Chickpeas in Coconut Milk; or, Turmeric for Dummies

chickpeas in coconut milk

If there’s one food people should eat more of, it’s turmeric.

It’s one of those “aw geez how can this be so good for me” kinda foods.  It’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and there’s research going on to study turmeric’s effects on loads of diseases, like: Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart trouble, digestive problems, liver disease, and (most interestingly to me) cancer of all sorts.


onion before

onion before

See, my sister and I are the next links in a maternal chain of breast cancer (three generations running! go team!), and I’d really rather avoid having to deal with that.  Sure, treatments have improved hugely between my grandmother’s first mastectomy and her second (forty-ish years apart), but holy crap does it still suck.

onion after

onion after

In pursuit of dodging that bullet, I’ve adopted a few habits, including pitching a little curry powder into my usual weird-ass lunch of brown rice, edamame, miso, gochugaru, and nori.  It’s not any kind of guarantee, but I’m so convinced of turmeric’s efficacy that I try to eat it more days than not.


Look, I’m not here to preach at you, or tell you how to live your life.  We’re all just here for the food.

I’m just saying it wouldn’t hurt to eat some turmeric now and again.

spicy onion

spicy onion

Obviously there’s no point eating something unless it tastes good.  Lucky for us, turmeric tastes awesome.  It’s a little bit like saffron, but it’s earthy where saffron is floral.

chickpeas in coconut milk

look at it go

And if you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t like curry?  You can add turmeric into any number of dishes, like deviled eggs or chicken pot pie.  But it’s impossible to sneak.  Turmeric will stain the crap out of things.  Fair warning.

weird herbs

spicy globe basil

One of the simplest dishes involving turmeric I know of is Chickpeas in Coconut Milk, from an early Dinosaur Comics.  (If you aren’t familiar with DC, get to reading.  You’ve got over 10 years of awesome to catch up on.)  As far as I know, it’s the only recipe on the site???

chickpeas in coconut milk

The original recipe is very simple: combine everything in a pan and cook it.  You can certainly do it that way.  Me, I like to build flavor.  Sauté the onions until they get a little color.  Bloom the spices in the oil.  Add some herbs.


Bonus: this dish isn’t so outrageously foreign that you have to make a special trip to the local International Specialty Market.  Other than the turmeric, you can find everything in your local grocery.

chickpeas in coconut milk

So there’s one way to get more turmeric into your life.  Easy, fast, delicious, healthy.  You’re out of excuses.

never forget

don’t forget the hipster ketchup

Chickpeas in Coconut Milk

Yield: 2-3 servings

Chickpeas in Coconut Milk

Adapted from Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics

I'ma say it again: turmeric stains. Don't drop this on the couch. Don't wear white while eating this. Don't use white plastic utensils to prepare this, and don't store this in anything plastic, unless you really like yellow plastic.

And hey, if you leave out the fish sauce, did y'all notice this recipe is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free? Of course you did.


  • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored vegetable oil (or other fat of choice)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cans chickpeas (15.5 oz each, or about 4 cups), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can coconut milk, well-shaken
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional, to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herbs (such as cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, or a combination)
  • Salt & black pepper, as needed
  • Cooked rice or couscous, to serve


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion has softened and begun to brown.

3. Add the garlic, turmeric, cloves, cayenne, and a grind or two of black pepper. Stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste.

4. Add the chickpeas and a scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pour in the coconut milk. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. If it thickens too much, add a little water to thin.

5. Stir in the fish sauce, if using, and the herbs. Taste, and correct seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve at once over rice or couscous.



The Trick to Awesome Lentils; or, Two Reasons I Keep Cooked Lentils in the Fridge and You Should Too

awesome lentils

Y’all all need to start keeping cooked lentils in the fridge.  Why?  Two reasons:

1. Dinner

2. Fast

I’m referring to firm lentils, like beluga or du Puy.  Brown lentils are too mushy for this, and red lentils are right out.  Save those for soup.

