The New Staple

There comes a time in all of our lives that we eventually have to grow up and start fending for ourselves. Specifically, we have to feed ourselves; the days of coming home to mom and dad’s fresh-baked meatloaf, fried chicken, and steak n’ potatoes fade into the past, quickly becoming memories as opposed to everyday life.

For many of us, we have college as a “buffer” from the inevitable days of reality. We have the dining halls serving up lukewarm pizza, cereal in bins with pitchers of warm milk at the adjacent counter, and last but certainly not least – yesterday’s leftover fruit, usually a lot of honeydew melon and grapes. And let’s not forget the $.10 ‘oodles of noodles’ (chicken flavor! Oriental flavor!) that saved me from ordering Gumby’s pizza on many the occasion.

Eventually, the dining halls also fade into the background as we are forced to get “real jobs” and become part of a functioning society. Takeout still serves its purpose, but there becomes a point sometime after college that the pounds start to pack on a little more quickly, and walking from the dorm to lecture hall no longer constitutes the requirement of exercise. Oof.

Despite what some of you might believe, my time in the kitchen was not always spent with perma-grin. I was not “born to cook”, and I didn’t grow up begging to wash dishes, or wait impatiently in hopes of being allowed to add paprika to the deviled eggs at Thanksgiving. I didn’t even want to learn how to make my gramma’s pound cake – as long as she had one waiting for me every Sunday I was as happy as a pig in pooh.

But even so, I had a “go to” dish – spaghetti. I’d get home and quickly throw some noodles into a pot of boiling water, and I’d cook those noodles until they nearly fell apart (I didn’t have a freakin’ clue what al dente meant until probably 4 years ago). Usually, I’d have a jar of Newman’s Own marinara sauce in the pantry and I’d toss some into the microwave and dump it atop my pasta with a nice hefty shake or two of the Kraft “parmesan”. If I was feeling fancy, I’d put some red pepper flakes in the sauce, but otherwise that was it.

I’ll bet you have your go to dish as well. My problem, if you can call it a problem, is that I don’t have that go to recipe anymore. I make a dish once usually, twice if it’s really good and it’s posted here (which means I still have the recipe), and then I’m finished with it. I can’t seem to shake the habit, but maybe it’s just because I’ve never found a replacement for the spaghetti dish from years ago.

Until now. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for weeks (remember the curry meatballs?) – weeks! I never read through it, and I simply assumed it would take a long time and we haven’t had any nights where I had a long time to cook in the last month or so. But this past weekend, I picked up the book again and went straight to the page of this dish. It looked easy! It sounded amazing, as it always has, and I knew I’d be giving it a try. All I needed to do was procure some amchur (dried mango powder – duh) and I was set.

I promise you – it took me 30 minutes, and there is limited prep, limited chopping, and lots of goodness. Honestly, it tastes just as good as the restaurant versions. For serious. It’s gonna get made a whole helluva lot around here, now that I’ve realized these facts. And the only problem with this new plan? I’ll have to find another staple dish to order when we want Indian takeout, because I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to pay $10 for a dish I can make in 30 minutes, with 4 servings, for much less than that. Something tells me that isn’t much of a problem either, though.

 

Chana Masala
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cooking; serves 4 as a meal

time commitment: 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
3 T coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 t cumin seeds
1 large onion, diced
1/4 t g cinnamon
1/4 t g nutmeg
1/4 t g cloves
1 t g coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t grated ginger
4 T tomato paste
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cans chickpeas (save ~ 4-5 T of liquid)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon amchur*
1 c uncooked basmati rice
garlic naan, for serving
cilantro, for garnish

instructions
Heat coconut oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and once they begin to darken (will happen quickly), add onion. Saute until starting to brown (about 8 minutes).

Turn heat to low and add cinnamon through coriander. Mix together, then add garlic and ginger. Turn heat up a little and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes.

Add chickpeas and the saved liquid. Add salt, cayenne, and amchur. Mix well, cover, and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir gently every couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, cook basmati rice and warm garlic naan in the oven. Once chana masala is cooked, garlic with cilantro and serve atop some rice and with naan.

