Spicy chickpeas with cauliflower, raisins & olives

File under “C” – Chickpeas, cauliflower, chard, cumin, cayenne…

Everyone in my family has started on the winter cycle of sniffles, so I thought it would be nice to have something brothy and spicy – something that clears your head when you breathe in the vapors. We had this over pasta, but it would also be good with couscous or rice, or even with just a crusty loaf of bread. The seasoning is simple but slightly unusual – thyme, allspice, cumin, and as much cayenne as you like. “Raisins and olives?” you cry! In the same dish! Yes! They’re actually delicious together. The raisins impart a mysterious sweetness, and the olives lend their good old olive-y saltiness. Finished with a squeeze of lemon and topped with crumbled goat cheese, this easy, quick workaday dinner has a complex blend of spicy, sweet and tart that goes together perfectly, and makes it quite memorable.

Here’s Wild Mountain Thyme by the Tannahill Weavers. Bloomin’ heather!
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Not necessarily hummus

Hummus is delicious – but the lovely subtle chickpea lends itself to all sorts of flavor combinations. Nothing could be easier than to whip up a chickpea dip, and it’s a wonderful recipe to have on hand to feed unexpected guests. In the summer, when it’s too hot to cook, or after work, when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook, this makes a nice dinner with some good bread and a good salad. Hummus, french fries and red wine is actually a favorite meal of ours! Store-bought hummus is surprisingly expensive. But a can of chickpeas is very cheap, and dried chickpeas are even cheaper. I tend to use canned – I do for most beans. I like to cook them from dried, but I don’t always decide what I’m going to make early enough to provide for soaking & cooking time. I’ve found that the secret ingredient to making a hummus with a light pleasant consistency is … water! A little bit of water added at the end and blended in really pulls everything together in a surprising way. Yup.

Here’s Hank Mobley’s The Dip, to listen to while you decide what to add to your chickpeas.
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