For my first post of 2015, I'm belatedly celebrating the one-year birthday of Borrowed Salt. The blog started as a hobby, but has since changed my life in some massive, unexpected ways.
A year ago, I was in Santa Monica, an MBA-toting corporate striver, a financially responsible pragmatist, quite the go-getter when I really tried. But then it all fell apart, with an impulsively purchased Canon and a little too much downtime at work. All of a sudden I was in culinary school, in Ireland. All of a sudden I was cleaning buckets of squid, in Berkeley. And all of a sudden I've moved my life here, to San Francisco, pretending to know about lighting setups and white balance.
I'm working at an e-commerce food startup in SoMa. I started as a test kitchen assistant and photographer, and I'm now gainfully employed as their marketing manager, helping to build an awesome new brand from scratch.
For non Bay Areans out there, SoMa is the ground zero of tech startups. I walk down rain-scrubbed streets lined with slickly renovated warehouses, watching young tech bros in swim trunks high-fiving over communal reclaimed wood desks. The coffee shop is a din of VC, apps, equity, angels, code. My office has a bean bag chair.
And what do I get to do amidst all of these brilliant young tech minds? I take pictures of food. YESSSSS!
Our test kitchen chef spent years at San Francisco's top restaurants, and it shows. She has a knack for combining unexpected flavors to create delicious spins on healthy, accessible dishes.
Here's one of my favorites - preserved lemon, ginger and sun-dried tomatoes add bright tang to a creamy coconut broth, rich with chickpeas and spinach. It's vegan, gluten-free, takes less than 30 minutes to cook, and it tastes like an all-cash buyout topped with three seats on the board.
Coconut Chickpeas with Preserved Lemon and Spinach
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 30 min
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup Jasmine rice
1 cipollini onion, sliced thin
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced finely
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup vegetable stock
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
8 ounces baby spinach
1 cup coconut milk
Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and add hot water to cover.
Place rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat so water is barely simmering. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and let sit covered for 10 minutes.
While the rice cooks, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add sliced onion and a pinch of salt and reduce heat to low. Cook onions until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving ¼ cup of soaking liquid. Slice into ¼-inch strips.
Once the onion has softened, add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until ginger softens, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon peel, sun-dried tomatoes, reserved tomato soaking liquid and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold water and add to saucepan. Simmer another 5 minutes.
Add spinach and coconut milk to saucepan and cook until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in a shallow bowl over rice.