Day 5: Cook a healthy meal for yourself
Meet with The Man whose cooking enlightened our months of lockdown (and beyond).
I had tried all the rice recipes of the universe, and I couldn’t stand Asian food anymore. Out of despair, I had enrolled into the Masterclasses and opted for a Middle Eastern Cooking Class hoping that different tastes and flavors would inspire me ..
That’s when Mr Ottolenghi popped up with his big smile and engaging ways. I chose him because of the pictures of signature dishes. I had never seen so many bright colors on a menu. Icing on the cake, it all seemed accessible, especially for a newbie like me:
He did not deceive! He is our most trusted influencer and we even have a name for our favorite Comfort Food: The Ottolenghi Pasta. The taste, the texture, the spices, the colors, the looks, it has it all. It’s a masterpiece in every single way. But before the meal reached this pinacle, it started as a journey…
The journey to orecchiette puttanesca with spiced crispy chickpeas (turning the kitchen into a meditation room)
It started with the shopping. Meeting with some spices I had never heard let alone tasted in Asia. It was an incredible experience to smell and taste something for the first time, to witness how much a fragrance can change when you cook it. This is the best way to experience mindfulness 🙂
The recipe introduced me to caraway seeds. It tasted a bit like anis and fennel, but also had a glimpse of cumin. In other words, it was pretty unique. It also introduced me to another way to cook chickpeas other than the everlasting boring hummus. I had never tasted chickpeas a little dry, with this delicious tomato mix.
Cooking something like that for the first time is very exciting, because it awakens all your senses. Knowing it’s very healthy also adds a feeling of self care. I love that!
It’s also fun to discover other kind of pastas. I had never cooked Orechiettas before, they weren’t common in the Asian countries we used to live in. Luckily we were able to feel the excitement of cooking something totally new!
The herbs, the flavors and the texture. When Ottolenghi teaches cooking, he always instructs to be “generous” and “big on flavor, low on effort”, and it resonates with me. It cheers me up immediately.
Enough talking, here is the recipe…
Enjoy and feel free to share a healthy meal you love cooking 🙂
One pot orecchiette puttanesca that is deeply savory with pops of flavor from cherry tomatoes, loads of capers, fresh herbs and pan-fried spiced crispy chickpeas.
Yield: 4 servings
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and patted dry
- 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- kosher salt
- 2 cups parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 4 tbsp baby capers
- 9 oz small, sweet cherry tomatoes
- 2 tsp sugar
- 9 oz dried orecchiette pasta
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp water
- black pepper, to taste
In a large saute pan with high sides, combine 3 tbsp of the olive oil, the garlic, chickpeas, paprika, cumin, tomato paste, and ½ tsp salt over medium-high heat. Saute the chickpeas with the spices for 12 minutes, or until crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove a third of the chickpeas and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the parsley, lemon zest, and capers. Add two thirds of the parsley mixture to the pan along with the cherry tomatoes and sugar. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring often, then mix in the pasta, broth, water, and ¾ tsp salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then decrease the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 12-14 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.
Stir the remaining parsley mixture into the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and divide among serving plates. Top with the reserved crispy chickpeas and freshly ground black pepper just before serving.
Recipe from Ottolenghi Flavor