Sometimes, I find that I have developed an unintentional theme for a week, or that an ingredient shows up in multiple meals. A few weeks ago, it was spinach. Once, it was Brussels sprouts. This week, it’s chickpeas. I almost never made anything with chickpeas before moving to Texas. Since then, I make my own hummus once a month, and I’ve used it a few times in various dishes. This week, it makes four appearances (including once as leftovers in a dinner). I used one 14-oz can and a pound of dried chickpeas, which just goes to show how far this ingredient can reach. Also, chickpeas are cheap, especially if you buy them dried. And have I mentioned that they’re healthy? And delicious. Definitely an ingredient I don’t mind using over and over and over again.


Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs with Smashed Chickpea Salad (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)


Visually, the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is amazing – the photography is incredible, and the food looks spectacular. Content-wise, I wasn’t impressed. Of the hundred or so recipes, only a handful looked like anything I would want to make. This was one of them. The meatballs were fabulous. Full of flavor, wonderfully moist, and texture-ally pleasing. I don’t think we could have asked for a better meatball. But it would have benefited from a sauce of some kind. We eventually agreed that what the meatballs really needed was a good tzatziki. That would have been just perfect. What wasn’t so perfect was the chickpea “salad.” It was okay. Geordie wasn’t impressed, and though I thought it was alright, it didn’t go with the meatballs at all. It was kinda dull. And dry. Tzatziki might have helped it out a bit too. It was like a deconstructed hummus, and I would much rather just eat the hummus. I’m sure we’ll do the meatballs again in the future (maybe with rice-stuffed dolmas! I would love to make homemade dolmas!), but I don’t think the chickpea salad would be a repeat.


Bangers & Colcannon (from Smells Like Home)


It would be a crime to let St. Patrick’s Day go by without an Irish dinner. I couldn’t find any good Irish-style (or even English-style) bangers – it’s all chorizo and Italian sausage around here. I ended up buying some chicken sausage from Whole Foods, and I’m glad I did. Not only was it much healthier than standard sausage, it tasted wonderful. It had a distinct apple flavor, which went very nicely with the gravy, which had a Guinness base and was spike with brown sugar. The colcannon was also fantastic, and I would happily make that again any time of the year. These leftovers didn’t last past the next day, which is not typical for our household. I almost wish I’d made more!


Beef Tagine with Orange & Bay (from Cooking Season by Season)


This was weird. It was strange. It wasn’t bad, it was just a little odd. The beef was good, the chickpeas were good, the orange was good, the broth was terrific – it just never really all came together. We couldn’t decide if we liked it or not. I still can’t decide. Probably would not make it again, and I’m wondering if the leftovers will ever get eaten. The can of chickpeas went into this meal, and I almost wish I’d used the cooked chickpeas instead. I can’t help but wonder if their freshness would have helped this meal out a little.


Skillet Lasagna (from Annie’s Eats) and spinach salad with lemon-balsamic dressing


This would have been perfect if I hadn’t burned the chorizo (which I used in place of Italian sausage, because I love chorizo, and I do not love Italian sausage). The recipe directions never suggest stirring while the lasagna is simmering away on the stove, and though I wondered how correct that might be, I figured maybe it would be okay. Ten minutes later, I could smell chorizo burning. Fortunately, I caught it before it was completely ruined. Yes, it tastes a little burnt, but I actually don’t mind that. Plus, a little bit of brown sugar helped to sweeten up the burnt taste a tad. So, it all worked out. This was/is so delicious. It’s making for excellent leftovers.


Cornish Hens with Mushrooms (from Cooking Season by Season) and leftover Smashed Chickpea Salad


I had intended to make a risotto to go with this – our Spring Equinox meal – but it was not my best of days. We pulled out the last of the chickpea salad from Saturday and used that as our side. It didn’t really seem to fit into the meal, but it tasted good with the sauce, so it was fine. This mushroom sauce was awesome, by the way. I loved it – so mushroomy and tangy and vinegary. Geordie thought it was just okay. He doesn’t appreciate gravies spiked with white wine and vinegar the way I do. I would have happily eaten the gravy by itself. The Cornish hens were okay but nothing spectacular. I would have preferred a whole chicken. This was not the grand special dinner I had hoped to make, but it turned out alright in the end. (also, Happy Birthday, Mama! I was thinking of you when I was making these.)


Spicy Chickpea Soup (from Cook Like a Rock Star)


This was a good soup, but it would have been much better suited for a cool autumn evening. It felt a little out of place for a warm and sunny spring dinner. It’s a hearty type of soup, very satisfying. And it tastes very strongly of chickpea, which is a bit on the odd side. Geordie said it felt much more like a sauce than a soup, and for a snack later, he heated up some leftover chicken with it and enjoyed it that way. The croutons I made for this were pretty fabulous – crunchy and full of flavor. Croutons are another one of those things I don’t see the point of buying in a store; I’ve got bread to spare, and homemade croutons just taste so much better. This was a nice non-meat dish, and though I used chicken broth, it could easily be made with vegetable broth for a vegetarian meal. It was also really easy to make, a perfect meal for the end of a long and wearisome week.