|photo by karen mordechai|
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him. the people who give you their food given you their heart. | Cesar Chavez.
Whenever people learn that I'm a professionally-trained cook, the first thing they ask, almost always, is "what's your specialty?" Until fairly recently, I might have said something like healthful, indulgent, French-Italian-inspired farm-to-table fare. But probably my biggest specialty of all is fast. And, easy. Because life is always full to the brim, there's very little time for fussy technique in my kitchen, even, or perhaps especially when I'm entertaining, when fussy cooking would be too big a distraction from the wonderful people around me.
Enter this salad: crispy broiled chickpeas, kale and broccolini (the skinny, fast-cooking cousin of broccoli) topped with luscious dollops of ricotta. It's both easy and inspiring, and a befitting starting point to a meal celebrating my new book, at Sunday Suppers, the beautiful dinner (and photography!) studio of my friend Karen Mordechai.
Because all the magic happens in the oven under the broiler, this is a salad you can make while talking, pouring wine, setting the table or, say, making friends with the 20 wonderful, gracious guests we had Sunday night. I hope to see them all again. In the meantime, here's the salad recipe, for your next feast.
ROASTED BROCCOLINI, KALE + CHICKPEA SALAD WITH RICOTTA | SERVES 4
1 bunch broccolini, or broccoli, cut into long florets
1 bunch Tuscan or Lacinato kale, stemmed (if large) and torn
1½ cups/240 g cooked chickpeas (see below) or canned, drained
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup/60 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch red pepper flakes
1 lemon, cut into wedges
8 oz/250 g fresh ricotta cheese
Preheat the broiler to high. Toss the broccolini, kale, chickpeas, and garlic with the olive oil. Season lightly with sea salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes and divide between two rimmed baking sheets. Broil each sheet, tossing halfway through cooking, until the kale is crispy and the broccoli just tender and charred but still bright green, about 5 minutes, rotating the trays top to bottom if two don’t fit side by side in your oven. Squeeze the juice from two lemon wedges all over the top and toss together.
Divide between two to four small plates and top each with a dollop of ricotta. Sprinkle the ricotta with black pepper and drizzle each plate with oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
CRAZY GOOD CHICKPEAS
Start with one 1-lb/455-g bag dried chickpeas and soak them in water overnight in a medium soup pan or saucepan. The next day, bring them to a boil and skim off the white foam after 5 minutes of cooking. Drain, rinse, and return them to the pot. Cover with 4 cups/960 ml fresh water and throw in carrot, celery, onion, parsnip, thyme and bay leaf for extra flavor. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, add ¾ tsp salt, and cook until completely tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup/240 ml of the cooking liquid for preparations like Hummus. You should have about 6 cups/985 g of cooked chickpeas.
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite