let’s talk garbanzo beans (chick peas)

the organic dried beans to the left were soaked overnight
and plumped up to their original size (right)
when i was a kid there was always some bean or grain being soaked in my grandma’s kitchen. i’m not exaggerating-this was pretty much a constant. i liked to poke my head in the bowl every once in a while and see how much the different beans had  grown since the last time i’d looked. beans and grains are a big part of the middle eastern diet, and at least back then, buying them canned was not an option. when my grandma came to america, she took to using canned beans (so much easier), and i remember her sending my grandpa to the store for garbanzo beans. he liked to tell the story of how he finally got the lady at the store to understand what he was looking for-it was funny the way he told it, holding his hand up, making a small circle with his fingers, showing us how he asked for the “round” beans! i’ve often used canned beans myself, but have cut back recently with news that many canned foods have BPA containing lining the inside of their cans: another reason why you should think twice before using canned foods. so why the focus on garbanzo beans today? well other than being very tasty and versatile, these little beans are a great source of fiber, and offers a unique supply of antioxidants: garbanzo bean nutrition information-which means if you care about eating well, they are a good option to add to your diet.

my grandma used them often in abgoosht (a lamb, potato, & garbanzo bean stew made with preserved limes), and in the thick traditional soups filled with root vegetables, herbs, and beans we call “ash“. today i decided to prepare them two ways: roasted whole with spices in the oven much the same way i roast other vegetables, and real home-made hummus (almost-minus the tahini-which i looked up, and is not hard to make if you have a lot of sesame seeds on hand) the way my lebanese friend rula’s family used to make. the most important step when cooking beans is to soak them overnight (or for 8-10 hours). see how beautiful these beans looked after soaking for 10 hours or so.
ingredients for roasted garbanzo beans with cumin:


toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups garbanzo  beans soaked over night **
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil or toasted sesame oil*
photo 31. cook  (simmering softly) the pre-soaked beans in lightly salted water for about 40 minutes (or until tender, but still whole).
2. drain, and pour into a medium sheet pan. add your oil of choice, sea salt, cumin & cayenne pepper (to taste).
3. shake the tray lightly making sure all the beans are coated with the oil and spices.
4. bake in a 375 degrees oven for 35-40 minutes. you can’t imagine how good and spicy these beans will taste, and the sound they make as they come out of the oven-try them! you won’t be disappointed.
for hummus:
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas ( about a cup and a quarter dry)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup (or less, really) tahini (sesame seed paste-for me less of this is more)
  • 1 large or 2 small lemons (freshly squeezed) juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt (to taste)-                                                                                        blend (warm) cooked & drained chickpeas, peeled garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt (remember chickpeas are salted), and half of the olive oil in a blender or food processor. you want this to be very smooth, so adjust the oil if necessary. taste and adjust seasoning-you’ll need more lemon juice than you think. serve in a deep dish or bowl, and top with the rest of the olive oil, finely chopped ripe tomatoes, a few roasted garbanzo beans and a touch of sea salt (flakes are best). if you don’t like to smell like garlic (i don’t), it’s (almost) just as good without.

blend (warm) cooked & drained chickpeas, peeled garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt (remember chickpeas are salted), and half of the olive oil in a blender or food processor. you want this to be very smooth, so adjust the oil if necessary. taste and adjust seasoning-you’ll need more lemon juice than you think. serve in a deep dish or bowl, and top with the rest of the olive oil, finely chopped ripe tomatoes, a few roasted garbanzo beans and a touch of sea salt (flakes are best). if you don’t like to smell like garlic (i don’t), it’s (almost) just as good without.

** soaking guidelines: http://www.frot.co.nz/dietnet/downloads/Grains.pdf

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cooking minette’s italian wedding soup

how to make a delicious gluten free italian wedding soup {sort of} with lots of yummy meatballs and baby kale:

gluten free italian meatball soup with organic meatballs & baby kale

what do you do when you find yourself with a huge bag of beautiful organic baby kale you couldn’t resist buying at the store? you think about all sorts of ways you might use said kale in foods and salads before it goes bad (we’re talking a HUGE bag). if you’re me, for some odd reason, you think about a steaming hot bowl of italian wedding soup loaded with luscious meatballs. and then you go from there-starting the meatballs by combining a few simple ingredients in a bowl: organic (grass fed) ground beef, thinly sliced scallions, chopped italian parsley, sea salt, pepper, a touch of smoked paprika (just because), and just a hit of chick pea flour (or corn flour). once you’ve rolled the little meatballs and added them to a pot of sizzling minced onions in olive oil, you are almost there. it’s been cold out there this winter (in most areas of the world)-take heart: this soup truly warms you inside and out. better start rolling those meatballs!

ingredients for 4 servings of minette’s italian wedding soup:

