I’ve mentioned a few times that my husband is a chef. While this does mean that I eat very well, it also means that I am constantly pleading with him to stop buying cookbooks. We had to buy a huge IKEA bookshelf unit a month ago and it was immediately filled with all of the cookbooks that he had been
storing hoarding at work. Since I keep trying to make him stop buying more, he has slyly found a way to work around that. He now buys them as “gifts” for me.
This is why I got a copy of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas — which, yes, I admit, is fantastically fun. This is also why, when in passing I mentioned a blog post I had read regarding chef April Bloomfield, her cookbook A Girl and Her Pig showed up on our doorstep a week later.
I don’t even know why I was surprised.
Of course, I also admit I was a bit excited. I had made one of Bloomfield’s recipes before — her vinegar-braised chicken thighs — and it blew me away. It was some of the best braised chicken I have ever had. In fact, just thinking about it is making me hungry.
As I leafed through the pages of the book, each recipe looked more delicious than the last. So when my friend DB and I were hatching a plan to cook together, I immediately jumped at the chance to try out one of her dishes. Strangely enough, the one that popped into my mind first was a salad made with lentils and chickpeas. I only say strangely because I tend to eat so much meat that choosing to make a salad felt almost silly.
Oh well. It sounded amazing and Bloomfield mentioned that the flavors actually reminded her of eating lamb. A salad that tastes like meat? Win-win!
So Saturday afternoon, I grabbed the cookbook, a piece of Iberico pluma and headed to DB’s house. We need to now take a quick break so I can show you two reasons why I love cooking at his place:
* Now back to our scheduled programming…
A nice thing about this recipe* (*the recipe at the link is very similar to the one published in the book, but there are a few ingredients left out — after all no one will buy the cow if the milk is free, right?) is that it’s fairly inexpensive if you have a well-stocked pantry and fridge. The priciest items are the tahini (which DB had on hand) and the feta cheese. Everything else is easy and cheap to source — a red onion, some lemons, green lentils, canned chickpeas, garlic and some spices.
So let’s get started!
Once you have all of your delicious components prepped, it’s time for the good part — mixing them all together into one fabulous salad. And it really was fabulous! In fact, with the tahini, onions and feta and the texture of the hearty chickpeas, I totally understand why Bloomfield says this dish reminds her of eating lamb. Its Mediterranean flavors are prominent and they all work so well together that I kept eating long after I was full.
This salad would be great on its own, but also works beautifully with meat. Lamb, of course, would be a shoo-in, but grilled chicken, pork or beef would also be fantastic. We decided to cook up a piece of Iberico pork that I had on hand (have I mentioned I love my job?!). At around $25 a pound, this stuff is the best pork on the market. The pigs are raised in Spain and dine on acorns until they are hugely fat. The pork, which you can eat rare and even raw in a tartare, melts in your mouth. The pluma, which is the cut we ate, is the equivalent to the flank steak, a cut rarely seen in American pork.
It just needs salt and pepper, a quick sear and it’s perfectly cooked.
Look at how gorgeous our dinner turned out: