Tag Archives: Chickpeas

Pulse – a sneaky preview

I promised you a few images from the book, so here they are. I hope they’ll give you the gist of what this latest tome is all about. I want to share my love for legumes, I really do think that they’re one of the most satisfying and delicious ingredients in the kitchen. It’s not about persuading you to eat them because they are incredibly healthy, economical, sustainable, easy to cook and infinitely versatile (obviously quite a few bonus points too) it’s all about how very, very tasty they are. Pulses have at last emerged from their tie-dye teepee, so ditch all those hippy preconceptions and dive in.

I can think of nothing better than tucking into a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with flageolet beans or some roasted autumnal roots with chickpeas and pomegranate molasses. Yes, it’s all about comfort today; it’s peed with rain all afternoon, I’ve had my SAD lamp on next to the desk it’s been so dark and desperate.

Tarka Dal - Pulse

Dahl is one of my favourite simple supper dishes. You can serve it alongside a curry but I’m just as happy to eat it alone with a bowl of rice or an Indian flat bread. Stir a spicy Tarka and a few spinach leaves into the dahl at the last minute and it’s fabulous. I’m not a veggie but I could happily eat this at least once a week.

Black Bean QuesadillaBlack bean quesadillas are really quick to make especially if you use tinned black beans but I must encourage you to boil up a big pot of beans and then use them for a selection of recipes, vary the dishes enough and no one will ever notice that they’ve eaten the same bean three times in one week ( you can freeze any left over beans too). So take black beans for example: you could have Mexican quesadillas on monday, followed by black bean, squash and sweetcorn soup on wednesday and indulge yourself by making black bean brownies for the weekend.

Smoked mackerel., grapefruit and lentil salad

I prepare lentil salads year-round, you can top them with whatever’s in season. This smoked mackerel, grapefruit and lentil salad is a wonderful, zippy winter salad. It’s great when your feeling a bit sloth-like and sluggish because it’s packed with vital vitamins and omega 3. There are plenty of other legumey salads as well. They’re particularly good for lunch boxes; where a leafy salad wilts a pulse just soaks up the juices and develops in flavour.

Moroccan chickpeas with meatballs

These Moroccan chickpeas with meat balls are a family hit and a great reminder to all those doubting carnivores that legume dishes don’t necessarily have to be vegetarian. Cassoulet, Chilli con carne and Boston baked beans are all classics but there are plenty of other dishes such as Pot roast pheasant with prunes and lentils to get your teeth into too.

Now I do promise that you’ll have a recipe in my next post, I have a tray of figs lurking downstairs and a wonderful recipe to prepare. Meanwhile I hope you’ll enjoy Clare Winfield’s amazing photography and excuse me for banging on about my book yet again.

Spilling the beans – Pulse is out!

It’s here, it’s arrived and now you can hear me telling you all about PULSE.
I’m feverishly baking black bean brownies this morning ready for tomorrow’s launch, I’ll let you know all about it later in the week.

I have loads of extra legume recipes that just didn’t fit in the book, so be prepared for some pulsating weeks ahead (and I promise to stop the puns right there – oops just noticed that I’ve called the video “spilling the beans”)

If you’d like a copy it would be great to support your local shops. Three independents that I simply love, where I know you will find Pulse, are Books for Cooks in London, Topping and Company in Bath and Papadeli in Bristol. And, of course, you can find Pulse on Amazon too.

Chickpea, Egg and Potato salad with Salsa Verde

It’s been so hot over the last few days that I’ve had to rig up a sunshade over the guinea-pig hutch and seem to spend my life watering the tomatoes. I usually become mildly panicked when it’s sunny, incase I miss any opportunity to be outside, but now I’m relaxing into the seemingly endless warmth. Lunch in the garden feels almost normal and I’m rediscovering lots of great salads.

Parsley may not be as punchy as coriander, mint or basil but I love its summery freshness and there’s nothing like a good bunch to spruce up my Calabrian cockerel. I do try to reign myself in and stick to white china, so much better for photography, but can’t resist a bit of gaudy kitsch when it comes along.

Calabrian Cockerel with Parsley

But back to the parsley. I abandoned the curly English stuff years ago, you have to chop it so finely (otherwise it’s like eating sawdust) that it becomes a faff. Childhood memories of the rather gloopy parsley sauce that always accompanied the home-cooked ham, and the ever present garnish on the pub plate, didn’t hold much promise either. It wasn’t until I experienced Mediterranean ways with parsley such as Middle Eastern tabbouleh, the Spanish picada  or Italian salsa verde that I was really smitten.

Salsa verde is loaded with fresh parsley, salty anchovies, feisty garlic, acidic lemon juice or vinegar, slightly bitter capers, pungent mustard and rich extra virgin olive oil. It’s the perfect balance of piquancy, leafiness and oily richness that breathes new life into simple ingredients such as my chickpea and potato salad. Salsa verde is traditionally eaten with bollito misto (boiled meats) but it’s good with roast lamb, salmon and with the crispy, parmesan-fried chicken that I’ll have to share with you at a later date.

Salsa Verde

A large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
2 ½  tablespoons of capers
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs of red wine vinegar or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
6-8 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a rough pesto consistency. Now taste and balance with more salty anchovy, oil or acidity as necessary.

I sometimes play around with the herbs in the sauce by adding a little basil, mint, chives or rosemary but always keep the parsley as the main player. You can, of course, just leave out the anchovy for a veggie version and add a bit of extra salt.

