Have I mentioned lately that there’s a decided lack of air-conditioning in my apartment? We do have two less-than-effective box fans that, until the heat and humidity rolled in this week, had proven sufficient for this strange summer’s rain and cooler temperatures, but even with those factors working in my favor, I haven’t been able to bring myself to turn on the stove for more than a few minutes at a time.
I recognize that this hardly resembles a unique position, given that it’s August and all, but Gourmet’s editors seem to be right there with me. The current issue’s last page is devoted to no-cook pasta sauces; I immediately added one based around garbanzo beans to my list of recipes to try. It took about twenty minutes to throw the whole thing together, and, while it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, it was good enough that, with a few alterations, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a quick and easy summertime meal.
The “sauce” is basically a take on hummus (pureed chickpeas, olive oil, and lemon juice), but it veers away from familiar territory with the spices used. Allspice, not normally something I’d think of for pasta, mingles with healthy doses of black pepper, cumin, and coriander; a touch of cinnamon and sugar adds a hint of sweetness, while chopped herbs—parsley and cilantro—and a squeeze of lemon offer both a fresh note and a necessary counterpoint to the aromatics.
My tweaks: I’m not a fan of penne, so I used rotini instead; really, any noodle with enough crevices to allow the sauce to cling would work well. I’d also recommend grinding the spices before pureeing them with the chickpeas—the recipe directs you to blend all of those ingredients together at the same time, and I wound up spitting out quite a few still-whole peppercorns as a result. Also, I found that the dish needed twice as much lemon as called for, but it was still missing something after I added extra; a spoonful or two of capers and the tiniest bit of pepper sauce did the trick nicely.
I was moderately pleased when I tasted the pasta right after stirring the ingredients together, but when I went back for another helping a few hours later, I was happy to discover how much better it tasted cold, straight from the fridge. In my book, that’s the definition of a good summer dish: one that, despite the heat, doesn’t keep me out of the kitchen.
Spiced Chickpea Sauce
From Gourmet, August 2009
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 black peppercorns
3 whole allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Accompaniment: 1 pound penne, cooked and drained, reserving 1 cup cooking water; lemon wedges
1. Purée half of chickpeas with oil, spices, oregano, sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until almost smooth.
2. Transfer purée to a large bowl and stir in remaining chickpeas, onion, and herbs.
3. Toss hot penne with sauce. Thin with some of cooking water.