Cooking from the Farmers’ Market Back Home

Tomato and Chickpea Soup with Yogurt and Mint 1 3648x2736As soon as we arrived home last week, after a long stay in France, I started stocking our empty fridge and cupboards. Several trips to local supermarkets took care of the basics, but it was at our weekly farmers’ market that I found gorgeous summer vegetables, freshly baked loaves of bread, and locally crafted yogurt.

Honest-to-goodness tomatoes, deep red, juicy, and packed with flavor, were the first thing that caught my eye. They would be perfect to use for a summer tomato and chickpea soup—a dish I had created for my new book, Soup Nights.

The tomatoes need only to be chopped and seeded, then simmered slowly with chickpeas in a cumin-scented broth. Lemon, yogurt, and mint all contribute cooling accents to this soup. I used chicken broth for my version, but vegetarians can sub the quick-and-easy vegetable stock recipe that is also included. Continue reading

First Home Cooked Meal in Paris!

Lamb chops, Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Mint 2 4032x3024Following a brief trip to London, we made our way to Paris and settled in the apartment we rent. After eating out for several days across the Channel, I couldn’t wait to go to the nearby markets and buy the makings for a simple supper. I decided on lamb chops marinated in a spicy mix of harissa, lemon juice, and olive oil along with fresh herbal accents of mint and cilantro. As a garnish for the lamb, I reserved some of this marinade as a dressing for cherry tomatoes and chickpeas.

Harissa, a North African condiment made with hot red peppers, garlic, and spices, is available throughout France. At home in the States, you can find it at few groceries, but your best option might be to order it from Amazon. Although I’ve seen it in jars, I prefer the harissa paste sold in tubes like the one here. Continue reading

A Great All-In-One Dish for Busy Weeknights

Chicken with Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Spinach 2Everyone does it! We pick up the phone and call for take-out when our lives are so rushed there’s no way we can get homemade food on the table. I confess that I have the neighborhood pizza place and the near-by Mexican restaurant on speed dial for weeknight emergencies. The truth is, though, that I’m never thrilled with these quick fixes. I’d much rather be pulling something fresh from my fridge to heat up — something like Chicken with Tomatoes, Chick Peas, and Spinach, a new dish I created recently.

Here is a recipe that wins on more than one front. It’s simple to prepare, calls for easily found ingredients, and holds up well when made a couple of days ahead. Oh, and did I mention that it’s healthy and inexpensive too! You simply season chicken thighs (with or without the skin, your choice) with basil and oregano, then brown them along with chopped carrots, onions, and celery. Next, the thighs and vegetables are simmered in stock, tomatoes, and wine about 45 minutes until tender. Finally, you stir in chickpeas and baby spinach and cook only minutes more. Continue reading