Finally, Philadelphia earned itself a break from the insufferable summer heat. For the first time in weeks (really, since I moved into my new place), leaving the windows open didn’t mean lying on the floor under the fan to save the couch from sweat. Instead of dressing to brave the heatwave, dresses were yanked from clean hangers and worn for the sole purpose of a lovely appearance. Flipflops are chosen over sneakers not because they make my feet un-sweaty, but because they let my tootsies wiggle in the light breeze. Oh yeah, and the best part? Eating lunch and reading outside. Thank you for abating, you stifling heatwave. Welcome, blues skies I can actually lie under, gentle grass to sit upon, and thoughtful books to slip through.
Embracing the lovely weather, my friend Tara and I strolled back to her truck in West Philadelphia after work and slithered our way through just-past-rush hour traffic and Center City, to make a neat landing in Fairmount. The Belgian Cafe is a lovely little restaurant settled on a corner of Green, with fairly priced food and drink. Luckily, this is one of the few places in Philadelphia that is not dry or a BYO. Settling into Ikea-esque red plastic seats on either side of a small patio table, we passed the next three hours with just about as many drinks and a lovely bite of tofu before making our way home. While I haven’t any photos to share with you of my new hideout, I trust you’ll give it a shot and maybe even see me there.
At work, we were rewarded for our vast book/manuscript/folio-moving efforts with a pizza party, featuring what must be the best pizza in Philadelphia: Dock Street pizza. I’m not going to lie. A few of us were put off at the idea of a pizza party as a reward, flashing back to the horrible lunchroom pizza from 3rd grade at public school, but oh were we wrong. Having been a fairly frequent patron of Dock Street when it was only two blocks from my apartment, I knew we were in for a lovely treat. If you’re ever traveling through Philadelphia and don’t have any time restrictions for dinner, hop on a trolly (westbound to 69th street) and get off at 50th. Across the street will be the best pizza. We worker-bees certainly enjoyed it!
Now that you know the story of my life (at least for the past two days), I ought to move on to more important things, like spicy roasted chickpeas. This is one of the most delicious, easily made dinners. The warmth of the spices on the chickpeas is easily cooled by the sweet cucumber, and the feta saves any need for salt or dressing. Of course, you could always add a simple vinaigrette or something, but I think this dish does quite well on its own. Also, if you make quite a lot of chickpeas at once, they also double as a lovely afternoon snack, or even appetizer, should you find yourself needing/wanting one.
Roasted Chickpea Salad
1 can chickpeas (drained, rinsed, and dried)
1 romaine heart
1 small pickling cucumber
4 oz. Feta cheese (in brine, cut into cubes or crumbled)
1 small garlic clove (chopped)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
sprinkling of black pepper
Preheat to 375.
Open the can of chickpeas, drain, rinse, and dry them well. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil to coat them, then add the turmeric, cayenne, red pepper flakes (you can leave either the cayenne or flakes out if you’re not into very spicy things), cinnamon, and garlic. Toss again to coat.
Spread into a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet/pan, and roast for 20-40 minutes (depending on how crunchy you like them), stirring/flipping them after 15 minutes.
While roasting, wash and tear the romaine to form a nice, soft bed for the chickpeas. Slice the cucumber thickly, adding it to the lettuce. Once the chickpeas are out, cube/crumble the feta as they cool, then add both to the top of the lettuce and cucumber. Voila! A mediterranean masterpiece with minimal effort.