It’s still autumn, if you check the calendar, even though it seems like the weather is trying to skip ahead.
Most of the days in London now are gray and rainier than they were a few weeks ago, and I am finding it harder and harder to convince myself to go out for a run or take the long walk home… especially when it gets dark in mid-afternoon. But this does mean it’s time for wooly socks, bourbon cocktails and delicious orange vegetables. All at once if you can make it happen.
Long enough ago, I was at the supermarket and I was 100% convinced that I’d seen a recipe I wanted to try that included tahini. I do have a habit of stocking our pantry with ingredients for projects that don’t necessarily ever happen, but this time I thought I really had it. Well, apparently I didn’t, because it sat in the cupboard, until the first time I made this. The old recipe that asked for tahini? I guess it’s lost to the sands of time. But now I have tahini hanging around, and it’s … really good. It’s good with sweet potatoes and chick peas, it’s good with flatbread (reminds me a bit of peanut butter), and it goes a long way to making a mediocre store-bought hummus into what you imagine hummus should taste like.
I feel like I could probably write a love letter to tahini. But if you’re not in the mood to wander around the supermarket to find it… you can use Greek yogurt instead. It won’t be the same, but it will still be good.
The original recipe, from the New York Times Diner’s Journal, first popped up in my blog feed, a long time ago. They call it a salad, but I don’t really serve it like a salad. I think the vegetables should be hot, the spinach a tiny bit wilted, and the dressing should be made of tahini. Try it and see what you think!
On the Counter
1 can (15 oz or 400 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 lbs or 500 g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally, about 1/2 inch or 1.25 cm thick
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 oz or 150 g spinach, rinsed and torn (if not baby spinach)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
What to Do
Heat the oven to 400F or 200C.
Dry your chickpeas. Line a large baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels (kitchen roll). Spread the chickpeas out so they lay in one layer. Dry them with more paper towels. If you have the time, you can let them drain for an extra 10 minutes before starting. They should be as dry as possible for optimal crunch.
Toss sweet potato and carrots with 2 tsp olive oil,1 tsp kosher salt or 1/2 tsp table salt, thyme and a few grounds of black pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, until golden brown and soft.
Meanwhile, toss the chickpeas with 1 tsp olive oil, chili powder, cumin and 1/2 tsp table salt (slightly more if using kosher). Remove all the paper from the baking sheet, and spread the chickpeas out in one layer.
Roast the chickpeas, tossing occasionally, for 40 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Check them starting at 30 minutes to see if they are crispy enough. (This will depend on how dry they were when they went in.)
Mash the minced garlic with 1/2 tsp table salt, until it forms a paste, or something close to it. Mix with tahini, lemon juice and 2 tbsp water. Stir and test for consistency. If too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time.
When the roasting vegetables and chickpeas have 1 minute left, flash-steam the spinach for 30 seconds, until slightly wilted.
Combine the steamed spinach, roasted vegetables, chickpeas and shallots. Toss with the tahini dressing and serve.