Monday, October 7, 2013

The Farmer's Plate

We have a new system for selecting recipes to try. These days, we are getting most of our ideas from magazines. One or both of us will tear out a page that looks desirable and then eventually, maybe, we make it. My husband was the one to select this recipe and at first I was skeptical. It wasn't something I would have historically been drawn to except for the fact that I adore roasted cauliflower and recently discovered burrata cheese at State Bird Provisions on our California getaway last year. For whatever reason, I decided to indulge him and picked up all the ingredients for these recipes for our "company meal" this weekend. I try to have at least one company-worthy meal on the menu each week just in case. I know that sentence makes me sound either a) super popular b) a little snobby or c) much more organized than I truly am. It may sound good in theory to always plan a meal for company but usually we end up changing our minds or still needing to make a trip to the grocery store. But still it's nice to have a few things on hand for special dishes.

Anyhow, on Friday night, since we were not having a baby as planned, we invited over our good friends for a meal. We served The Farmer's Plate as our appetizer and I think it was by far the best dish of the night! I made a few changes to the recipe which I highlighted below. Neither of us are huge fans of tahini and so for the Chickpea Puree, rather than buying a whole tub for $3, using a tablespoon and then tossing the rest, I just skipped it and added a little lemon juice instead. My husband was the mastermind behind the Muhammara (which was so totally amazing, by the way, and would make an awesome romesco-type pasta sauce or sandwich spread). No one seemed to know what piquillo peppers were when I was shopping so I just used regular old jarred roasted red peppers and I don't think the recipe suffered. We served the dips with crusty bread slices, roasted cauliflower, red onions and carrots and the burrata. Though I was thrilled to find the burrata cheese at my local Trader Joe's, I must confess that regular fresh mozzarella probably would have been just as good, not to mention cheaper. YUM! We will definitely be making this appetizer again!
The Farmer's Plate
(adapted from Food and Wine Magazine)

Chickpea Puree:
2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon tahini (I omitted)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup walnuts
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Half of a 1/4-inch-thick slice of whole wheat bread
3/4 cup drained piquillo peppers (we used jarred red peppers)
1/2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (optional-we used regular molasses)
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces burrata cheese or buffalo mozzarella, cut into 6 equal pieces, for serving
Grilled peasant bread and roasted vegetables such as carrots, fennel and red onions,
for serving

To make the Chickpea Puree: In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, tahini (if using), lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and cumin until finely chopped. With the machine on, drizzle in the oil and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Wipe out the processor.

To make the Muhammara: Preheat the oven to 375°. Toast the walnuts in a pie plate for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool completely, then transfer the walnuts to the food processor.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the ground cumin over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Scrape the cumin into the processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the skillet. Add the bread and cook until golden and crisp on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Tear the bread into small pieces and add it to the processor. Add the piquillos, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the cayenne pepper. With the machine on, drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of
water and puree until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a bowl.

Serve the chickpea puree and the muhammara along with burrata, grilled
bread and roasted vegetables.

To make ahead: The chickpea puree and muhammara can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let both return to room temperature before serving.

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posted by kelsie