A full truckload of family belongings in tow, we left our narrow townhouse in Chicago―with its rooftop deck that overlooked the sights and sounds of Cub’s games at Wrigley field in summer―to make our way to Etna where a new home awaited us on a wide open hillside at the edge of the woods and the Appalachian Trail. That was sixteen years ago. I remember wondering if we could take root here, what might we grow on the empty hillside, how would we change, could we meet the challenge to transform ourselves from hearty mid-westerners to stoic New Englanders. We had moved to New Hampshire to raise our then 4-year-old son. Now twenty, he is an adult but still a part of us, along with our daughter who was born after we arrived, and all that has happened in this household these past sixteen years are collectively the stories of our family.
I pause to reflect on all this in summer in part because it marks the anniversary of our arrival, but also because summer is a time of both renewal and loss. The pink peonies we planted shortly after we arrived in 1997 start to bloom right around Clark’s birthday in June and the golden lilies arrive on my birthday in late July. As one set of plants begins to wither, making room for the next to burst out in full color, I think of my sisters who both died in summer. They would have loved to have seen this place we call home.
New England is indeed home and we have built connections with community and friends here that are strong and deeply rooted in love. While I will never have the same reserve I find amongst the people in this area of the country, I do aspire to the independent spirit of my neighbors. While my talents are more in the kitchen than in the garden, I have come to appreciate the energy that goes into building a garden, into growing the foods we put on our table every day.
This dish of Spiced Chickpeas with Crispy Radishes and Fresh Herbsis one I created last week for our friends Catherine and Bill. Catherine, who also has roots in Chicago, was one of the first people I met when we moved here. She and Bill helped me develop a love of the land, a love of the history of this area, a love of the flavors of truly fresh garden vegetables. The fresh herbs along with the crunch of the radishes are the stars of this dish, while the chickpeas have a creamy texture surrounded by the spice of roasted garam masala. Delicious on its own, or as part of a large meal―we had ours with grilled chicken, green salad and pita chips―this is a perfect summer dish to share with friends.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
SPICED CHICKPEAS WITH CRISPY RADISHES & FRESH HERBS
Yield: 4 Servings
- ½ cup dried chickpeas
- 2 cups fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil or lovage, rinsed and lightly chopped
- 8 radishes, rinsed trimmed and sliced into thin circles
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala*
- juice of 1 lemon or lime
- zest of 1 lemon or lime, finely minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl of cold water. The next day, drain and place in a large saucepan, and cover the water with twice the volume of the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour, until very tender. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- In a large bowl, toss together the fresh herbs and radishes.
- Place a large skillet on the stove top. Add the olive oil and heat until it sizzles. Add the minced garlic cloves and the garam masala. Cook until the garlic cloves are translucent and the garam masala is golden, about one minute. Add the cooked chickpeas. Toss the chickpeas with the flavored oil until they are fully coated. Remove from the stove top and allow to cool slightly.
- Add the spiced chickpeas to the bowl of prepared fresh herbs and radishes. Toss together to combine. Add the lemon juice, zest, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss again to combine.
- Divide between 4 serving plates.
- If you do not have the time to soak fresh chickpeas, substitute 2 cups canned. Rinse the canned beans before proceeding with the recipe.
- Garam masala is Indian spice blend. Use your favorite prepared blend or substitute the following dried spices: 1 tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cardamom, ½ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, pinch cayenne pepper. If you prefer a more European flavoring to this dish, substitute 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence for the garam masala.
- To make this dish a fuller meal, consider topping it with fresh yogurt and serve prepared naan or pita bread alongside it. It also goes well with: Colorful Kitchari,Cucumber and Yogurt Relish, or Elegant Eggplant Soup.
- This recipe was adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottotolenghi and Sami Tamimi.