I was asked to bring a soup for a group of friends getting together for a casual, coastal overnight in beautiful west Marin. There were a number of recipes that were contenders, but a spicy chickpea soup from Yotam Ottolenghi's upcoming cookbook, Plenty More, caught my attention. It features a seductive, red harissa broth fragrant with cumin, coriander, and caraway, and enough chickpeas and bulgur to make it work as a main course. An herb-whipped feta is the crowning dollop.
A spinach recipe you should try. It's an adaptable dish that downshifts seamlessly from main attraction to supporting role depending on the quantity of leftovers at hand. The jist: a hot pan filled with all manner of things that work well with spinach - toasted walnuts, shredded mint, lemon, a host of spices, and a good amount of leeks that are cooked until silky tender.
Traditional and tasty, this soup is a test of patience and restraint. If you're easily distracted, skip it. If you can mind a pot, stirring, singularly-focused, for a half hour, perhaps longer, you'll be rewarded with a beautiful, vegetarian version of the herbed, Persian yogurt soup, Ashe Mast.
Pungent, herby, and assertive, this is an incredibly versatile sauce. From Deborah Madison's new book, Vegetable Literacy, it's made with pounded capers, walnuts, green olives, and a load of herbs - the perfect slather for everything from sandwiches and pasta to egg salad and vegetables.
Za'atar is an incredibly versatile Middle Eastern spice blend, one of my favorites. Particularly this time of year when it's a welcome addition to all sorts of roasted vegetables, soups and stews, or simply sprinkled over everything from yogurt, to eggs, to savory granola.