When you’re gearing up for the launch of your first cookbook, and trying to work on two blogs while planning a book launch party, weekdays can get a bit hectic. Sit-down lunches start becoming a luxury. Heck, lunch becomes a luxury. Or at least, lunch that doesn’t involve grabbing a slice of pizza on the go.
Last week, after lecturing to myself that I really did need something healthier, I decided to whip up a batch of Provencal chickpea dip that could last for several days. And pair it with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and pita bread, everything that could be picked up quickly from the neighborhood market. This super easy recipe comes from Anne Willan’s wonderful and beautifully photographed The Country Cooking of France. Poischichade is a Provencal version of hummus and baba ganoush, and has an intense smoky flavor from the roasted red peppers and ground cumin.
For those of you who haven’t roasted a red pepper, it’s really quite simply. You basically hold it a few inches from an open flame on a gas stove for about 10 minutes, until it gets blacked and blistered all around. (Tongs are immensely helpful.) Then you just rinse it under cold water until it’s cool enough to handle, and rub away the skin with your fingers. The skin comes off like magic.
I’ve been making hummus for years, in various forms, but never had one that I simply wanted to keep eating by the spoonful, well past the point of fullness. (Have I mentioned before how much I love anything with cumin?) My friend Barb and I had a lunch date with a bowl of poischichade, pita, an eclectic assortment from the Union Market olive bar, and her delicious homemade pizza with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. It was sit-down and leisurely. And exactly what I needed at the end of a hectic week.
Provencal Chickpea Dip
Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer
- 1 large red bell pepper
- Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teapoon cayenne pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed
- Paprika for sprinking
- Roast and peel the pepper: Turn on a broiler or a gas stove burner. Roast the pepper about 3 inches from the heat, using tongs to turn the pepper all around, until the skin is blistered and black, about 10 minutes. Rinse the pepper under cold water for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Peel the blistered black skin off the pepper. Cut open the pepper to remove the core and seeds. Cut the flesh into large pieces
- In a food processor or heavy-duty blender, combine the pepper pieces, chickpeas, cumin, salt, cayenne, lemon juice, and oil. Purée until smooth, adding more oil if necessary to form a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.
- Transfer the chickpea dip to a bowl, sprinkle paprika on top, and serve with pita.
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