  • cooking minette's meatballs for soup1 pound organic ground beef (or turkey)-preferably 7% fat only
  • 1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
  • a bunch of scallions (green onions) finely sliced (6-8)
  • a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste (for salt, per bon appetit: as a rule, about 1 tsp per pound will make for perfectly salted meatballs)
  • 2-3 tsp chickpea flour (or corn flour)-some might add breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional) or cayenne pepper for spicy
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (roma tomatoes are good) finely cubed
  • 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1.5-2 cups of organic baby kale (adjust amount to taste, or substitute with spinach if you prefer)
  • 1/2-1 cup italian gluten fee (or your choice) orzo
  • 3 cups preferably homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • good freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. cooking minette's gluten free italian wedding soupmake the meatballs by combining meat, scallions, 2/3rds of the parsley, sea salt & freshly ground pepper, smoked paprika, and chick pea flour in a bowl and mixing by hand (use gloves)-the light touch of your hands incorporates all the ingredients without crushing the meat. don’t over-mix into a paste–full pieces of ground meat should still be visible. add a few teaspoons of water if necessary. gluten free orzo for souproll little balls (bite size is best for soup) out of the mixture and set aside on a plate.
  2. heat the oil in a dutch oven, add onions and fry on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes before adding the meatballs carefully and allowing them to brown on one side (medium heat) before turning them carefully to brown the other.baby kale in soup
  3. when the meatballs and onions are browned, add 3-4 cups of water and three cups of broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the meatballs to cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. add cubed tomatoes (or stewed tomatoes from a jar) and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. add the orzo and allow it to cook until they plump up and become tender, then add the remaining parsley and the kale. add a little more broth to the pot if necessary, then cook for another 15 minutes. add the lemon juice (to taste) before serving. taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  7. buon appetito!cooking minette's italian wedding soup


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a totally scrumptious salad: green beans with dukkah roasted chickpeas & pesto dressing

dukkah roasted chickpeas in salad

i was so lucky to find myself standing in Yotam Ottolenghi’s wonderful deli in Nottingham this past summer with my Sahar {cousin-love-sister} trying to narrow down (the hardest part) what to order for a quick lunch. we ended up with way more ahhhmazinngly fresh and tasty food than we could possibly consume (and we can certainly consume a good bit) wrapped in beautiful crisp white boxes to go (the only table of 10 in the back was full of people eating happily with no intentions to leave).Ottolenghi deli Notting Hill we sat on a little wall just outside devouring spiced roasted cauliflowers, grilled aubergine with cucumbers and red peppercorns, mixed beans with dill and coriander seeds, and crushed beetroots with labne and grains of paradise. does it sound as simply delicious, uncomplicated yet sophisticated as it was? i haven’t even started on the desserts yet. maybe it’s best i leave it to your imagination. let me just say i have never seen meringue as large, tasty and beautiful. when we were paying for the food my cousin picked up a jar labeled Dukkah *(see below for more on this Egyptian spice blend) and asked if I’d ever cooked with it. i had not. Ottolenghi deli Notting Hillsaid jar was promptly paid for and tossed in my bag. “i’m sure my cousi will find a great way to use it” she said. well, i finally got around to using the Dukkah in a green bean and roasted chickpea (garbanzo) salad inspired by the genius food we’d shared that glorious sunny day in London. it was such a successful dish: pure and simple, filling, good for you, slightly spicy, crunchy, and really full of flavor. it’s been added to the list of favorites. i’m thinking a fresh jar of Dukkah might be just the excuse for another trip to London. i wish. 🙂dukkah roasted garbanzo beans

ingredients for 4-6 servings of salad:

  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (see roasted garbanzo bean recipe here-add Dukkah to the beans prior to roasting)-for roasting the beans you will need extra virgin olive oil, spices such as dukkah or cumin and cayenne pepper  for spiciness, sea salt, & pepper (to taste)
  • 2-3 cups cleaned haricots verts (or green beans), cooked for just a few minutes in lightly salted rapidly boiling water (until just tender) and then cooled down in ice bath to retain color and crispness
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (julienned)
  • 1 cup sliced (cubed) ripe tomatoes
  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tbs home made walnut-parsley easto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 of a small lemon or a lime, freshly juiced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup or lightly more crumbled french feta cheese

for the walnut-parsley pesto blend together in a blender with a steel blade:

green bean salad with pesto dressing


  • 1 large bunch (1 cup) fresh organic flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh organic basil (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 10-12 raw walnuts
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a few tsp of water may be needed to add to the blender to soften the pesto

build the salad in a shallow bowl starting with the cold (cooked) beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, chives or scallions, and crumbled cheese. top with slightly cooled but still crisp roasted garbanzo beans. dress with pesto dressing and mix just prior to serving. for the dressing combine 4-5 tbs of the pesto with lemon/lime juice and a few more tsp of olive oil if needed, mix well. taste and adjust seasoning. drizzle over the salad just before serving.

*Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture often served (marinated in olive oil) with pita bread. to make your own you will need:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

toast the sesame seeds and hazelnuts in the oven (separately), then combine all ingredients and grind in food processor for 3-4 minutes.



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