Chickpeas, Spinach, Sweet Potato; CrackersAgain, I’ll reach back to the first: Ottolenghi the Cookbook, published in 2008. Of course, I’m indulging in the memories of my recent visit to the actual restaurant in London, with these two recipes.

Chickpeas & Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato
Ottolenghi the Cookbook
Serves 3-4

3½ oz. dried chickpeas
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. coriander seeds
½ Tbsp. tomato paste
7 oz. can diced tomatoes
½ tsp. superfine sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1.75 oz. baby spinach
.13 oz. cilantro
salt and black pepper

Honeyed Sweet Potato:
8.88 oz. sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into slices 1-inch thick
11.88 oz. water
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt

Yogurt Sauce:
1.75 oz. Greek yogurt
½ garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 1/2 lemon
½ tsp. dried mint

Start the night before by putting the chickpeas in a large bowl. Fill with enough cold water to cover the chickpeas by twice their height. Add the baking soda and leave to soak overnight at room temperature.

The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Occasionally you will need to skim the froth off the surface. You might also need to top up the pan with boiling water so the chickpeas remain submerged. When they are ready, drain them in a colander and set aside.

Put the sweet potatoes in a wide saucepan with the water, butter, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn them over half way through cooking to color evenly. Remove from heat and keep warm.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, prepare the sauce for the chickpeas. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds. Fry for 8 minutes, while stirring, until golden brown. Add the tomato paste, cook for a minute while you stir and then add the tomatoes, sugar, and ground cumin.  Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the spinach into the tomato sauce, then add the cooked chickpeas. Mix together and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste again and adjust the seasoning.

Make the yogurt sauce by whisking together all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange the sweet potato slices on top and garnish with the cilantro. Spoon the yogurt sauce on top or serve on the side.

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I cooked my beans for 1 hour. The taste/texture of cooked dried beans always surpasses canned. The soft sweet potato slices sit atop the cumin-seasoned chickpeas. And then, the lemony, tangy yogurt sauce tastes nice with the cumin, too.

Olive Oil Crackers
Ottolenghi the Cookbook
Makes about 25

8.88 oz. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
3.88 oz. water
.88 oz. olive oil, plus extra for brushing
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. black pepper
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the coarse sea salt to form a soft dough. You can do this by hand or in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Work it until you get a firm consistency, then cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Turn the dough onto a clean surface. Have a bowl of flour for dusting ready at the side. Use a large, sharp knife to cut off walnut-sized pieces from the dough. Roll out each piece as thinly as possible with a rolling pin, dusting with plenty of flour. They should end up looking like long, oval tongues, almost paper thin.

Place the crackers on a tray lined with parchment paper. Brush them with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Bake for about 6 minutes, until crisp and golden.

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Please yourself by making your own crackers. While your chickpeas are cooking in the recipe above, use the dough hook in your mixer to make this cracker dough. I rolled 18 crackers which were a bit too thick, perhaps. I baked them for 8 minutes, then enjoyed the crispy cayenne/paprika warmth.

Dried Chickpeas (3½ oz.) = .36¢
Baby Spinach (1.75 oz.) = .97¢

PREP TIMES: soak chickpeas over night, cook for 1 hour while sweet potatoes cook for 40 minutes; mix cracker dough and refrigerate for 1 hour, roll and bake for 8 minutes
TASTES: cumin-spice chickpeas and soft sweet potatoes garnished with lemony tangy yogurt; crispy crackers warmed by cayenne/paprika

Next time, I hope to once again share more Things I Ate In London, 2017. Come back to my site next week, to read more of my travelogue.