As our lives suddenly come to a halt, we can find comfort in kitchen. Longtime Slow Food leader in Portland, OR in the USA, Katherine Deumling, encourages you to “cook with what you have.”
Her instructional videos and recipes are essential for kitchens flooded with seasonal produce, thanks to CSAs and farmers market purchasing. Since the current coronavirus situation will likely keep you close to home, this raises the questions: What to cook? Are there ingredients I already have in the cupboard that I should deploy now to deliver sustenance, comfort and joy?
While I risk stating the obvious, beans and legumes are your best friend. Dried and affordable, they may be the best ingredients to turn to on Mondays. Also, double the recipe and redeploy the ingredients for other dishes. For instance, make a black bean soup on Monday. Use leftover black beans on Tuesday for tacos, bean salad or serve with rice.
Photographer Peter Menzel’s 2005 photo essay, Hungry Planet, captures a global snapshot of what weekly staples look like. Unsurprisingly, packaged and processed goods dominate in the Global North. Whereas in the Global South, families use more dried and fresh whole ingredients. I photographed mine. Apparently, I drink a lot of tea, eat a lot of rice, and keep a significant amount of tomato paste in stock. What’s in your cabinet? Take photos and share online with the hashtags #MeatTheChange and #MeatlessMonday. You can inspire others to hunker down, cook with what they have, and allow time together to rekindle the joy of cooking.
Improvisation matters more than recipe precision. Use everyday ingredients to stretch dollars, maximize upon time together, and stay away from 24 hour news as much as is possible. My first recommendation from the cupboard: Chickpeas for hummus, leftover peas for chickpea salad.
1 ½ cups (300g), dried chickpeas (once cooked, 1 ½ cups become 3 cups)
½ teaspoon, baking soda
1-2 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
¾ cup (or 300ml), tahini
Juice of 1-2 lemons (if you don’t have these, substitute with a splash of vinegar)
Pinches of ground cumin and red pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Handful of pine nuts, peanuts or sunflower seeds, for garnish
4 large carrots or celery, sliced into spears for dipping into hummus (or any crackers from the cupboard)
Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large saucepan; however, try this tip to quicken the softening of the dried legumes: Bring the chickpeas to a boil, then add baking soda and mix into the pot of hot water and chickpeas. Cover and let sit for the night on the kitchen counter.
The next day, rinse thoroughly and then place the chickpeas back into the large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a moderate heat and cook for at least an hour, or until soft and tender. Remove from the flame, and drain in a strainer. However, save some of the water for later. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Pour ½ of the chickpeas into a food processor or blender. Run the machine until the peas turn into a soft spread. Add garlic and salt. Pour the tahini into the machine, whilst running. Drizzle in lemon juice. Always taste to determine if more salt or lemon is needed. If the hummus is too thick, use some of the water you saved to dilute the mixture. Whereas Lebanese recipes call for more tahini, in Greece, they seem to use less. This may be a good moment to save tahini and cut the ¾ of a cup of tahini to ¼ and substitute the chickpea water. This will result in a thinner hummus. It will also be brighter and lighter in color.
Remove and spoon out the hummus into a shallow bowl to serve. Sprinkle cumin, red pepper powder. Drizzle with lots of olive oil. To give the simple dish an added touch, pan fry the pine nuts, until they turn a light brown and pour atop the hummus. Serve with raw carrots or celery stalks cut into spears for easy dipping. Or, serve with crackers or bread from the cupboard.
With the remaining 1½ cup of cooked chickpeas, place in a bowl or container, with a splash of vinegar of any kind, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix and then let sit in the fridge overnight. Take the lemons you juiced for the hummus, peel off the skin, and chop finely. Use whatever carrots, celery or cucumbers left over from the hummus meal, and chop finely and add into the salad. If there are any fresh herbs in the garden, chop and add to the salad. Any feta cheese around? Cubed, they would be a great addition too. Serve in salad bowls. To bulk it up, cook 1 cup of couscous or other grains you have on hand.
–> This recipe is part of the Meat the Change campaign, carried out to raise awareness among producers and consumers about the environmental impact of meat consumption and production. Find out more here
–> To learn more about Meatless Monday: Watch the videos about how it is going global; and the tour of Terra Madre. To join us, submit a recipe of your own via email ([email protected]). If you prepare this week’s recipe, post images online using the hashtags #MeattheChange and #MeatlessMonday.