Summer companions.

Feta-Chickpea-and-Spinach-Salad-(5965)Just before the summer months, here in the UK a.k.a. the non-existent one, I tweeted that I would have two constants in my kitchen: James Ramsden’s Small Adventures in Cooking (review found here) and Niamh Shields’ Comfort and Spice. And I really did. They are two different books with different styles of cooking but equally delightful, as are the two young people who wrote them.


During one very rainy morning, where J was working from home, I wanted something quick to prepare for lunch, with minimum dishes, plates and so on to wash. There was only one condition: I had some chickpeas in the pantry to use up. Armed with a pencil (just because I always have to write notes) and my trusty companions I found two easy recipes which I have to say went down very well. Lunch and dinner sorted: James’ spinach and chickpea curry and Niamh’s spiced chickpea, spinach and feta salad. Niamh’s recipe was great simply served on toast (not the usual beans I tell ya). I changed a few things here and there *not* because the recipe needed it. By all means, definitely not! (I just had to clear that up.) I had to adapt according to the ingredients I had, even though I still had to make a trip to my local store. I’m sure Niamh doesn’t mind. The list may be a bit long but you will end up with something very very tasty. Add turmeric, garam masala and chilli flakes to some toasted coriander and cumin seeds (which you place in a dry pan for a minute or so, and grind). In a pan, fry a finely chopped onion (and also some celery if you have) and add the spices. Then add around three cubes of finely chopped crystallized ginger and garlic in the same pan. Tip in fresh plum tomatoes (quartered) and cook for a few minutes, but don’t let the tomatoes get too squishy. Add the chickpeas (from a large tin if you don’t have the dried ones which you have already cooked) and spinach, and let this wilt. All you need now is fresh coriander and feta, cut into small cubes, lemon juice and perhaps a sprinkling of salt. You don’t need pepper if you added the chilli. Love it.


All James’ curry needed is rice and some pita to mop everything up with. Watch him here make a version of this on his website. You need an onion, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper, chickpeas, spinach, coconut milk, tomato purée, some lemon juice and things to serve it with. And if you want to add some chicken to it, you always could, but I liked it as is. It is a simple meal and on paper it may not seem much, as he points out, but it works. It really does and it will make your life easier when you just cannot or will not spend any more than a chunk of minutes in the kitchen after work. So make this, serve in a bowl, relax, feet up on the coffee table and enjoy. I certainly did.

You can read all about Niamh’s food here ( and James’ adventures here ( Both are on Twitter: @eatlikeagirl and @jteramsden. They will answer any kitchen query. I told you – they are lovely.

Enjoy the books!

Rob x

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