Friday, April 16, 2010

Surprise and delight me

I like meat. I like beef stew and goat curry and tandoori chicken and pork carnitas tacos. I like melt-in-your-mouth marrow and lamb shanks and kefta kabobs and turkey sausage. I like crispy chicken skin and crispy bacon and ballpark franks and cajun shrimp and kielbasa. I like grilled trout and raw tuna and salmon and gravy covered turkey and salami sandwiches. I could go on for days talking about all the different kinds of meat and fish I like. But the thing about meat is that it's easy to cook and make it taste good because, well, it tastes good!

So I don't spend a lot of time here writing about it and talking about, and if I ever mention something meaty I don't have a lot to say other than that it was good and you should make it. But then, you should make everything I tell you about.

It's vegetarian food that inspires me in the kitchen, that, when made well, can surprise and delight me. Main courses made with tofu or mushrooms or beans can be bland, but they can also be fantastic.
I'll write another time about spicy tofu or tofu in peanut sauce or mushrooms tarts, but today I'm going to praise my favorite bean, the garbanzo.

Last week I made these little chickpea (garbanzo bean) patties, mostly out of curiosity. They're still raw in this picture. I like chickpeas and have experimented with black bean patties and sampled other vegetarian burger alternatives. I feared these patties would be dry and tasteless. What I didn't expect was that they would be spicy and tender and I wouldn't be able to stop eating them. (My recipe excludes the rice that was in the original recipe, simply because it takes longer to cook the rice than to make and bake the patties. Thus the patties are not as firm as they could be.) When I drizzled tahini sauce over them, I scarfed down three patties without stopping to look for the meat.

Chickpea Patties with Tahini Sauce (modified from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz)
Makes 6 patties, 3 servings of 2 patties each

Ingredients for Tahini Sauce:
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with ½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

In a blender blend together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic paste, and cayenne. With the motor running add the oil in a stream, blending until the sauce is emulsified. Season with salt.

Ingredients for patties:
One 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the chickpeas, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the bell pepper and parsley.

Moisten your hands to keep the mixture from sticking, then shape the mixture into 1/4-inch-thick patties about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the patties start to get dry and crisp on the outside. They will firm up as they cool.

Serve patties with salad of mixed greens. Drizzle tahini sauce over patties and salad.

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