A couple of years ago I had the ‘arduous’ task of travelling around a handful of French regions researching Rachel Khoo’s My Little French Kitchen. Among the highlights of our epic gastronomic tour was an extended stay in Provence, where we later returned in the spring to shoot the recipes in a beautiful villa in the Luberon, just outside Cucuron.
During our initial research trip we discovered a saffron producer, L’Aube du Safran, with an impeccably tasteful B&B entreprise (he was an architect, she was an interior designer in a previous life in Paris, sigh), with a clutch of rooms and a garden cultivating saffron, which was not such a rare sight in those parts some 100 years ago and hence a tradition they are on a mission to revive. Needless to say, we got horrendously lost somewhere in the shadow of the Mont Ventoux in our hire car as we always do when we travel together; I put it down to the fact that we so often explore remote places together, not our navigational ineptitude (our other halves might disagree).
Marie and Francois Pillet made use of their homegrown saffron in a number of clever ways and sold them in pretty little jars, one of which contained a version of this saffron and chickpea spread. For the following four nights I slathered it on little rounds of toasted baguette whilst guzzling a tumbler of rose. It was pretty spesh and I suggest you do the same. It’s almost spring after all and this can be whipped together out of the store cupboard with just a little spritz of lemon juice to bring it all together.
Saffron and chickpea spread
Preparation time 5 minutes
From the pantry:
150g chickpeas, drained
generous pinch of saffron
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
Crackers, to serve
From the veg box:
Juice ½ a lemon
Place the saffron strands in a small heatproof bowl. Boil the kettle and pour 2 tbsp of water over the top. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Blend the chickpeas with the saffron, the water too, and the olive oil, seasoning and lemon juice. Blend in a food processor to desired consistency (I like it silky smooth). Serve on little crackers.
Don’t have any saffron, add a few chilli flakes to taste. This also works well with cannellini beans.