As the Test Kitchen Chef at Food52, I oversee nearly everything that gets cooked in our kitchen. Although I spend the majority of my time working on photo and video shoots, an interesting aspect of my job is that I prepare and serve lunch when we host a business meeting in our office.
For lunch meetings, I choose which recipe to serve based on three criteria:
- The recipe must serve a crowd easily.
- The recipe must be vegetarian, and it must prominently feature seasonal produce.
- The recipe must not be too time consuming. (Sorry but not sorry, I’m a busy chef.)
There is one preparation in particular that I have recently fallen in love with, because it not only tastes delicious and looks attractive, but also satisfies all three criteria. Normally, if I make the same dish more than a few times, I grow antsy to experiment with new ingredients and flavors. Yet, I repeatedly cook Spiced Chickpeas with Wilted Kale and Roasted Carrots because the recipe allows for a multitude of fun substitutions and creative choices.
I usually begin this recipe by sautéing shallots in olive oil and then adding diced cilantro stems—one of my all-time favorite ingredients—and a spice mix that includes sumac, coriander, and cumin. However, if I’m in the mood to use garlic and onions instead of shallots, or if I want to use za'atar instead of cumin, the recipe will taste just as good. It is designed for flexibility, which has the added bonus of allowing me to utilize what I already have on hand rather than having to shop for extra ingredients.
When the spices in the skillet become fragrant and the shallots begin to soften and caramelize, I add the chickpeas, followed by red kale (although you can substitute this with any hearty green that you desire). When the kale begins to wilt down, I remove the skillet from the heat and create a delicate sauce by adding lime juice and a dollop of crème fraîche. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature, garnished with roasted carrots, cilantro leaves, and some crispy shallots if you are feeling ambitious.
As spring produce starts to appear at the local New York City farmers markets, I know that soon I will have to retire this admittedly wintery recipe and find something new to serve during lunch meetings—although if I substitute charred sugar snap peas for the roasted carrots, I could probably continue serving this dish until early June! The point, however, is that I am actively looking for new recipe ideas to serve during lunch meetings, and I want to explicitly call on YOU, the beloved Food52 community, for inspiration.
Leave a comment at the bottom of this article and recommend what you would cook for a business lunch at Food52. Keep in mind the three criteria listed above, and suggest recipe ideas (ideally in links) that are beautiful enough to serve to Amanda Hesser, yet rustic enough to serve as part of a casual, family-style meal. If I end up serving your recipe at the next office lunch, I will be sure to give you a big shout out on social media.
- 1 pound carrots (I use rainbow carrots when available, they add nice color)
- olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 shallots, peeled and cut into thin half moons
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon aleppo chile (substitute 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes if you must)
- 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch red kale, washed, leaves torn into bite size pieces, stems discarded (substitute any hearty greens)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons creme fraiche
Have ideas about what our new power lunch should be? Share them in the comments!