Lentils aren’t really a thing people get excited about, so I know you’re dismissing my advice right about now.  It’s okay.  I mean, if that’s how you want to live your life.

But lentils are kitchen heroes.  They can be a side dish.  They can be the main event.  Hell, put ‘em in a food processor with a can of chickpeas and some tahini (and whatever else).  Lentil hummus!  You can have that idea.  That one’s free.

awesome lentils

they’re under there

Aside from being cheap, lentils are ridiculously easy to make.  Can you make pasta?  You can make lentils.  Same process, but about 18-25 minutes cook time, depending on how fresh they are.  Make a big ol’ batch.  It’ll take about 10 active minutes of your life, including the washing up.

If you have cooked lentils in the fridge (or freezer), you’re never at a loss for a fast, healthy meal.  They’re not leftovers.  They’re an ingredient.  They’re an ingredient you were smart enough to make in advance.  Look at you being all smart.

That’s nice.  But y’all just want the trick to Awesome Lentils.

awesome lentils

The trick to Awesome Lentils is to toss them with some sort of dressing while they’re still hot.  They soak it up like sponges.  They turn awesome.  A basic dressing would involve a clove of garlic microplaned into a big bowl, a healthy pour of olive oil, and half a lemon squeezed in.  Salt and pepper.  Add hot lentils.  Stir.  Profit.

If you want to get fancy (you do), add a ground spice.  Cumin goes with damn near anything.  Mustard is zesty.  Allspice is okay if you’re serving the lentils with pork, but probably no other time.  Don’t be afraid to get intense with the flavors; lentils can handle it.

That’s the basic plan.  From there, you are only limited by however boring your imagination is.

awesome lentils

If you’re serving them as a side dish, you can add some sautéed onion and chopped parsley.  If you want to practice your knife skills, cut some mirepoix into fine dice, sauté it in butter, and toss some lentils in at the last minute.  Serve next to your favorite roasted chicken part, or whatever.

If you’re serving them as an entrée, make it a salad.  Add chopped vegetables and a ton of herbs, maybe some cheese, maybe some chopped-up meat.  Serve over quinoa or rice, or don’t.

Put a fried egg on ‘em.

Here, I’ve served one of my all-time favorite salads on top of some Awesome Lentils: Molly Wizenberg’s Roasted Radicchio with Anchovy Vinaigrette and Preserved Lemon.  It’s like a really sophisticated warm Caesar salad.  That vinaigrette is ridiculous (and was used to make those particular Awesome Lentils).

awesome lentils

awesome lentils topped by awesome roasted radicchio salad

The other dish pictured is a house specialty called Leftover Surprise.  It’s all the compatible leftovers heated up in a pan together.  This one involved Awesome Lentils, brown rice, couscous, celery, green onions, parsley, and a quick tahini-lemon sauce (meaning I poured some tahini in the pan and squeezed some lemon juice in).

awesome lentils

awesome lentils with a bunch of other stuff

Okay guys if I’m honest, I don’t always have cooked lentils in my fridge.  I should.  When I don’t, come dinner time, I often find myself standing in front of the fridge wondering what the hell I can cobble together out of whatever’s in there.  This is never the case when Awesome Lentils are on the scene.  You’ve been advised.

Awesome Lentils

1 pound of lentils is about 2 cups, and will make 4-6 main servings, or maybe 8 side dish servings. This, of course, all depends on what you do with them. This recipe will work no matter how many lentils you have.

When making lentils, I don't measure anything, mostly because I get lentils from the bulk bins at a Certain Upscale Grocery Store (it is Whole Foods). Sometimes I get fancy and add some chicken stock to the cooking liquid. I always add a bay leaf or two, but it's not mandatory.

