Gail Simmons, one of the  judges on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and a long-time writer for Food & Wine magazine, has just released a new cookbook,  “Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as  Professional Eater.”

   You can meet the author on Feb. 28 at the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross.  The book talk and signing takes place at 7:45 p.m. ($45 includes book) or you can fork over the big bucks ($65) and attend  the VIP   reception at 7 p.m., featuring sweet and savory bites by Taste Catering of San Francisco.

    Meanwhile, curious cooks can purchase a book at Simmons’ website, gailsimmons.com. Here’s a vegetarianrecipe from the book, perfect for Meatless Mondays:

Chickpea, Artichoke and Spinach Stew

Serves 4

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ pound soft cooked  chorizo, sliced ¼-inch thick

1 28-ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, juices reserved

3 large artichokes, trimmed, hearts quartered and reserved in lemon water

2 teaspoons sweet pimento

1 bay leaf

2 cups chicken stock

Coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound spinach, thick stems discarded

For pan con tomate :

8 slices thickly cut country bread

4 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed

2 ripe tomatoes, quartered

Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours. Add water as necessary to maintain level.  Drain the chickpeas and set aside.

In a medium, heavy pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook until just beginning to brown and oils have been released, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until sizzling, about 4 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, pimentón, and bay leaf; cook for 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, then reduce heat to low and pour in reserved tomato juices and chicken stock. 

Bring stew to a boil, adjust seasonings as desired with salt and pepper, and simmer until artichoke hearts are cooked through, about 30 minutes. 

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with slices of pan con tomate (recipe below).

For pan con tomate:  Toast or grill bread. Rub garlic over warm bread. Grate the tomatoes on a box grater, then spread the grated seeds evenly over the bread. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.



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