“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?” ~ Michael Pollan
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When it comes to time spent cooking, it seems I've fallen on the minimal side as of late. With the first hints of spring, there are a million other things I'd rather be doing.
I've been a long-time follower of Michael Pollan's work. His NY Times columns have always been great, all of his books have a home on our bookshelf, and his cookbooks are some of my favorites to gift.
With his new Netflix series Cooked, I'm happy for yet another avenue to learn from him. Not only about the way the world eats, but how people's tendencies with cooking and food have changed over time.
In 2009 he quoted a statistic that the average American spent a mere twenty-seven minutes a day on food prep (+ another four minutes cleaning up). Today, it's fallen to twelve. My goodness, can that be right?
Certainly, I do love to cook, and I assume most of The Veggie's daily readers do as well. So in all practicality, we'd fall on the upper end of the food prep spectrum. But it still makes me sad that know that more than ever before, obesity, and diseases like diabetes have become part of our everyday vocabulary, and in a lot of ways
these statistics have contributed
Certainly, I understand all of the pulls we face every day, and that time can feel like a commodity. In the majority of households, both adults work, with the kids and furry creatures going in a million different directions. Everyone is tired and doing their level best simply to muddle through
Not to mention the cost. No to ways about it, fresh and organic produce is significantly more expensive than a frozen dinner. It all begs the question, why would anyone choose to cook, when the alternative is cheaper, simpler, and so much faster?
As an advocate for whole foods, I can argue the case for a sheet-pan of roasted veggies, or a pot of slow-cooked beans, on even our busiest of days. A recipe like this one that calls for minimal hands-on time and a long slow simmer on the stove-top can pair with several different proteins or whole grains.
That being said, I'm far from above the many pulls life can bring
Over the years, I've made many attempts at fighting off distractions when it comes to a home-cooked meal. In many cases, cooking nearly twice what I think the two of us will reasonably eat. I'll then tuck the left-overs in the freezer to bring to my children's families when I visit, impromptu get-togethers, or for us when the days are busy.
An ideal world would find me doing better with meal planning, but admittedly, I'm far from utopia. We're not above picking up a salad, soup, and a sandwich from the Co-op to get us by
My sincerest hope is for our culture to find its sea legs again when it comes to cooking, a fundamental shift of sorts in our collective spirits. To realize preparing a meal doesn't have to be complicated to produce something delicious, as well as nutritious. To really take note of, and understand the impact it will have on our
If you haven't had an opportunity to watch an episode of Cooked, it's definitely a series worth seeking out.
Admittedly, I often reach for canned chickpeas; with ease and convenience that is hard to beat. There's no denying that something magical happens when I go the extra mile to soak and cook my own. A process that turns this humble pantry staple into something truly extraordinary.
These chickpeas began by soaking overnight, they're drained and boiled rapidly for five minutes, and drained again. From there they're cooked slowly in a rich, thick sauce of pureed red pepper, onion, and tomato.
After five(!) hours you'll have the most delicious savory bean stew, with meltingly soft chickpeas that are saturated with flavor.
It's more than worth your effort to make a double batch. They mellow and get better after a few days in the fridge, and they freeze beautifully
Ottolenghi served his with thick toasted sourdough bread, poached eggs, and a sprinkling of za'atar. It makes for a luxurious breakfast. My preference? On flatbread with a bit of yogurt to cut the heat.
~ Adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
Spicy Slow-Cooked Chickpeas and Egg on Toast
- 1 ¼ cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight in water to cover mixed with 2 Tsp. baking soda)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 ½ tsp tomato paste
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into ¼" dice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
- 1 tomato, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ tsp natural sugar
- 4 slices sourdough bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted on both sides
- 4 poached eggs
- 2 tsp za'atar
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with plenty of water.
- Place over high heat, bring to a boil, skim the surface and boil for 5 minutes.
- Drain and set aside.
- To the bowl of a food processor, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika, bell peppers, 1 tsp. salt, and black pepper to taste.
- Puree until a paste has formed
- Wipe out the saucepan used for the chickpeas, and return it to the stove over medium heat and add the paste.
- Fry for five minutes, stirring occasionally, before adding the tomato, sugar, chickpeas and a scant 1 cup water.
- Bring to a low simmer, cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. (Add more water, as needed to maintain a sauce-like consistency)
- Remove the lid and cook 1 hour more .. until the sauce has thickened without the chickpeas becoming dry
- Place a piece of warm toast on each plate and spoon the chickpeas on top.
- Arrange a poached egg on top, followed by a sprinkle of zaatar and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Serve immediately