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Saturday, August 13

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Recipe Tue Aug 21 2007

Vegging on two Quick Dinners

Green City Market. Opening Day 2007.-24.jpg

I love leisurely cooking with friends. Sometimes that means more time for sipping wine and chatting than prepping food. And that's when it's time for simple recipes that don't need precision - especially after a relaxing bike trip for groceries. Some might say that rainy days aren't fun for bicycle riding, but I think those are some of the best times. Muggy Chicago summer usually drops several degrees, the air feels refreshed and the streets are cool, not hot. Yet I don't want to get wet by another downpour. A German pal sent me a rain poncho with finger straps you use to extend the poncho over your legs as you grip the handlebars. It goes brilliantly with waterproof panniers to keep your groceries dry.

I've recently made two quick dinners that I think are fun and tempting. Dinner 1: Noodles in red sauce, but with flat (Japanese) udon noodles for a softer taste than the harder Italian pasta that's made from coarsely ground semolina. Dinner 2: Sautéed chickpeas - the staple of the classic falafel sandwich - mashed up into veggie burgers with breadcrumbs. Remember to use enough oil to keep everything in the pan shiny without sitting in pools of it, and it'll be tasty.

Pasta with Red Sauce, Japanese Udon noodles instead

For the noodles, sauté one diced yellow onion in olive oil for a few minutes on medium until translucent. Stir in a 16-ounce can of rinsed chickpeas, about 32 ounces of canned pasta sauce or tomato sauce, one handful chopped cilantro and another handful of chopped mushrooms. (I used dehydrated mushrooms, soaked in water for a few hours to soften while I popped out to walk to the liquor store for chickpeas). Cook the noodles until al dente (leftovers will soften quite nicely). Then drain and rinse them to stop the cooking. Salt the sauce, add kale and cover until the greens soften. Mix sauce with noodles and serve.

About 1/2 pound flat dry udon noodles, cooked
Olive oil
16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
32-ounces can of pasta or tomato sauce
Handful cilantro, chopped (optional)
Handful mushrooms, chopped (optional)
5 leaves of kale, or another green (optional)
Salt

Yields: About 3 servings

Chickpea Burgers

To make the burgers, I sautéed a handful each of coriander and mustard seeds, one handful of curry leaves, and a pinch each of chili powder and paprika in olive oil just until fragrant. Your favorite spices will work just fine - and the oil will bring dried ones to life. Next, stir in one diced yellow onion. Cook a few minutes until translucent, and then add a 16-ounce can of rinsed chickpeas. Give some ten shakes of salt and cook until nicely browned and until any loose water in the pan evaporates. Then cool until warm enough to touch and blend with a handful of chopped cilantro in a food processor (or mash with a potato masher). Transfer to a bowl, and stir in just enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture firm. Form into patties, and pan fry with olive oil until crispy on each side, flipping of course. Serve on crusty white bread with ripe avocado smeared all over each piece, plus sliced tomatoes.

Patties
Olive oil
Handful coriander seeds
Handful mustard seeds
Handful curry leaves
Pinch chili powder
Pinch paprika
16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
Salt
Handful cilantro, chopped
Breadcrumbs

To Serve
Crusty white bread
Ripe avocado, one for two sandwiches
Tomato

Yield: 4 thick patties

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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