I just got the second cookbook from the Bakopoulos sisters called “Back to the Beginning” and I could not be more psyched to dive in! Their first cookbook, Around the Greek Table is my #1 , all time favourite cookbook! The recipes are fantastic , easy to follow and the results will be as expected which is not a given with many cookbooks. I also love how in both books they show you how to pronounce the Greek name of each dish. Nice touch 😉
This one is called:
Around the Greek Table won “The Best Cookbook in the World” a couple of years ago and I am sure this one won’t disappoint either. If you are a fan of Mediterannian food, then these books are for you.
I needed a side dish one evening and decided on this recipe as I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. I had later posted a pic of it on Instagram to gauge how it would be received. To my delight, I got lots of requests for the recipe. When I sent it to them, I got some questions. They seemed to have reservations about some of the ingredients.
1) Why the yogurt? What’s the point?
Well, I wondered the same thing but did not omit it. I have faith in the sisters! I discovered that it is a necessary component. It’s a pleasant contrast to the other flavours; it cuts and lightens the tomatoey spiciness of the dish. I would not make this without the yogurt. Also, its good for you!
2) CUMIN SEEDS? I can’t be doin’ with all that Cumin.
Ok fair enough. I don’t like too much cumin either and use it sparingly. However in this dish, the toasted cumin seeds have a much lighter, nuttier taste than ground cumin. But if this is really a “no-go”, then I recommend adding a dash of Oregano instead towards the end. In Greek cooking, fresh mint an dried oregano are the best of friends. Although frankly, the dish would be great without cumin or oregano. The tomato, allspice, pepper flakes and mint can hold their own.
Cumin gets a bad-rap for its distinctive flavour but it boots iron, immunity and fights free radicals in the body.
3) What does Allspice taste like?
Allspice is synonymous with comfort food. It tastes like a blend of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. You’ll love what it adds to the dish!
(note: Depending on the brand, it may be called Jamaican Allspice)
Cold weather calls for warm salads. This chickpea salad with allspice, cumin and tomato is very fragrant and colourful. The addition of mint and yogurt rounds it out lightens it up. Very yummy and comforting with nice flavour complexity.
Recipe (V) (GF)
Serves 4, Cooking time: 20 min
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds (or less if you prefer)
1/4 tsp of dried red chilies (flakes)
5 scallions (green onion) White and pale green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 can (19 oz / 540ml) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced or cut into fine ribbons
4 tbsp Greek Yogurt (I love 2% Skotidakis Plain Greek Yogurt)
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat (low if you have a gas range). When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and and chilies , stirring constantly until the seeds are toasted and fragrant. This can happen very quickly so keep an eye on it.
Add the remaining olive oil along with the scallions and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, salt and allspice. Stir and cook until juices are absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the fresh mint. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Plate it and top with a large dollop of the Greek Yogurt.
Why not check out my other recipes by the Bakopoulos sisters?