 

*amchur (or amchoor) is available at Indian markets and here. Jaffrey says you can sub in 1 T lemon juice if you can’t locate it.

A Total Moot Point

One of the things that I absolutely do not enjoy is replacing items I’ve already purchased. Especially items that aren’t exciting to purchase in the first place.

For instance, we are taking our first trip together since living in San Francisco (Chris has jet-set plenty on his own), and we remembered that we tossed out my old, bright orange suitcase. The one with the handle that got stuck nearly every time. The one that required frantic pushing on said handle in the aisle of the plane to get the dang thing to fit in the overhead bin. Yeah, that one. I haven’t missed it one bit – until we realized we needed 2 carry-ons for our trip down to Sedona next weekend. I suppose we could have paid a fee to check our bags, but after you pay that for a round-trip, you’ve almost bought yourself a new suitcase (in my case, you have bought yourself a new suitcase, because I was an Amazon.com rockstar and found the good ones on clearance – score!).

Also, an air mattress would fit into this category. We bought one of those a long time ago, probably 7 years ago when we moved to Chicago and lived in a 650 square foot high rise. I’m surprised we even had space on the floor for it… At some point, it managed to get punctured, and since then it’s had a slow, steady leak – meaning, the folks using it are sleeping on the ground when they wake up. Yeah, sucks for them. In addition, the battery-operated thing that blows up the mattresses was all sorts of corroded too, so the whole shebang got thrown out. No big deal, since we had an extra bedroom and pull-out couch at our last place. But now, we’re down to a pull-out couch, and have three guests coming in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, we get the pleasure of purchasing yet another air mattress. Fun times. Of course, it will come in handy plenty, especially with the Thanksgiving crew making their way out here in November (SO EXCITED!).

Of course, the routine replacement items qualify too – who likes buying toilet paper, sponges, and dish detergent?! The other day, we had to buy a batch of replacement brushes for our electric toothbrush – now that seems like a huge waste of 40 bucks. But, I guess we have clean teeth, and fresh breath, so there is that…

Last, but certainly not least, is my immersion blender. I’m not sure how, but the damn thing broke a month or so before I moved west. You’d think it could handle pureeing some soup every now and then, eh? But truthfully, who knows what I tried to puree – I could easily assume it was something best left to a blender. But blenders are so annoying when it comes to soup. You have to dirty up a blender, for one, and in addition, you have to dirty up an extra pot/bowl for the already-pureed soup, if you have to puree in batches, so as not to toss the pureed soup into the non-pureed soup. It’s annoying, at best. But as you can see, I’ve been a little stubborn on this one. It seems there are more fun things to buy than replacing something I’ve already paid for once (yea, cookbooks, hiking boots, new camera lenses, a juicer – you get the point, right?).

I am, however, willing to admit that some things are worth the trouble, even if I do grit my teeth the whole way through it, and even if I do miss my immersion blender to pieces. Sometimes, washing a few extra dishes is a total moot point altogether.

This soup is one of those things that’s worth the trouble. I mentioned it a few posts back, remember? It’s loaded with roasted tomatoes, a couple of fresh heirlooms for good measure, and a roasted red pepper, too. The red pepper adds that warm richness to the soup, and to top it all off, some roasted ham and chickpeas are used as garnish. You could easily make this a vegetarian soup if you wanted (although the roasted diced ham is sorta perfect) or you could sub in some bacon if that’s what you have on hand. The chickpeas add a nice little crunch to each bite, so do make sure they are roasted until they reach that slightly crunchy, but still chewy, point.

I promise you, if you don’t have an immersion blender, or if you did and can’t seem to bring yourself to buying another one, you’ll forget all about it in no time. Well, at least until it’s time to clean up.

Tomato Soup with Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from Cooking Light, August 2011; serves 4

time commitment: ~45 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1 red bell pepper
2 T sliced almonds
3 T olive oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, divided
1/4 c heavy whipping cream
1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 fresh heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t salt, divided
1/2 t red pepper flakes
2 oz thick-sliced deli style ham, finely chopped
1 (15.5-ounce) can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 c fresh flat-leaf parsley

instructions
Turn stovetop gas burner onto high heat and place bell pepper directly onto burner. Cook until black on all sides (2-3 minutes/side), place in a plastic bag, seal it, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. (If you have electric burners, you can instead roast a pepper under a broiler in the oven until blackened, but cut it first and remove the membranes, then lay it flat in the baking sheet.) Remove from bag and peel, discarding seeds and membranes.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place almonds in a saucepan over medium-high heat until toasted. Remove from saucepan, chop roughly, and set aside.

Heat 1 T oil in same saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute. Add cream and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Add paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes; simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mince remaining 3 garlic cloves and combine garlic, ham, and chickpeas in a roasting pan; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss. Roast at 450 for 15 minutes, stirring once.

Combine tomato mixture and bell pepper in a blender; puree. (If you have an immersion blender, this would work nicely; just chop the bell pepper roughly and toss it into the soup.)

Ladle the soup into each of 4 bowls; top evenly with chickpea mixture, parsley, and almonds.

A New Standby

I’ll admit one thing to you today, and that’s this: I like to plan.  You probably know this by now, if you’ve paid attention. You probably know that we’re pretty on the ball when it comes to vacations, like last year when we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway. We had most of the hotels booked, a few points of interest mapped out, and just enough free time reserved for last-minute stuff, too. That’s the crux of it: planning is great, but in doing so, you need flexibility, too, or else you just screw yourself. You don’t want to screw yourself.

[I just read through the PCH post. What a crazy coincidence that we now live near all of that. That vacation totally rocked, and now everyday life does too (not that it didn’t before…). Also! the area around my poison oak did flare up again a couple of weeks ago, as some strange reaction to sunburn. That’s gone now, but man, was it weird.]

We’re heading on a couple more trips this fall, though they aren’t quite as lavish as last year’s. First, we’re invading my in-laws’ road trip and spending some time with them in Sedona for a long weekend, at which point I’m sure we’ll do some hiking, sight-seeing, and if things go our way, some wine-tasting (um. obviously.). Then, we’ll head back to Chicago for my favorite ex-co-worker’s wedding (and many hopeful reunions!), and start a road trip from the Midwest to the Deep South, ending up in New Orleans for the weekend. If you have any recommendations for St. Louis, Memphis, or New Orleans, send them my way. There will be barbeque, I’m sure. Maybe some honky-tonks, too.

As you might imagine, I’m also a kitchen planner. I’d love to be the person who grocery shops for individual dishes, but I’m just not. I’d spend too much money that way, and I’d have way too little time to actually cook if I stopped at the g-store on the way home every night. That said, I plan 3-4 meals each week, buy the ingredients, and stock up on a few standby items, for the days that an hour in the kitchen seems like too long, either because I exercised for a change, or because I got stuck in traffic, or when Chris decides he wants to work late (he does love working late!) and roll in at 8:30.

This is one of my standbys. Well, now it is, seeing as how I’ve made it exactly twice in a month. This is also perfect for those of you sweating your faces off in other parts of the country that aren’t northern California – you turn on absolutely no heat source to get this dinner on the table. You need only a few staples – something to fill, like lavash bread, or a pita, or even tortillas, and you need something canned, preferably chickpeas, but other beans would work too. And finally, greens; I’d suggest something other than arugula, which is what I had, but you be the judge. The rest of the ingredients can come and go as you have them, a true testament to the standing-by nature of this dish.

It’s a pinch hitter, really. Meant entirely for the days you haven’t planned – the days you want to just wing it. And by wing it, I mean hit the ball outta the park without even trying. Standbys are good like that.

Chickpea Wraps
Adapted from Super, Natural, Every Day; serves 4

time commitment: 20 minutes

printable version

ingredients
2 15 oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 c shallots, small dice
1/2 c celery, small dice
2 T fresh dill, chopped
1 t Za’atar (optional, I still have some)
2 T Dijon mustard
1 c Greek yogurt
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 a lemon’s worth of zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
4 pieces of whole wheat lavash or 4 whole wheat pitas
2 c mixed greens (whatever you have)

instructions
pour half of chickpeas into a large bowl and mash with a potato masher (or fork) to break up a bit. add remaining chickpeas, shallots, celery, and dill.

in a small bowl, whisk together the za’atar (if using), mustard, yogurt, and salt. toss chickpeas with most of the mixture. add lemon zest and juice; taste and add more lemon juice if needed.

spread remaining yogurt onto/into the lavash/pita/whatever you’re using. add 1/4 of the mixed greens to each piece of lavash/pita/whatever, and top each with 1/4 of the chickpea mixture. fold into a wrap and devour. if using pita bread, just devour.

Redemption Song

{If you’re hoping for a recipe for the 4th, this probably isn’t it. But check here for a bunch of past summer recipe suggestions – there are plenty of things to be grilled, especially my favorite burgers!}

I’m not about to delve into my years as a young, semi-hell-raising teenager; on occasion, my mom reads this blog. But I’ll share a few tidbits.

In my family, I was the smart, oddly-dressed, middle child who, according to my sister, was never grounded and always got her way. Rightfully so, my senoir superlatives were as contrasting as apples and oranges: “most likely to be a millionaire” and “most retro”. Clearly, I failed to live up to the former, and in terms of the latter, I only occasionally wear polyester pants & platform shoes; in fact, the most retro I get these days is wearing a sleepytime t-shirt from the 90’s. And truthfully, I wasn’t grounded often. The key to avoiding such punishment is simple – don’t get your ass caught, sista.

I went through what you might call a hippie phase, and then a grunge phase, and then I couldn’t decide so I just went with both. Amidst the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin there was Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I rocked the “60’s retro-wear” on some days and my dad’s flannels and corduroy pants for the days I jammed to Jeremy and Porch. For a few months I shaved the back of my head and I still can’t figure out the point in that. Somewhere, Bob Marley fit into these crazy years too, but fortunately for me (and others) I never had the desire to abandon hygiene and “grow” dreadlocks. There’s still time for that…

I like to think that my musical choices haven’t changed, but have instead broadened. I still break out the grunge rock somewhat regularly, but less often do I find myself singing Sugar Magnolia or breezing through Songs of Freedom. I’m not sure I’d use the term evolve here, in fact I know I wouldn’t, because that implies a sense of improvement and lemme tell ya, you can’t improve upon that stuff. In fact right now I just changed my Pandora station to reggae. What the hell.

Now for the transition you’ve all been waiting for: in contrast to music, food choices do evolve, or mature. Remember the tomato story? Exactly. And sometimes you really get smacked in the face, front-on, by something you thought you hated, despised even, but then months later you realize how nutty you were, how naive, or maybe quite simply how horribly this certain ingredient was prepared.

This dish here is a perfect represention of food evolution, or redemption. The first time I made quinoa, I almost spit it out because it “felt weird”. Then I learned how to cook it. And remember my diatribe about escarole? Well, ignore it. When I pulled it out of the CSA box last week, I stared at it, wondering how many sleepless hours I’d endure if I just casually tossed it in the garbage. The answer? too many, because food costs good money and wasting it is lame. So I sucked it up and found a good hot preparation for some of it that was reasonably yummy (and not overly bitter), and then used the rest of it in the recipe below instead of the suggested spinach. Maybe I got a bad batch before, or maybe this batch from a local, organic farm was just better. Either way, both quinoa and escarole have redeemed themselves.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, I have leftovers to eat and jammin’ to do.