The dressing is important, but it doesn't particularly matter what goes in it. The simplest thing is plain ol' olive oil and lemon juice (emulsification is not necessary). Microplaned or pressed garlic cloves are excellent here. Get fancy, or keep it simple. Please do not use a purchased salad dressing, unless you think it is the most incredible salad dressing you've ever had and probably god made it and also it cures cancer.


  • Firm lentils (such as beluga or du Puy)
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional: bay leaf, chicken or vegetable stock
  • Flavorful dressing of choice (involving some sort of fat and some sort of acid, like olive oil and lemon juice)


1. Rinse the lentils, and check for any stones. It can happen!

2. Put the lentils in a pot, and add enough water to cover by two inches. Add salt, about 1 teaspoon for every cup of lentils, and bay leaf, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. When the liquid boils, set a timer for 18 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, or however low it takes to maintain a brisk simmer.

4. While the lentils cook, get out a large bowl. Make the dressing in this bowl.

5. When the timer goes off, taste to see how done the lentils are. If they need more time, give them 3 to 5 more minutes.

6. Remove the cooked lentils from the heat. Drain well, and immediately dump them into the bowl with the dressing. Toss, and let stand for a few minutes to soak up all the lovely dressing. Eat as is, or jazz them up in one of a million different ways. Awesome!

Park Sammiches

park sammiches

It’s still Summer!  I don’t know why, but this year, I’ve been expecting the balmy weather to give out aaaaaany minute now.

But enough about that.  I made sandwiches, designed especially for eating in a park.

park sammiches

a park

The main ingredients: some quality meat, some bitchin’ mustard, and arugula.

Left the bread untoasted, because good crusty bread is difficult enough in a sandwich without turning the crust into jagged shards that destroy the roof of your mouth.

park sammiches

I happened to be out of mayonnaise, so I used butter instead.  It’s a British thing.  Still feels kinda weird.

park sammiches

YES you need a fat-based moisture barrier and NO i don’t care if you hate mayonnaise or butter

The order of things in a sandwich is crucial to me.  Vegetables never go under meat.  Meat is the anchor.  Cheese goes in between.

park sammiches

anchor cappocolla

However, in the case of this arugula, I had to put one layer of meat on top to hold it onto the sandwich.  This almost killed me.

park sammiches

park sammiches

no no no no NO NO NO

At picnics, the squished-to-death sandwich at the bottom is always the best.  Wrap your sandwiches well, and press them.  Let them rest under a heavy cutting board for a bit.  Squeeze them.  Step on them.  Whatever it takes.

park sammiches

Remember that quality bread (like this) will resist being squished.  Less-ideal bread will give up the ghost almost immediately.

park sammiches


In a perfect world, I would’ve also put a li’l olive salad on this sandwich, ersatz muffaletta style.  It is not a perfect world, and it was getting dark.

Still, it was just right.

park sammiches



Park Sammiches

Yield: Sandwich

Oh my god, do you really think I'm giving you a recipe for sandwiches? You do not need a recipe for sandwiches.


  • Bread
  • Sandwich filling


1. Put the sandwich filling on the bread.

2. Sandwich!

Five Minute Photo Shoot: Some Boring Salmon with Maybe the Best Carrots Ever

salmon 'n' carrots

For dinner: coho salmon with oregano pesto breadcrumbs that aren’t browned enough.  Boring.  Alongside: Ottolenghi’s Spicy Carrot Salad, with couscous mixed in (regular and Israeli, because Ottolenghi).

I finally broke down and bought myself Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book, Jerusalem.  I got all starry-eyed over the first recipe I looked at: a recipe in the way, way back of the book, with all the other weird sub-recipes you need to make half the items in the book.

It’s a spice paste called pilpelchuma, and involves a quarter cup each (each!) of cayenne and paprika, along with 20 cloves of garlic.  Y’all, it is intense.

salmon 'n' carrots

This Spicy Carrot Salad uses a single tablespoon of this spice paste.  (Someone posted the recipe here, which uses the suggested double amount of harissa instead of pilpelchuma.)  With the couscous, I got about 7 servings out of that salad, and the spice level was not messing around.  From one tablespoon.  You will see more of pilpelchuma.

