When I was a kid I was sometimes home alone for a few hours before my folks wrapped up at work. (Okay, now don't you go calling the Division of Family Services on my 'rents, this was a hundred years ago so the statute of limitations is probably up; and this was Utah, where we were put in charge of things like tractors and babies before most of us lost our milk teeth.) Anyway, I would often while away the time by cooking up things, anything, in the kitchen that wasn't nailed down. This often ended badly. When I did make the wise choice of cooking with a recipe, I'd make the rookie mistake of not reading the thing all the way through and discover three quarters of the way into a spinach souffle that I needed eggs.
I often called over to my neighbor Carol to see if she had what I needed. She had a splendidly outfitted pantry chock full of stuff that we never, ever had at our place: Miracle Whip, Chips Ahoy, Strawberry Quik. She'd hand over the eggs or the sugar or the butter wrapped in colored plastic wrap and tied with wrapping ribbon that she'd curled at the ends with a pair of scissors. This always blew my mind. I would thank her quickly and run back home to the boiling pot of whatever. If it hadn't cooked dry I'd proceed with my mad cooking adventure.
Now here's the part that I'm really sad about: not ONCE, that I can recall, did I ever, ever bring Carol a piece of what I'd made. No, I'm sure it wasn't edible but that's not the point, is it?? I slap my forehead when I think of what a little butt I was sometimes. OY! Poor Carol would have gracefully accepted what I'd made and fold it into a colorful paper napkin and disposed of it quietly. If I could go back in time I would make Carol a batch of brownies that would knock her house slippers off.
Fast forward a few years, my neighbor and I were chatting the other day in the warm spring sun. I mentioned that I teach at PCC Natural Markets. Her eyes got wide as she asked me if I had the recipes for the foods inside the PCC deli case. As much as I'd love to say that we do, indeed, get a secret dossier with all of the recipes, plus a secret handshake and a decoder ring when we become instructors, most of us who teach there don't actually know the recipes for the yummy deli case items. However, there are a few items in the case that I really love, and have tried my hand at reproducing. Here is my version of PCC Market's Turkish salad, which has luscious beans, figs and olives and completely thrills me every time I eat it.
Okay, okay, it's a stretch… but maybe I can undo the thoughtlessness of my early cooking years by passing over this reicpe to my new neighbor. Who isn't Carol, but is a sweet gal. While it's not wrapped in colored plastic and tied with ribbon, it's close enough. Afiyet olsun: bon appetit.
- 10 dried Black Mission or Calimyrna figs, stemmed and cut into quarters
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups chilled chickpeas, prepared with my basic recipe, or 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
- ¼-1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- ¼ or more cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fig, Garbanzo Bean and Olive Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
Heat wine in a shallow saucepan. When simmering, add figs and cover with a lid. Remove figs from wine after about 5-6 minutes of simmering. Blot well and set aside. Meanwhile, whisk together pomegranate paste, lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and black pepper.
Combine olives, onion and chickpeas. Add soaked figs and dressing, toss well. Add chopped parsley and toss again. Serve at room temperature.