Talking with my father on the phone last week, he wondered why the heck the structure and content of my blog was changing. He thought y’all would want to know what was going on, too. Isn’t that sweet? There’s not too much change, really: I’ve just created a schedule (Tuesday and Friday, every week!), and broadened the scope of what I produce. I’ve done this to keep myself inspired, and it’s working. I was by no means in a slump before, but now I feel extra enthusiastic. It is so awesome to have more focus: to bookmark interesting and inspiring stuff all over the internet throughout the week, and to deeply consider the nuance and tone of colors in produce. I kind of missed the structure that the Seasonal Food Guide provided, and now I have something new to anchor both myself and this place.
Although it is not spring, at all, something in this fresh start feels very springlike. It’s influencing the food I make, too: there seems to be a penchant for bright, vibrant foods rather than the muted earth tones so common to slow-cooked winter meals. I’m okay with that.
The preserved lemon is kind of amazing in this context. That and this simple parsley pesto bring the pasta to life. The chickpeas are first sauteed in a little olive oil and garlic, giving them a creamy interior and crisped exterior. Throw in some young spinach leaves and you’re set. This is all kinds of easy goodness.
PRESERVED LEMON + CHICKPEA PASTA WITH PARSLEY PESTO
8 ounces pasta of choice (brown rice pasta used here)
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, separated
15 ounce can of chickpeas, thoroughly drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups coarsely chopped, fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
2 quarters preserved lemon, chopped (equal to 1/2 lemon; substitute zest + 1 tbsp lemon juice if no preserved lemons on hand)
1/3 cup reserved pasta water
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil and then cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water and then drain. Set aside in pot to keep warm
While pasta is cooking, heat a medium skillet over a medium low flame. Add two teaspoons olive oil. Add one clove of the minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chickpeas. Saute for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Combine the remaining clove of garlic with the 1/3 cup of olive oil, the parsley and the almonds. Puree in a food processor until a coarse paste has formed.
Toss the warm pasta with the spinach leaves to wilt them. Add the pesto, chickpeas, preserved lemons and gently toss. If a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water for creaminess.
Taste to see if the preserved lemons provide enough salt. Season to taste with sea salt if desired, along with freshly cracked black pepper. Best served immediately.