Chicpea, potato and egg salad with Salsa VerdeChickpea, Egg and Potato Salad with Salsa Verde

The salsa verde’s punchy flavours really give this salad some punch. I adore the potato/chickpea combination. It’s worth splashing out on a good salad potato- the knobbly Pink Fir Apple, the nutty Anya and, of course, Jersey Royals when they’re around.
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side

350 g/ 12 oz small waxy potatoes
500 g/ 1lb 2 oz home cooked or 2 x 400 g /14 oz tins of chickpeas, drained
100 g tender, green salad such as lamb’s lettuce or spinach
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs, hard boiled (7-8 minutes on a rolling boil will give you a just-set egg yolk)
1 x Salsa Verde recipe

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, drain and place in a large serving bowl with the chickpeas.
Add the salad leaves keeping about a dozen for garnish. Stir through the olive oil to coat.
Spoon over the Salsa Verde, allowing the potatoes and chickpeas to peep through in places.
Peel and quarter the eggs and lay over the top of the salad with the remaining leaves.


One-pot Chorizo Supper and The Meat Course

I’ve always been a serious chorizo fan. The cured Spanish sausage, seasoned with paprika and garlic, can transform a pot of beans or lentils like nothing else. I have to say that I’m more excited about today’s chorizo than ever because I actually made it myself (but more of that later). Pete’s relieved that the sausages are finally in the fridge after virtually garotting himself on the makeshift curing line. Imi and I rather enjoyed having to limbo our way out of the front door.Chorizo at Plum Cooking

I’ve now got enough sausage for a number of dishes, since a little chorizo does go a very long way. I prefer using the soft cooking chorizo although after 6 days of curing my sausages are on the firmer side. I’m not too distraught as I’m sure that there must be some region of Spain where my chorizo would be considered true perfection. There is no single, truly authentic chorizo: some that come in strings can be as soft as a British butcher’s sausage, others come as firm, semi-cured horseshoes whilst you can also buy fully-cured versions to eat like salami. There are probably as many types of chorizo as there are cathedrals in Spain. So, my only words of wisdom: reserve the fully-cured for charcuterie platters or sarnies, chop the firm semi- cured versions into tiny dice for cooking (or it’s like eating leather) and keep the soft cooking chorizo in juicy hunks.

So here’s a basic recipe that appeared in my first book The Food of Northern Spain (I included another version using beans instead of chickpeas in my second, The Real Taste of Spain ). It’s best made a day ahead so that the flavours develop and the chickpeas (or whatever pulse you’re using) drink up the juices. You can obviously play around, it’s a what-you’ve-got-in-store type of a dish.

One-pot Chorizo Supper
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
250 g/ 9 oz chorizo, hot or sweet, sliced
500 g/ just over 1lb of freshly cooked or 2 x 400 g/14 oz cans of chickpeas
1 x 400 g/ 14 oz can of chopped plum tomatoes
2 tbsp sultanas
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp toasted pine kernels
1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Fry the onions in a large pan until they soften and then add the garlic and the chorizo. Once the pan is swirling with the smoky, red chorizo fat then tip in the chickpeas, stirring to cover them in the delicious oil.

Add the tomatoes and the sultanas and cook until everything is heated through.

Taste, I usually find that the chickpeas need a little lemon juice to liven them up and a bit of salt and pepper. Now sprinkle with pine kernels, parsley and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

How about?
Using beans such as butter beans, cannellini, borlotti or black beans instead of the chickpeas.
Adding diced vegetables such as carrot, celery or red pepper to fry up with the onion.
Try stirring in some fresh spinach, right at the end, just until it wilts.

& for an instant Tapas nibble
Just try placing some chunks of sliced chorizo in a clay cazuela or oven-proof dish. Cover with red wine or dry cider and place in a hot oven for about 15 – 20 minutes until the fat just begins to glisten on the surface. Serve with great bread for dunking.

And now to the source of my fabulous chorizo: The Meat Course at Trealy Farm

Last weekend I went on a course run by Ruth Tudor and James Swift at their  Monmouthshire farm. I felt, like most of us, that I’d lost connection with where our meat comes from (horsemeat?!) and although I’m already very choosy when I’m shopping I just wanted to understand a bit more about the reality of rearing animals for meat, the slaughter, butchery and then some charcuterie too.

I hope that the pictures can begin to convey the bucolic setting (oh what a classroom, looking out over the Welsh countryside). My only regret is that I didn’t take any pictures of the amazing food that Nicky cooked all weekend, I was just too busy eating!

The animals were beautiful: I’m in love with Gwenlas the cow, failed to take any pictures of the pigs as I was having such a great time scratching their backs and discovered that sheep, depending on their breed, can be very different, and sometimes very endearing characters. Ruth chatted to us about the running of the farm, the constant decisions, obstacles, compromises and whilst I’m not about to run a small holding, I do feel that I’ve got more of a grasp of the differences between and the consequences of organic, natural and more industrialised farming.

I was definitely feeling pretty emotional and reluctant about the slaughtering of the sheep, but it was actually fascinating, and seeing the humane way in which an animal can be killed has made me even more determined to eat meat from animals that have been properly cared for.

Trealy Farm Charcuterie has been lauded by countless chefs and food writers as the best in the land so Sunday with James was an absolute treat. We kicked off with an English breakfast, some very, very good black pudding playing the starring role. We learned to butcher a sheep and a pig, talked about cuts and cooking methods and then finally, after a superlative charcuterie fest’ of a lunch, made our own bacon and chorizo. What a weekend; I might even pop back over the Severn Bridge and buy half a pig I feel so inspired.