Five Minute Photo Shoot: Bahn Mi

Lunch today: a bahn mi with pork and pâté, from a local place.

bahn mi

Enjoyable, but just okay.  Not the best bahn mi ever.  But I don’t think there exists such a thing as a bad bahn mi.

bahn mi

Hipster ketchup on the side.

bahn mi

Five Minute Photo Shoot: Arugula + Cherries, Peas + Orzo

Two recent dishes: first, a little salad of arugula, fresh cherries, and some fancy-pants blue cheese.  Lots of black pepper.  Looks like I served it with some soup or whatever.

arugula salad with cherries and blue cheese

Such a lazy salad.  I couldn’t be bothered to pit the cherries, so I went full-lazy and left the stems on too.

arugula salad with cherries and blue cheese

Second, orzo with peas, cooked mostly in the style of Frank Restaurant’s Spaghetti Limone.  Thing is, I had some action left over from cooking chicken recently, in the form of chicken drippings (schmaltz and jus, mind) infused with fresh herbs.

So I went ahead and used that instead of the cold butter indicated in the recipe.  Added some grated Parmesan too, just before stirring, for an extra-luxe sauce.  Toasty breadcrumbs on top because crunchy is the best texture.

orzo limone with peas and breadcrumbs

Five Minute Photo Shoot: Noodle Times

Two recent noodle dishes, very dissimilar in character:

First, some Sesame Noodles with Chili and Scallion.  This is one of my new favorite recipes.  I added peas because, hey, peas.  Also appearing are soba noodles, because soba + sesame = luuurve.

sesame noodles with chili and scallions

I’ve made this with shrimp added to the mix which is also luuurvely.

sesame noodles with chili and scallions

Next up: Linguine Limone.

linguine summut

This dish could not be simpler.  And oh my goodness is it fantastic.

I added a small mountain of parsley and pecorino romano on top.  Totally unnecessary, but totally awesome all the same.

linguine summut

Campari + Sweet Vermouth + Booze = Love

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Name two under-appreciated spirits in the American home bar.  Did you say Campari and sweet vermouth?  You get a gold star.

Sure, everyone’s got the sweet vermouth banging around somewhere, because we all need a Manhattan now and then.  But chances are it gathers cobwebs while you’re off drinking other things.  Enter Campari.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Let’s talk about Campari for a hot minute.

To the unaccustomed palate, it tastes primarily of cough syrup and ire.  But after acclimation, the subtleties creep up.  Bitterness and complexity.  Orange.  Grapefruit.  Herbal notes.  Suggestions of berries and stone fruit.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Once you develop a taste for it, you’ll never be without a bottle.  You’ll be surprised how often you reach for it, too.  As a digestif, there’s nothing like a Campari and soda to set you right.

[Edit: YES I know Campari is technically an aperitif and technically so are Campari-based cocktails but y'all it's just a drink and I like it very much as a digestif.]

Lately, I’ve been mixing one of these two drinks almost exclusively: the Negroni and the Boulevardier.  They’re pretty much the same thing, with one difference:

Campari + sweet vermouth + gin = Negroni

Campari + sweet vermouth + Bourbon = Boulevardier

They are, naturally, rather similar in taste.  The Negroni is more crisp and cool.  The Boulevardier is warmer and richer.  Both are sophisticated and well-balanced when made well.  It tastes like being an adult.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

You can use rye instead of Bourbon in the Boulevardier, which is also nice.  It makes the drink a touch less sweet.  (N.B.: Lest you think all this talk of “sweet” things implicates that it is a saccharine drink here, remember that Campari is as bitter as my cold, dead heart.  These are never a sweet drink.)

