I’m not one for actually using cookbooks. Don’t get me wrong, I love them and I have enough of them to fill quite a few shelves in my house, but I have a really hard time following a recipe the way that its written. I tend to look at a recipe for inspiration and then change quite a few (read: most) things, the end result being delicious, but not often bearing much resemblance to the original. And then I met Alison Roman. I say “met” because her writing style makes me feel as though we are old friends, but I don’t actually know her. I’d heard all of the hype about THE cookies from her new-ish book Dining In and decided I wanted to check it out. Side note- I am also very particular about cookbooks, so I don’t often rush out to the store and buy one. I usually check them out of the library so that I can browse through and decide if I will actually use anything in it as inspiration or if it will just collect dust on my shelf. So in my hesitant and frugal style, I checked the book out from the library. A few minutes into thumbing through the pages, I knew that this one was a rarity, a cookbook that would soon become a collection of dog-eared and sauce-stained pages and that I will cook out of for years to come. After a short conversation with Alexa, my very own copy was on its way. (Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the wonder that is Amazon.)
In the few months that I have had Dining In in my possession, I have cooked more from it than any other book that I’ve owned and I think its because it fits my “do it your own way” cooking style. More than gaining recipes and instruction, I have gleaned knowledge from this book and incorporated an array of tips and techniques into my everyday cooking. Salt and pepper your greek yogurt and put it on everything—absolutely. Simmer a bunch of spices in oil and then cook everything in it— let’s do it. Though I still haven’t followed a single recipe exactly the way that its written, Alison has gifted me with all sorts of tidbits and tricks that have made me a better cook and maybe that was her plan all along.
These chickpeas were created by adapting a spiced lentil recipe from Alison’s book Dining In. They are addicting and delicious and sure to become part of your weekly rotation. (Also, you can make them with lentils and leftover refrigerator rice and you won’t be disappointed.)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. Fennel seed, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Mixed fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley, chopped (optional )
Place olive oil, coriander, fennel seed, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Warm over low heat for 10 minutes, then increase heat slightly, and add garlic. Simmer slowly for another 7-10 minutes, until garlic is soft and fragrant, but not burning.
Turn heat to medium and add chickpeas. Simmer another 5-7 minutes, until chickpeas are warmed through. Squeeze lemon juice over the chickpeas and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh herbs to finish.
*This recipe can be made with lentils (or really any other bean you would like), by substituting 1 cup of cooked lentils for the chickpeas.