They have declared a "heat wave" all over France.
It's true, it's hot. It's officially a heat wave according to the government. This means that for at least 3 days in a row, the highs have been over 32°C (90°F) and at night the lows haven't dropped under 20°C (68°F). I have trouble calling it a heat wave because I grew up in Palm Springs, where these temperatures are relatively mild. We call it springtime.
But to normal non-desert living people, yes, this is a heat wave.
So, the reason it is so "unbearable" here is that A/C is a rarity. Some people have it, but most don't. They don't even have it on public transportation. The air is stuffy, and for those living in big cities, there is no air. The buildings and concrete just make it hotter.
Also, not everyone has a pool here and people think drafts will kill you. The lady sharing my office violently shut the window in the morning because I was letting a refreshing morning draft of 21°C into the office.
Running around in your underwear is not really a thing either. It really should be though.
Anyway, it may go without saying, but I do not have A/C either, and my average indoor temperature is about 28°C (82°F). To avoid making that number skyrocket, I've been avoiding the oven and trying to keep my stovetop activity to a minimum.
This is why having a crock pot is a blessing. It doesn't add one degree to the indoor temp.. plus if it did, I could take it to the garage and run it down there.. which I can't do with my stovetop or my oven. I also love coming home to a lovely wafting aroma.
This can only mean one thing...
It's bean time.
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and rinsed
2 bay leaves
few pinches salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 dried chile de arboles (or any dried chile)
6 cups water for chickpea cooking
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 fresh chile, sliced into rounds (I used a red Morrocan chile)
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 zucchinis, sliced into rounds and quartered
pinch fleur de sel
few cracks black pepper
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water for quinoa cooking
3 large juicy tomatoes, chopped (or lots of halved cherries)
2 chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, grated
handful chopped parsley
handful chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime
few pinches fleur de sel
1/4 tsp ground cumin
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
handful cubed feta (leave out if vegan)
1. Cook the chickpeas with the bay leaves, some salt ground cumin, chile de arboles in 6 cups of water. I used a crockpot. It's the best hands off method I've found to cook beans. I left them on low for 6 hours. You can simmer for 45 minutes in a normal pot but I've never done this. You want them to still hold their texture, but be creamy on the inside. Do not cook them to mush. When done, remove the chile de arboles (to add to your plate), discard the bay leaves, and drain the chickpeas. Set aside.
2. Prepare the good stuff. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pot (the same one you will be cooking the quinoa in). Add the fresh chile slices and fry for about 1 minute. Remove the chile slices and set aside.
3. In that chile infused oil, add the caraway seeds and cook for another 30 seconds, then add the turmeric and wait for it to fizz. Add the zucchini slices along with the garlic slices, a pinch of fleur de sel, and some black pepper. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Remove the zucchini mix and set aside.
4. If no oil is left after removing the zucchini, add 1 Tbsp more olive oil and the rinsed quinoa. Toast the quinoa for about 1 minute, making sure not to burn it, then add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Then remove from heat and set aside.
5. Now you are ready to assemble your salad. Toss the drained chickpeas with the tomatoes, shallots, grated garlic, herbs, lime juice, cumin, black pepper, fleur de sel, vinegar, and olive oil.
6. To serve, put the warm quinoa at the bottom of the plate or dish, then top with the chickpea salad. Add the cooked zucchini, chile slices, and feta as garnish.
For extra heat and smokey flavor, add those chile de arboles from cooking the chickpeas to your plate.
When you start to interact with your dinner, you will feel several emotions at once.
The cold tomatoes contrasting with the warm chickpeas sets off dizzying hallucinations. The quinoa cooked in in fused chile oil with caraway reminds you that life is beautiful. The chile may be mild, may be not. The uncertainty of each bite makes your heart skip a beat.
And then you remember why you love the way summer "heat waves" make you create.