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

i started with these li’l glasses which are cute but were never going to work

If you are actually insane and not a fan of gin, Bourbon, or rye, feel free to mix either of the unfortunately-named variations: Agavoni (with tequila) or Negronski (with vodka).  I have never tried these and have no plans to.  Proceed at your own risk.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

much better

Classically, the Negroni is mixed with equal parts of everything.  But so is the Martini, and only sadists make them that way.  I prefer a more booze-forward approach here: 1 part Campari + 1 part sweet vermouth + 2 parts gin (or 1.5 parts, depending on mood).

I strongly suggest measuring carefully.  Proportions are important.  Mix the drink with too much Campari once, and you’ll never try it again.  I happen to own a lovely little shot glass with handy jigger-based measurements on the side.  I love this shot glass.  Making cocktails is so easy with it.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

I reckon you’re supposed to make drinks like this in a shaker, then strain out the half-melted ice.  But I never do that.  If you stir everything up in the glass you drink it from, that’s one less thing to clean.  I’m looking out for you.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Besides, I like the half-melted ice.  It makes a satisfying noise in the glass.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

I’ve taken to adding a splash of sparkling water at the end, just before drinking.  It lightens the drink and opens the flavors.  Makes things not so boozy.

As for garnish, I usually skip it.  One is supposed to add an orange twist, but I never keep oranges around.  A lemon twist is weird and unnecessary in this instance.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

One word to the wise: cap your bottles when you’re done pouring.  Cap.  Your.  Bottles.  About five seconds after taking the above picture, my living room rug was being soaked in a waterfall of sweet vermouth, Campari, gin, and Bourbon (the Woodford, too!) after the backdrop I was using knocked them all over.  Lamentations were wailed.

Good thing there was a drink already made.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Negroni, My Way (and Boulevardier Variant)

Yield: 1 cocktail

Negroni, My Way (and Boulevardier Variant)

The type of glass is important here, as it usually is with cocktails. This is a no-bullshit cocktail, and it requires a no-bullshit glass. The ideal glass is something with a thin lip and a heavy bottom. Wide and short is better than tall and thin. Something solid and masculine.

Unless you have some darling little coupes, and then you should use those.


  • 2 parts gin (1 jigger, or 1.5 ounces)
  • 1 part sweet vermouth (1/2 jigger, or 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 part Campari (1/2 jigger, or 3/4 ounce)
  • Ice
  • Sparkling water


1. Pour the gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari into a heavy-bottomed glass.

2. Add a handful of ice, enough to almost fill the glass, but not crowd the booze or stick up above it.

3. Stir for at least 30 seconds. Count it out or watch the clock. Patience is a virtue. The ice should mostly melt.

4. Top off the drink with a quick pour of sparkling water.

5. Drink slowly over the course of an hour or so, ideally after dinner.


Boulevardier Variant:

Use Bourbon or rye whiskey instead of the gin. Proceed as directed.

FIve Minute Photo Shoot: Deviled Avocado Pasta, Take Two

Remember the Deviled Avocado Pasta I made last year with some extra deviled egg yolks?  Because I sure do.  It looked a little something like this:

deviled avocado pasta

Last year, it was more green.  I do not know why.

This year, I made it twice; one time with soba noodles instead of traditional pasta.  So freakin’ good.

deviled avocado pasta

Ohhh yes.

Recipe is here, if you like.

Five Minute Photo Shoot: All Seafood, All The Time

Two recent dinners: linguine and smoked salmon in an ersatz alla vodka sauce.  I didn’t have onions or fish stock, but I did have the dregs left over from a huge batch of Pickled Shrimp.  That, reduced with some tomatoes, a heavy pour of vodka, and a splash of cream, made an incredible sauce.

ersatz smoked salmon linguine alla vodka

Then, a simple sautéed shrimp coated in some homemade glace, with gochugaru Brussels sprouts.  Simple and lovely.

shrimp 'n' sprouts

Man, I freakin’ love seafood.  I could eat my weight in seafood.