Quinoa, Bean, & Escarole Salad w/ Smoked Paprika Dressing
Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2010; serves 6-8

ingredients
1 1/2 c red quinoa (regular works too), rinsed & drained
4 c chopped escarole or other bitter green
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed (or dried, cooked beans)
1 can white beans, drained & rinsed (or dried, cooked beans)
1/2 unpeeled English cucumber, halved and sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 T fresh oregano, chopped
3 T fresh basil, chopped
1 c crumbled feta cheese (~5 oz)
1/4 c Sherry wine vinegar
1 T sweet smoked paprika
1/2 c olive oil
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

instructions
place quinoa in large saucepan and add water until quinoa is covered by 1 inch. bring to boil and reduce heat; simmer on med-low for 15 minutes. drain, if needed and let cool completely (toss out on sheetpan and refrigerate if needed).

combine lettuce, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and feta in an extra-large bowl. add cooled quinoa and toss gently.

in a small bowl, whisk vinegar and paprika together. slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly until incorporated. season with salt and pepper. pour over salad and mix. add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Castles Made of Sand

I had a free flight courtesy of my friends at Southwest, and my 8 roundtrips within the last 2 years. It expired in April, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to let things that are “free” go to waste. Hubs had 1/2 of a free flight (i.e., a “one way”) as a result of his perseverence during “Free Flight Blackout” over Christmas, insisting that they had to let him use at least part of his round trip gratis fare. While San Diego was our first choice, as it turns out, it was many others’ first choice and so we took a risk, and instead took a maiden voyage northwest – to the home of Grunge.

I’d never been to Seattle, hence the “maiden voyage” connotation, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. A disadvantage in living in such an awesome city as Chicago is that, at least in my experience with U.S. travel, it’s hard to find a city that’s remotely comparable. Nonetheless, we proceeded with an open mind that was only somewhat inundated with fear of rain.

Needless to say, I fell in love with another West Coast city. What does that mean?

Here are our chosen points of interest:

Woodinville. Take a day, rent a car, and get thee to the wineries. As my friend Todd said, I apparently don’t go anywhere if I can’t find a winery within an hour. I think he’s right. We didn’t load up like we did in Napa, but most importantly we started our trip off right :). Word on the street is that there are quite a few wine regions in the area, but we went for the close one. The tasty rosemary and sea salt flatbread below with the cozy fireplace? Columbia Valley.

Cafe Juanita, Kirkland. Anybody watch “The Next Iron Chef”? Chef Holly Smith, of Cafe Juanita, was an early loser but you wouldn’t know from the Northern Italian fare she puts out here. The octopus you see below isn’t from there, but from Chez Wetzel instead, and serves as my attempt at a recreation of her dish. I had the cutest little pasta dish, rabbit agnolotti, and could have cared less that we didn’t even get to eat until 9.

Pike Place Market. Flying fish? Fiddleheads? Locally made honey? Ten thousand types of pasta? I think I’ve made my point. Although I’m certain Hubs’ interest was quickly fading after the first 10 vegetable stands, I could have wandered for hours.

Theo Chocolate Factory. A factory – full of organic free-trade chocolate? Come to mama. I fell for the chai and coconut curry bars, but if those don’t suit your fancy they had about 20 other flavors, all with free samples. We didn’t even need that damn tour that sold out a week before we got there. Hmmmmph.

Poppy. We thought long and hard about going to Herb Farm but decided that spending 500 bucks on dinner was not in our best interests. That said, the owner of Poppy used to be the executive chef of Herb Farm and left a few years ago to open Poppy. Plus, this guy, he’s gonna be on Top Chef Masters, which was reason enough for me to check it out. The dishes, called ‘thali’, are Indian-style dishes with multiple small courses served all at once. And with naan. You can’t go wrong with naan, and you can’t go wrong when it’s 32 buckaroos for all of it. Although if you ask Hubs, he will swear the oysters he got for his appetizer did him in the next day, as he’s now proclaimed Jerry Traunfeld as Top Chef Masters’ “villain”.

Capitol Hill. Our B&B was up in this neighborhood, and it was the perfect distance from downtown, absolutely gorgeous, and owned by one ‘bear’ of a guy. The last person I’d ever expect to be running a B&B; I’d picture him chopping wood, donned in flannel, but nonetheless, he was awesome and we really hit it off. If you’re ever up in that area and in the mood for pizza, try Palermos, which I ended up ordering for take-out when Hubs was busy eating Walgreens’ version of Saltines.

