Saturday, May 31, 2008

getting cultured

I mentioned in a comment on a previous post that yogurt is one of Monkey's favorite foods. She eats so much yogurt, in fact, that I think almost any food is starting to taste better to her with a little yogurt stirred in. She has it with fruit and oatmeal for breakfast, and more often than not with vegetables and rice or multigrain cereal for lunch and dinner.

For a while I didn't even realize that I was making all her meals on essentially the same template. But it's more or less how we eat--a vegetable, a grain, and a little dollop of dairy just seems like a balanced meal to me. It's funny to realize how early and how unconsciously one transmits one's food culture to a baby.

The Mr. and I have been eating a lot of yogurt lately, too--over carrots for dinner, on top of muesli for breakfast, in a brunch dish I haven't even told you about yet, and in the dish of sauteed zucchini and chickpeas pictured above.

And we're not alone.  The New York Times food section recently published a whole feature on yogurt. Over at 101 cookbooks, Heidi marinated tofu in yogurt and spices (we tried out that recipe, in fact, and it was tasty but also convinced me once and for all that even vegetarians need a grill); Luisa of The Wednesday Chef spooned it over fish and then rubbed it onto chicken. I don't know what's behind this sudden interest in yogurt from all quarters. Maybe that combination of heartiness and healthfulness makes a perfect spring tonic.

Zucchini and Chickpeas in Creamy Tahini Sauce

Adapted from kardemumma

1/4 C plain yogurt
2 T tahini
1 medium clove garlic, minced fine (next time I’ll use 2)
Ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
2 small zucchini (I’d use 3 next time, as a matter of fact)
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
A wedge of fresh lemon

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. If possible, put this in the refrigerator for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Slice the zucchini and saute in olive oil until the slices have a nice color (that’s kardemumma blogger Viktoria’s wording; isn’t it nice?). Add the chickpeas and heat through. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top.

Transfer the zucchini and chickpeas to a serving bowl, add the yogurt-tahini mixture, and stir to coat the zucchini and chickpeas with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 or 3 servings.


A crunchy carrot salad makes a nice companion for the creamy zucchini. The recipe below is adapted from The Ethnic Paris Cookbook, which, despite its unfortunate title, is an excellent book. In addition to recipes it contains reviews of restaurants, food shops, and markets, making it one in a long and growing list of food-related things that make me want to visit Paris again.

Carrot Salad with Fresh Citrus Juice

3 carrots, peeled (that is what the original recipe called for but I think they must have been working with some honkin' big carrots--next time I'll use more, maybe as many as 6)
Juice of 1/2 of a red grapefruit or 1 orange
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cumin
2 T toasted pine nuts

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl and stir together. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

Makes 2 servings.

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