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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
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PIZZA, LENTILS, CHICKPEAS – EASY ON THE GARLIC
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About this blog
By Linda Bassett
Author and culinary school teacher Linda Bassett provides recipes for and tips on the season's freshest ingredients. She is the author of \x34From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.\x34 Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol. ...
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Kitchen Call
Author and culinary school teacher Linda Bassett provides recipes for and tips on the season's freshest ingredients. She is the author of \x34From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.\x34 Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol.com.
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By lindabcooks
March 28, 2013 11:21 a.m.



Fridays in my grandmother’s kitchen.  Try as she would to keep the customs of her home country, we grandkids spent every waking minute dragging her into the present.  But she had us beat on Fridays.  Her customary fare was meatless.  And long before pizza became the ubiquitous American offering, we had our own take-out right at her kitchen door.  Who could resist?

She’d start the dough from scratch in the morning, its aroma as it rose perfuming the air.  By the time we got home from school, she was adding the toppings – usually tomatoes from her garden that she had lovingly “put up” back in September.  There were torn leaves of fresh oregano and basil, from the pots on her pantry windowsill, scattered lightly over the top. (She never chopped them with a knife, just tore them so they didn’t bruise.)  And a drizzle of olive oil, the one in the gold can, because it was the only brand available.  (I still use it today.)  Cheese  topping was rare.  Fresh mozzarella, she reasoned, should be eaten WITH the pizza not ON it; it was made to eat fresh, without heat.

But during the Lenten season, we were required to taste something else to go with her pizza.  Lentils.  Gosh, they looked awful.  But, we didn’t care, because, first we smelled them.  And the combination of garlic and tomatoes and olive oil was seductive.  And the texture was so soft and creamy.  True comfort food, warming the insides after the brisk walk home from school.

As we grew older, we brought friends home on Friday afternoons.  Her warm, colorful kitchen was open to everyone who wanted pizza.  And everyone did.  Lentils were just part of the atmosphere.  Sometimes, she changed it up.  Keeping the menu still meatless, she’d bake fresh bread – today’s trendy ciabatta, although she only called it pane, bread.  And ladle out bowls of small tubular pasta and chickpeas laced with those sunsoaked flavors – tomatoes and garlic and basil and olive oil.  And you’d be enticed by it.  Enthralled, enough to ask for seconds.

PASTA WITH CHICKPEAS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Makes 6 to 8 servings

Here, I’ve described my grandmother’s method of cooking this classic Southern Italian dish.  The garlic and onion are used and flavoring and removed.  One garlic clove is added for flavoring, and once again removed before serving.  This way the dish does not scream of garlic:  the aroma and flavor of garlic is supposed to be subtle, not overwhelming.

1/3 cup olive oil

1 thick slice onion

2 large cloves garlic, peeled

 

1 cup peeled, seeded, chopped fresh tomatoes or canned Italian plum tomatoes with their juice

salt, fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 large can chick peas, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup small tubular pasta

3 to 4 each fresh oregano and basil leaves, to taste

fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus some extra olive oil, to taste



  • Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic.  Saute gently until each turns golden, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the pot and reserve 1 clove of the garlic; discard the rest.


  • Turn the heat down to low; add tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cook until the liquid thickens somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes.


  • Add the chick peas and 1 cup hot water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add 1 clove of the reserved garlic to the pot.


  • While the chick peas cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta, about 1 minute short of the time given on the package directions.  Drain and stir into the pot with the chick peas and tomatoes mixture.  Stir in a few torn oregano and/or basil leaves.  Allow the soup to sit for about 5 minutes.  Remove the garlic cloves.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Ladle into warmed bowls and top with the cheese and a sprinkling of olive oil.




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