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Vibrant Food Recipes

Julia Bainbridge

Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Food written and photographed by Kimberley Hasselbrink (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).

Vibrant Food Recipes

FRESH CHICKPEAS on TOAST
Serves 6 to 8

Fresh chickpeas—who knew? I discovered these last spring at the farmers’ market. Eaten raw, they’re crunchy and green, similar to a fresh pea. Cooking fresh chickpeas causes them to lose their soft green color and turn into the beige legume we all know. It was my friend Stacy’s idea to pair these with toast—genius. They’re a nod to the spring classic, peas on toast, but the chickpea flavor is a little quieter. Their shelling requires patience; listen to music and share the task with a handful of friends and a bottle of wine.

1 baguette, sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
16 ounces fresh chickpeas in their pods (about 2 cups shelled)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint cut into ribbons (chiffonade), plus more for serving
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush each side lightly with olive oil. Toast the bread for about 20 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the chickpeas. Shell them and place in a medium bowl. You should have about 2 cups.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint, dill, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the chickpeas and toss to evenly distribute. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.

Assemble the toasts by spreading about 2 teaspoons of the ricotta mixture over each toast, followed by a spoonful of chickpeas and a drizzle of their dressing. Garnish with mint, dill, and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

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APRICOT and CHICKEN SALAD with TOASTED CUMIN VINAIGRETTE
Serves 4 to 6

Apricots can be so fussy. At their peak, they are heavenly, marvelous fruit, but so often what’s available at the supermarket is underripe and a little bland. Go for fragrant, rosy gold apricots at the peak of their season. The vibrant flavors of cumin and green herbs make this salad really sing. It’s great as a hearty weekday lunch.

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¾ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup sliced raw almonds
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 10 ounces)
4 fresh apricots (about 8 ounces), pitted and sliced
6 cups loosely packed wild arugula

To make the vinaigrette, in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, toast the cumin seeds until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, honey, cumin, paprika, and salt. Gradually whisk in the oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Whisk in the cilantro and parsley. Season with pepper.

To make the salad, in the same small frying pan, toast the almonds over medium-low heat, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

In a large serving bowl, toss together the chicken, apricots, half of the almonds, and the arugula. Drizzle with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss gently until the vinaigrette is evenly distributed. Garnish with the remaining almonds and season to taste with more salt if desired. Serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Store any leftover vinaigrette in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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GRILLED HALLOUMI with STRAWBERRIES and HERBS
Serves 4 to 6

I was inspired to make this by some snacks brought to a picnicky party: my friend Dafna’s spicy jalapeño jam and my friend Andy’s halloumi cheese. We grilled the cheese and doused it with the jam and it was the undeniable hit of the party. I liked the idea of going for something spicy, sweet, and fresh on top of this intriguing cheese, so I made a mess of strawberries and herbs to pile atop it for this version. Halloumi is a firm, salty cheese that keeps its shape when grilled or fried in a pan. It’s an awesome way to enjoy the unique pleasure of hot, melty cheese as a vehicle for food. It’s best to eat the cheese as soon as possible after it’s come out of the pan—the magic of halloumi happens when it’s hot. 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 serrano chile, seeds removed if desired, minced
Freshly ground black pepper 6 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (8- to 9-ounce) package halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, agave nectar, serrano, and pepper to taste. Toss the strawberries with the dressing and set aside.

Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat and add the 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, add the halloumi slices. Cook the cheese for 2 to 3 minutes per side without disturbing, until a deep brown crust forms.

Remove the cheese from the skillet and spoon the strawberry mixture over the slices of cheese. Serve immediately, while the cheese is still warm.

CHERRY BUTTERMILK CLAFOUTIS
Serves 6

I love the word clafoutis—a charming name for a simple dessert. Without those sweet-tart cherries dominating every bite, it would be nothing more than a straightforward custard. But the cherries elevate it. And the buttermilk lends a welcome tang that gives it a little edge over using regular milk in a clafoutis. I like to use brown rice flour in place of all-purpose flour when I can, which I recommend here to make this dish gluten-free.

½ cup natural cane sugar
16 ounces sweet cherries, pitted
3 eggs
1¼ cups buttermilk
⅓ cup almond flour
2 tablespoons brown rice or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan with unsalted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

Arrange the cherries in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, remaining sugar, almond flour, brown rice flour, vanilla, ginger, and salt until smooth. Pour evenly over the fruit.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set in the center. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center—if it comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready.

Allow to cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

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CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES with BEE POLLEN Makes
24 truffles

I first became familiar with bee pollen for its supposed allergy benefits. There was a jar of it sitting neglected in my fridge for months—until I dipped a spoon in, tried a little, and was hooked. The flavor is heavenly—a sweet-tart citrus taste with an intoxicating floral note. It’s an amazing partner with a strong, dark chocolate. Please note that if you’re allergic to honey, you shouldn’t eat bee pollen either.

⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
3 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cacao)
2 to 3 tablespoons bee pollen

To make the ganache, in a small saucepan, bring the heavy whipping cream to a low simmer. While the cream heats, coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a mixing bowl.

When the cream begins to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and pour the liquid over the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate and cream together steadily until the chocolate is thoroughly melted and the mixture is smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour.

While the ganache is cooling, prepare the bee pollen. Using the flat side of a large knife or a mortar and pestle, press the bee pollen until it breaks down. The bee pollen should have a powdery, crumbled texture. Place this in a small bowl and set aside until you are ready to prepare the truffles.

To make the truffles, measure 1 scant teaspoon of ganache and use your fingers to form it into a rough ball (like a small pebble). Roll the truffle in the bee pollen to thoroughly coat. Repeat with the remaining ganache.

Store the truffles in a tightly sealed container and keep in the fridge for no more than 3 days. The truffles have a tendency to melt a little in the fingers at room temperature, so serve them chilled, straight from the fridge.