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Talk about coming down from a high! I want to thank everyone for all of your incredible comments and support after my post about the cupcakes I baked for my coworker’s wedding. It was quite an experience and I’m looking forward to where it leads.

As exciting as it was, it was also exhausting. I spent most of Sunday and Monday trying to absorb it all. I couldn’t even begin to think about going back into the kitchen.

But now that it’s all sunk in, it’s time to get back to cooking. For the January 2008 Flavour of the Month, I chose the book Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy by Judith Barrett as my focus for the month.

When I looked at The Overburdened Bookshelf for this month’s choice, I knew that I wanted this month to be about comfort. I feel the urge for dishes that are slow-cooked and dense. I want to eat foods that stick to your ribs and help keep the cold at bay. I also wanted to finally showcase some recipes from what is a lovely book. As someone who once worked in publishing, I am mightily impressed by books that not only help you to produce beautiful food, but that are works of art in and of themselves. From the cover to the paper to the way the book is printed, it’s an extremely attractive piece of work.

For my first recipe, I couldn’t resist the siren call of chickpeas. I adore chickpeas. Growing up, one of my mother’s quickest and best side dishes on a weeknight was a simple salad of chickpeas and chopped red onions dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Such a versatile food, you can do a million things with chickpeas from adding them to pasta or soup, making dips with them or roasting them for a snack.

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I chose to try a recipe for a Whipped Chickpea and Potato Spread. Like my mother’s salad, this was almost ridiculously easy to put together and it vanished in minutes. And while I am not one to focus on the health benefits of food (we’re all adults … we all know what’s good for us), chickpeas are incredibly nutritious which makes this dip all the more attractive.

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Enjoy the month of beans!

Ciao!

Whipped Chickpea and Potato Spread
Adapted slightly from Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy by Judith Barrett.

Note: This makes about 2 cups of spread. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

1 cup chickpeas (you can use canned or you can use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 dried bay leaf
1 medium-sized potato, cut into quarters
one small piece of onion, finely chopped (the truth is you can use as much onion as you like …)
extra virgin olive oil (about half a cup)
salt and pepper to taste

Place the chickpeas, the garlic clove and the bay leaf in a pot and add 5 to 6 cups water. Bring to a boil.

If using chickpeas that were soaked overnight, simmer for one hour. If using canned chickpeas, you can proceed right away to the next step.

Once the chickpeas are tender (after having cooked for an hour if you used dried chickpeas), add the potato and cook for another 20 minutes or until the potato is tender.

Drain the mixture and let sit for about half an hour to cool a bit.

Discard the bay leaf and put everything else (including the chopped onion) into the bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture for about a minute to mash it up.

With the processor running, begin adding the olive oil through the feed tube. Continue adding until the mixture is creamy.

Add salt and pepper to taste and blend to combine.

Spoon the mixture into a bowl and drizzle with a bit of olive oil before serving.

Enjoy!