I’ve been keeping a hungry eye on one particular plant in the corner of our veggie patch. It shot up quickly, its deep purple stems thickening and extending into large, violet-edged leaves. Crinkly, delicate mauve flowers opened with a shock of yellow stamen protruding from their centre, promising the arrival of my favourite nightshade – eggplant. The bulbous beauties have indeed developed, but are not quite ready for the picking. So when I saw a basket of oddly shaped organic eggplants at the market, I was happy that other plants could feed my craving.
On a late-summer evening many years ago, I followed my Lonely Planet guidebook down a tiny street in Nice, France to find somewhere to eat socca, a traditional chickpea pizza served on the shores of the Mediterranean. The street was lit by the warm light of a restaurant that vibrated with the happy noises of people enjoying excellent food. I joined them, and was promptly served a chilled glass of rosé and a large plate holding a pancake-like base topped with glossy tomatoes and olives.
It was my first taste of the earthy, peppery socca, and it was not my last. I returned to that restaurant the next night and on other trips and have since started making socca at home. I can’t replicate the soft mediterranean sun or the atmosphere of the old town, but this recipe is almost fool-proof and definitely brings a little bit of Nice into my kitchen. Continue reading →
A well worn cookbook is a map of taste. Flip through the pages and you’ll find the spine naturally giving way at favourite dishes, the recipes marked with notes or greasy fingers. It reveals the cooking history of it’s owner and holds memories in those oil splattered pages of shared meals and good times.
One of my most worn cookbooks is Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. It is a rich and colourful memoir that traverses the globe from Finland to South Africa via the Mediterranean to capture Kiros’ family recipes. If you let the pages of my copy fall open, they will land at Greece, and you’ll find the recipe for a chickpea salad.
This is a most satisfying salad. The chickpeas make it almost a meal in itself and the feta coats everything to make a salty, creamy dressing that comes to life with the citrus and herbs.