Pioneer Square. Thanks to men being the weaker species :), I found myself wandering around sans Hubs for an afternoon, and landed in this little gem of a neighborhood, which I liken to Chicago’s Printer’s Row. It’s one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, and filled with historic buildings, tiny parks, and quaint shops. Also, Vietnamese sandwich shops.

Fonte. Another place I visited by my lonesome. Good wine flights and bruschetta, and a perfect downtown spot to read a book. Grab some coffee while you’re there, or get your beans packed up for home.

Seattle Public Library, Central Branch. One of the more modern buildings in the downtown area, with bright yellow escalators, tons of books (is that obvious?), and city views that aren’t half bad either.

Clearly, there is plenty to do in Seattle, and you could easily fill a weekend or even a week. But, before you venture to the good ol’ Northwest, a few words of advice:

If you have bad knees, please do take advantage of the bus system. Those hills are a doozy, and 1 mile really does take 20 minutes. Plus, the public transit rocks (meaning – it’s clean, it’s cheap, and it’s always on time).

Watch out for dreadlocks. There is no telling what’s under there, and you’ll see lots and lots of dreadlocks. Which I generally like, but this guy sorta scared me.

Also watch out for narcissistic doggies at the market. They lay in their cuddliness, collecting affection from passersby with ease. They can’t be trusted.

There are uncensored graphics at Starbucks. Starbucks??!! You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing boobies.

Speaking of coffee, drink loads of it because it’s damn tasty. Wear a coat with a tie so you can “double fist” but keep a hand free.

Don’t go up the Space Needle. It’s sorta lame, especially if you’ve taken the (free) trip up Chicago’s Hancock Tower, which has a much more awesome view. Plus, it’s super windy up there and the view from the bottom is way better.

Go alone. Your Hubs (or Wifey) will probably get sick from who knows what and have to stay in bed all day at some point during your trip. Just kidding, of course, but wandering the city alone was sorta fun, although copilots are always better. So if you are traveling solo, it’s totally doable.

Do not look for Jimi Hendrix’s statue. It isn’t there , and an empty spot with a wire sticking out is sorta lame. Although, I did some more research, and word on the street is that it is there and I missed it. Damn google maps for betraying me!

Do go on a hunt for a frequent Pearl Jam rehearsal spot behind the alley of the Crocodile Cafe. With Seattle being practically solely responsible for the birth of Grunge Rock, you’d do the city a disservice if you didn’t find something representative of that era. Plus, it is a cool door, eh? Even if you do have to wander in an alley to find it.

Try fiddleheads. They’re delightfully crunchy.

And go to Cafe Juanita and get the grilled octopus dish, or if all else fails, try this one at home.

Braised, Grilled Octopus with Fennel, Green Sauce, and Chickpea Puree
Inspired by Cafe Juanita; serves 2 as an appetizer

printable version

ingredients
1 small octopus (~1/2 lb); head removed
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 c red wine (I used an Italian blend)
1 c red wine vinegar
a few sprigs of thyme
1 clove garlic
1 handful of fresh parsley
1 T capers, drained
1 green onion
1/4 t red pepper flakes
fresh lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2-3 T milk or cream
fennel bulb (as much as you want), thinly shaved

instructions
octopus
preheat oven to 325 F. place trimmed octopus in medium pot and sprinkle with salt and a little pepper. pour red wine and red wine vinegar over and add thyme and garlic. cover and place in oven for about 30 minutes, until octopus is soft and tender, but not chewy. remove from liquid.

green sauce
meanwhile, in a mini processor, add parsley, capers, green onion, pepper flakes, and pulse. slowly pour in olive oil until a coarsely pureed. add 1/2 lemon’s worth of juice and season with salt and pepper. pour into small bowl.

chickpea puree
in the same processor (rinsed), add chickpeas and milk. puree until smooth, adding more milk if needed. season with salt and pepper.

putting it together
light a grill pan over med-hi and brush with oil. grill about 2 minutes on each side.

place half of green sauce on bottom of plate. top with half of chickpea puree, and top with half of octopus. gently toss fennel shavings in a little oil and the other half of the lemon’s juice and place atop octopus.