Trio of Mediterranean Canapés
Although these recipes don't exactly fit the
one-dish Sunday Supper theme of this website, the canapés are so much fun for outdoor
summer cocktail parties that I wanted to share them with readers of this website before
the summer is over.
Kale and Pine Nuts
Fava Beans and Peccorino Cheese
Chickpea Puree with Lavender or Toasted Cumin Seeds
The toppings are served on a toasted baguette slices, which are rubbed with garlic. This is useful technique to have in your repertoire for other uses. Each canapé has a distinctive flavor and the three together look pretty when combined on one plate. (I present the three canapés on one big platter so guests can take their choice.) The flavors remind us of a languid cocktail hour, sipping rosé wine on balmy nights in St. Tropez as the warm Mediterranean sun is setting over the Maûres mountains.
Drain and rinse in cold water until cool enough to handle.
Using your hands, wring out as much water as possible.
1 clove of garlic put through a press
1 lemon (juice and zest)
3 TBS. sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
additional olive oil (to taste)
Mix and set aside until ready to serve.
Prepare the fava beans as in the Ethereal Cassoulet recipe. You should have about 1 cup of cleaned beans.
Sauté the beans in oil olive with a large clove of chopped garlic for about 10 minutes, until they are soft and begin to break apart.
In a bowl, coarsely mash (but do not over do it) using a pastry cutter or the back of a fork.
Add finely grated Peccorino cheese to taste (about ¼ cup would be average) and juice of½ lemon.
Salt and pepper as needed and set aside until ready to serve.
Drain one 15.5 oz. can of chickpeas and simmer them in 1 cup of chicken broth with 2 cloves of whole garlic (peeled) and 3 bay leaves for 20 minutes.
Drain the cooked chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid. Put the chickpeas and cooked garlic cloves through a food processor (or blender), adding the juice of½ a lemon, 1- 2 TBS. olive oil and as much of the reserved chicken broth as necessary to make a spreadable puree. (Add the broth carefully to avoid making the puree too runny.)
Salt and pepper to taste and set aside until ready to serve.
Assembly (same for all 3 recipes):
Cut baguettes into thin slices (cut on the diagonal for a larger surface), allowing at least 3 slices per person (one for each type of canapé). Arrange them on a flat cookie sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil and put under the broiler until the tops begin to turn light brown. Remove immediately and rub each slice with a clove of whole garlic.
Spread a thin layer of the canapé spread on each slice and serve immediately.
For the chickpeas, sprinkle with Herbes de Provence. Optional: top with a sliver of anchovy or ½ a cherry tomato.
Lavender: This is not an easy flavoring to use. Its strong pungency can easily overwhelm a dish so it should be used in very small quantities. In this recipe, use only a few florets from one flower bud. Chickpeas and lavender seem to have a natural affinity for each other. We discovered this combination at the Baron Brisse Restaurant in Gemenos, France. For more information on cooking with lavender, there is a good book written by Robert Kourik called The Lavender Garden available from Amazon Books (http://www.amazon.com).
Toasted Cumin Seeds: I find the toasted cumin seeds are much more versatile to use than the raw version because toasting brings out their nuttiness. When toasted, they can be used to flavor salad dressings, adding just a hint of interesting flavor. To toast cumin seeds, "dry sauté" (i.e. without any oil) in a pre-heated cast iron (or similar thick-bottomed skillet) for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. The seeds will begin to burn soon after they reach the toasted stage. So be ready to remove them from the skillet immediately into a bowl to stop the browning. It is best to pulverize them in a mortar and pestle while still hot.