give classic French green bean salad a Japanese kick. Like the original, the keys to success are to cook the beans until tender, dress them while still warm, and enjoy at room temperature.

If you have the time, these are even better made a day ahead. Pop into the refrigerator as soon as they’re done but give them about thirty minutes on the counter before serving.

This recipe yields enough for four.

Green Bean Salad with Crunchy Garlic Dressing
1 lb green beans, trimmed
2 tbsp tahini
1 ts molasses
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 heaping tsp S&B Crunchy Garlic Topping*
1 tbsp sake
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp peanut oil
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Bring at least two quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat with a heaping teaspoon of salt. Add the trimmed green beans and cover until water returns to the boil. Once boiling, cook the beans until tender but not soft. This will take as little as a minute for small beans and up to seven minutes for larger ones, so check often. Drain and rinse for a minute under cold water. Allow to stand in a colander while you prepare the dressing.

S&B Crunchy Garlic Topping (July 27, 2016)In a bowl large enough to toss the beans, add all of the remaining ingredients except for the sesame seeds. Whisk until smooth, then add the drained beans. Toss gently to coat all of the beans completely.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand on the counter for thirty minutes, tossing every ten minutes or so, before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds.

* Easily located at any Japanese grocery or on the interwebs. Yes, the brand matters. Yes, it’s full of MSG. No, MSG will not kill you.

Greek-Style Braised Beans


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There’s nothing Grandma Kay didn’t braise in this ubiquitous punchy, herbal Greek tomato sauce. If the technique is new to you, think of it as stewing – low heat and flavorful liquid. In my own kitchen, as in Greece, I find the ultimate marriage to be with creamy white beans. Garbanzos are the path to maximum bean bliss, but lima and great northern won’t ruin Christmas.

Regardless of your bean choice, for the love of all that is good and right in this world, please use freshly cooked beans. I employ a Fagor pressure cooker to fulfill my leguminous whims. Canned beans hurt my feelings. Cooking them the old fashioned way is an afternoon you’re not getting back. But the pressure cooker gets you from bean-shaped rocks to dinner in under an hour, usually more like 30 minutes. You know that’s something you want in on.

Depending on your willpower, you can serve these beans in a variety of ways. Straight up with rice or toast. Chilled as a hearty summer salad. Or reheated and lightly mashed into a cast iron skillet with a couple of eggs cracked on top and some Cholula. Whatever’s clever.

This recipe yields enough for four as an entree.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 small onions, halved and sliced
a heavy pinch of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp dried Greek oregano, finely ground
2 tbsp tomato paste
a glug of dry red wine
2 1/2 cups dried garbanzos (about five cooked), cooked to al dente with plenty of salt
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Cook the onions over medium low with olive oil and a heavy pinch of salt until golden and lightly caramelized. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it turns brick red.

Add cinnamon and oregano and cook for a minute, continuing to stir. Add wine and stir to loosen tomato paste, then add beans, diced tomatoes (and their juice!), and garlic powder. Stir well to incorporate. With lid on pot, raise heat to medium-high and stir every five minutes until bubbling vigorously.

Reduce heat to low and taste for salt and pepper. Amend as needed. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes with lid off, stirring about every five minutes, until sauce thickens and beans become creamily tender. The beans will take up salt quite quickly at this point, so taste for seasoning every time you stir.

Soy Glazed Acorn Squash


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Earthy, sweet, and salty with a big wallop of umami. This technique works well with any winter squash but is best applied to acorn, delicata, and kabocha. I enjoy it as-is for a hearty side or puréed with a nice pork chop. Substitute peanut or sunflower oil to make it totally vegan.

This recipe yields enough for four.

Soy Glazed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp dark soy sauce, preferably Japanese
2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
additional salt to taste

Clean and peel squash.  Cut into bite-sized pieces of a shape that appeals to you.

Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, oven medium heat with butter. When butter is melted, add all ingredients but extra salt and stir to coat squash in butter and sugar.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir every five minutes, and add additional water to keep a light sauce in the bottom of the pan at all times. Taste throughout and add additional salt if needed.