My bags sit empty, the cameras are not packed, and I have yet to secure the final book reading list. But before I head off to the Netherlands for a week I wanted to say a quick hello and goodbye. It didn’t seem right to keep these chickpeas from you any longer and I didn’t want you to worry if this space sits unattended while I’m skating along the canals, wondering quiet towns and tucking into cafes when the chill is no longer endearing.
I can’t say much about the trip now as I really have no idea what to expect. I will say that I am so excited I can hardly think straight. I am traveling with my grandparents and some aunts and uncles to my grandfather’s hometown. This will be the first time I’ve visited the place where my family began and to experience that with my grandparents is incredibly thrilling. I’ll meet many relatives, stock up on chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag), and take a quick detour to Belgium for chocolate, waffles, frites, and beer. I welcome any and all suggestions on what’s not to be missed.
In all my previous travel experiences my blond hair and blue eyes have been a glaring beacon to the fact that I’m not a local. In the Netherlands I am looking forward to feeling right at home. I’m eager to taste the food that raised my grandfather and my great-grandparents and enjoying it all in the presence of family.
For now there are chickpeas. Spicy ones at that. I’m on a quick meal kick as I’ve been frantically crossing things off the to do list and fitting in as many snuggles as the littles will allow in anticipation of this trip. With all the ingredients on hand this meal comes together in minutes but carries with it a hearty, warm spice thanks to harissa. Mine comes from Morocco but you can get your harissa at fine grocery stores or online. It’s a perfect healthy winter dinner but I imagine in the Summer I’ll see it again, chilled, in my picnic basket.
I’m looking forward to wandering unfamiliar streets and taking more photos than I know what to do with. Until then, I leave you with chickpeas.
Harissa Chickpeas with spinach
In anticipation of rich foods and unhealthy eating habits while traveling I’ve been stocking up on simple, healthy meals like this one. I imagine I’ll see a nice big bowl of this upon my return.
The amount of harissa is really personal preference so please feel free to adjust the amount I suggest.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons harissa paste (more is fine too)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh mint
2 cups fresh spinach
Add olive oil to to a medium saute pan, saute garlic until fragrant and golden, about two mintues. Add harissa and cook another minute. Stir in chickpeas and salt then simmer mixture for about 5 minutes – until any liquid has evaporated and chickpeas are tender. Turn off heat and toss in mint and spinach. Stir and let the residual heat wilt the spinach slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve immediately with a hefty scoop of greek yogurt.