Sesame Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to cookbooks. I am very particular about the kind of cookbook that I like, and what (to me) is user-friendly. There are undoubtedly a variety of opinions on the subject, each cook with his or her particular needs and must-haves.

Where do you fall? Are pictures necessary, or merely window-dressing? Clever anecdotes, histories, and explanations of the recipes or straight-up preparation steps? Here are my ‘druthers:

  • One recipe per page.
  • Pictures: usually necessary.
  • History: yes!
  • Explanations: yes, especially in “international” cookbooks.
  • Anecdotes: I can do without them.


If I was stranded on a desert island with an industrial kitchen and a Whole Foods Market and a handful of my best friends, AND could have one cookbook, it would be The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman. It was gifted to me by my sister at Christmas 2012 and even though it is rife with anecdotes, I haven’t yet found a recipe that I disliked. Not to mention Deb is a gifted food photographer. That always helps.

salad beginnings

This recipe, for Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad, was a first for me. I loved the idea of sesame and turkey and garlic and lemon and chickpeas all coming together on one plate.


Nothing was difficult or particularly time-consuming to prepare, and the meatballs and salad kept very well for subsequent lunches and dinners. And every once in a while, we really should be eating a meal without bread, right? At least that’s what they tell me. You know… THEY.

plated balls

The only nitpicky thing I’ll say about this recipe is that there wasn’t an amazing toasted-sesame-seed flavor coming through in the meatballs. One of my favorite things is when a really good toasted bagel, encrusted with 100,000 sesame seeds, gives you that satisfying nutty sesame flavor on the first bite. I was hoping for a whiff of that in this recipe, but alas. Next time I’ll be adding a few teaspoons of sesame oil to the meatball mix or cooking the meatballs themselves in sesame oil.


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