Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer, With a Side of Summer

After coming down from my Daring Bakers high, I thought it might be nice to write about something that's a little but, um, lighter than the ol' Danish braid. Yes, I still have half of my pastry dough relaxing in the freezer, but that's for another time. Maybe another season.

I've been working on a couple of baking recipes - more Red Ramekin-ish than the Danish - but those, too, will have to wait. For now, it's something light. And summery. Actually, I have two recipes to share; they originally were destined for different posts, but somehow ended up on one plate today (a girl's gotta eat), and they looked and tasted so lovely together that I thought I'd keep them that way. Besides, they both just scream summer, and as I write this, there is a hot-summer cloudburst splattering against the street below...

But who needs nice weather when you have a kitchen? The dish of the day is oven-baked chickpea fritters with lemon-tahini sauce, served on a squash and carrot ribbon salad. Kind of a mouthful, in more ways than one.

The fritters were last night's dinner, playing the starring role in a cast of typical Mediterranean characters: simple bulgur with olive oil and a version of this delicious chickpea salad, with canned tuna substituting in for the chickpeas (which, of course, were busy being fritters). Dinner last night exemplified everything I love about summer cooking and eating: the tomatoes in the salad were delicious and sweet, the cucumber cool and subtle, and the fritters were satisfying yet light, with the green brightness of fresh parsley and the playful bite of tahini.

The salad was today's creation, as I had three petite, bright-yellow summer squash in the fridge that needed using. I'll admit that this salad is really more about aesthetics than anything else. Although it tastes lovely, it's really its beauty that makes it blog-worthy. The mingling ribbons of orange and yellow, flecked with green parsley, would liven up any plate.

It just happened that the plate it livened up today was also holding some chickpea fritters, but either of these dishes would be great alone or mixed and matched with other summery foods. A note about the fritters: I give very rough measurements for seasonings, but encourage tasting to get it just right. Being able to taste before cooking is reason enough to have these instead of meatballs or burgers! I also used Penzey's Turkish seasoning in addition to the spices listed below. Be careful not to process the mixture too much, as you don't want to make hummus. Small chunks of onion and chickpea will add nice texture to the finished fritters. Oh, and a note about the sauce - it is not optional! I mean, I'm not going to make you serve it, but seriously, you should. It is incredibly simple, yet balances the flavor and texture of the fritters really, really well.

As for the salad, a formal recipe seems presumptuous. Simply cut summer squash (zucchini would work, too) into small matchsticks, and blanch in boiling, salted water for about 30 seconds. Rinse and drain to stop the cooking. Using a vegetable peeler, make carrot ribbons out of 2 carrots, and mix these with the squash matchsticks. Add a few tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs and dress with any light dressing. I dressed it with a simple, mustard-based vinaigrette, but any dressing - even pesto - would be nice. Use whatever you have on hand, or whatever goes best with the other items you are serving.

Did someone say summer? Enjoy!

Chickpea Fritters with Tahini-Lemon Sauce (makes many fritters; can be halved)

Chickpea Fritters:
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 c. parsley, roughly chopped
2 eggs
1/2 c. bulgur
glug of olive oil
hearty pinch of dried aleppo pepper
salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika, to taste

Tahini Sauce:
Juice from half a lemon
1 tbs. tahini
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1/4 c. plain yogurt
salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste

Soak bulgur in about 1/2 c. boiling water until water is absorbed. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine chickpeas, onion, parsley, and olive oil. Pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Remove mixture to a large bowl, and season with spices. Add bulgur and stir to combine. Taste for seasonings, and adjust. Add eggs and mix. Add additional olive oil, if necessary, to achieve proper consistency for making patties. Shape mixture into small patties and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 F for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and bottom. Meanwhile, make sauce by mixing all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.


Kristin at The Kitchen Sink said...

Mia: I clicked through to your site through FP Daily the other day and I'm so glad to have found it. So many of your recipes look and sound delicious! This salad is gorgeous and the "fritters" sound excellent.

Mrs. M said...

It sounds good and the pictures are lovely.

Helen said...

Fabulous light dish! I love any kind of chickpea fritters and the salad look lovely and crunchy.

Jj said...

Wow, everything looks wonderful - great job on the pictures!