Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chickpea Puree with Lemon and Mint

Hummus alternative without tahini. Serve with crudite, crostini, or pita chips.

  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
  • Sprinkling of cayenne pepper

1. Coarsely puree the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until smooth. Gradually add 1/3 cup oil in a thin, steady stream. Then add the water and puree until the chickpeas are smooth and fluffy. Scrape into a shallow bowl and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

2. Sprinkle the top with the herbs and cayenne; drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Makes about 3 cups

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Ricotta Cheese Spread with Lemon and Herbs

Draining the ricotta removes excess moisture, resulting in a stiffer, more spreadable mixture, but if you are in a hurry, the recipe works just fine without draining the cheese or draining it for less time. You could also use goat cheese, which does not require draining. Vary the fresh herbs depending on availability. Substitute dill, parsley, rosemary, or oregano, or a mix. Remember that the intensity of fresh herbs varies. Add small amounts, taste, and then add more.

  • 15 ounces whole-milk or part-skim ricotta
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 basil leaves, chiffonade, for garnish

1. Empty the container of ricotta into a strainer and place over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Alternatively, drain at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Combine the drained ricotta, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme leaves, the salt, and a grinding of pepper; stir until blended. Mound into the center of a shallow bowl and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest and thyme on top. Garnish with the basil chiffonade.

3. Serve with crackers, crostini, or crudite.

Adapted from Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Toasted Pita Triangles

These keep very well in a ziplock bag. Serve with hummus.

  • 4-6 pita breads
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using kitchen scissors, cut the pita breads crosswise (through the folded edge), forming 2 circles of bread from each pita.

3. Combine the oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the rough side of the bread lightly with the oil-and-garlic mixture. Sprinkle with salt. Stack the pitas and cut them into triangles.

4. Spread the pita triangles in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake, rearranging the pitas so they will brown evenly, until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.

5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Curried Pecans

Munch on these with a tall, cool drink or sprinkle over chicken salad, stir-fried green beans, or a mixed green salad.

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) large pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans in a large, shallow baking pan and dot with the butter. Bake until the butter just melts, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the curry powder and the salt. Stir to coat.

3. Bake, stirring often, until the pecans are toasted and coated with the butter and curry, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool; store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Makes 2 cups

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons