You can plan things as meticulously as you like but the universe has its own sense of humor and sometimes the best thing you can do is roll over and laugh along with it.
The boys and I put together an Easter care package for my Mom — we filled it with a spread of edibles including canned tuna (which I continue to think is one of the most sensible gifts you can give anyone), thin crisp crackers, single serve almond butter pouches, granola bars, an assortment of herbal teas and, my personal favorite, individually wrapped travel size packets of sour pickles and olives (have you seen these?). I come from a long line of salt & vinegar genes (it’s a Québec thing) and I can still picture my Mom totting along olives in small plastic containers for her Mom during visits to Montreal. Come lunchtime, my Mom would assemble a humble little salad for her Mom and top it with green olives. It was as obvious a choice as tomato. Discovering the individually packaged olives, as banal as they may otherwise seem, had me giddy with excitement anticipating my mom’s enjoyment of them. So off our care package went – wrapped in spring paper with tulip stickers, hearts, kisses and our well wishes destined for Canada (in caps and in bold).
And no sooner did the parcel leave than I started tracking its journey – the way people like me do. I watched it work its way through the US postal system and then on to the transfer airport where I anticipated the next update from Canada customs (I know the sequence well by now) but instead, the day 5 update read something entirely different; it went just like this: Arrived: United Kingdom.
I had the same initial reaction that anyone would under the circumstances I guess. It’s hard not to feel a pang of disappointment (and stuff) when these things happen. And I suppose I could have spent my morning (ish) on the phone getting passed along from well-meaning person to well-meaning person, none of whom would likely know more about the whereabouts and the whys of the package than I did. So instead, I decided to roll the whole thing up, wish it well and cast it out into the wind on a beautiful walk with my dog. And yes, I even found it mildly amusing in some perverse kind of way. And when I mentioned it to my husband later that evening, he reacted similarly and then added “well, look at it this way, if it does make it back across the pond it will double as a Mother’s day gift.” I knew there was a reason I married this man.
And speaking of Spring blessings, these delightful chickpea cakes have been a most welcome addition to our March rotation. A simple pull together featuring spring peas, feta, whole grains and chickpea accompanied by a lip-smacking sauce ~ these little cakes pack an impressive nutrition punch for their size and bake up crisp and delicious in the oven.
Easy to assemble, these patties hold together well out of the oven. You can enjoy them as a light meal or, as we did this past weekend, as an appetizer during cocktail hour. I served the cakes on a singular platter with the yogurt sauce in the center and little plates. We simply spooned the sauce over top and ate them as finger food. It worked beautifully for a small group before heading out for dinner.
The lemon-dill yogurt sauce is a huge part of this edible experience so you definitely don’t want to miss it. The sauce is very reminiscent of tzatziki in terms of its salty garlicky tang (that glorious sour element from the lemon) only it’s much quicker to assemble. I’ve taken to making double batches to create leftovers to enjoy drizzled over just about anything — it sure spruces up my lunch hour boiled eggs and coleslaw. And if dill is not your thing, I have other options set out in the Notes section of the recipe card.
I hope you enjoy discovering these light and flavorful bites. I think they would serve up beautifully for a spring brunch ~ a delicious option for your table. As always, be sure to read the Notes section in the recipe card below for substitutions and best results.
- For the Cakes:
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (thoroughly rinsed and drained if using canned)
- scant ½ cup yellow onion, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, or to taste, minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup cooked grains or rice of choice (see Notes) at room temperature
- ¾ cup crumpled feta cheese
- ½ cup spring peas
- 1 egg
- sea salt & coarse pepper to taste
- For the Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, I use 2%
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 2 cloves of garlic, or to taste, minced
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
- sea salt & coarse pepper to taste
- I recommend making the yogurt sauce at least one hour ahead of time to allow the flavors to permeate. Simply combine all the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl or container with lid. Season with salt to taste and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Place cooked chickpeas, onion and garlic in a small blender or food processor. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp olive oil and a good pinch of coarse black pepper and salt to taste.
- Pulse the ingredients together until they are broken down but not to the point of a smooth purée. The ingredients should still be well textured (somewhat lumpy) but broken down.
- Transfer ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add cooked grain of choice, feta and peas mixing with a spoon to combine. Add egg, pepper & salt and mix well to combine. The mixture should be moist and sticky (capable of forming into a patty).
- Using your hands, form the mixture into patties - roughly ⅓-inch thick x 2½-inches in diameter, to yield approximately 12 cakes.
- Carefully transfer the cakes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (ungreased).
- Bake the cakes for 18-20 minutes - they will be fragrant and have golden striations on the bottom side. Remove tray - wait two minutes - and carefully turn the patties over and cook for another 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown and beginning to crisp on the outside. The trick is to get them a nice golden color/crispy texture without burning them.
- Remove tray from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 3-5 minutes before gently transferring to a plate.
- Serve cakes warm with a generous dollop of delicious lemon-dill yogurt sauce.
- These cakes are best enjoyed from the oven (their crispy texture will not endure well in storage).
The Cheese: the cheese imparts taste and texture to these cakes and also adds a binding/elasticity element. Goat cheese would be a good substitute for the feta here.
The Sauce: dill and lemon complement these spring inspired cakes but you can substitute as you please - rosemary, a touch of basil, mint or pineapple sage are other ideas depending on your particular preference.
Timing: I recommend assembling the sauce at least one hour ahead of time to allow the delicious flavors to gather. Keep in mind though that the garlic will also intensify over time - I like my garlic the way I like my cheese (the stinkier the better) but if you know this is not your thing, you can mix it in at the last moment or skip it altogether.
Serving: these cakes are definitely at their best served from the oven - the crispiness will not endure in storage. If you have leftovers, you can certainly store them and rewarm but the texture experience may be different.
Welcome Spring ~ ♥ ~