Before working to open the ground-breaking Tusk, Sam Smith worked at Philadelphia’s Zahav and, after moving to Portland, Ava Gene’s. But it was a trip to Israel with Zahav chef Michael Solomonov that inspired Smith to cook “the way we want to eat,” which to Smith means good, simple food served without any pretense or formality.
The vegetable-forward Tusk, with dishes loosely based on Middle Eastern flavors, reflected the way we like to eat at Real Good Food, too. Local produce, grains, beans, and flavors built with dried chiles and spices, fresh herbs, bright acid from carefully crafted vinegars, and good extra virgin olive oil offer endless possibilities.
It starts with chickpeas cooked with garlic and chile, so start the day before you plan to serve it. The cooked beans are combined with green beans and sweet peppers, both in season now and at their peak of flavor. An herby dressing ties everything together, and options for making the salad a main dish include tinned fish and egg.
For the shopping list
Fresh Beans (romano, yellow wax or green bean)
Sweet Peppers (Jimmy nardello, bell, gypsy) cut into ½ dice
Red onion cut into thin strips
From the kitchen
The night before you make this dish, soak the chickpeas in at least 3 cups of water.
The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas well. Put into a pot with a crushed garlic clove, chile, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil, skim the foam that rises to the top, and turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes until creamy but not falling apart. Pour into a container to cool.
While cooking the chickpeas, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Blanch the string beans for 45 seconds to a minute. You still want them to maintain some crunch but lose their raw flavor. Put on a plate to cool while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
Chop the pepper and onion, pick the herbs, and measure out the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice.
Add tinned fish to make this salad a main dish.
This Spanish-style, romesco-inspired condiment is just roasted pepper and almond sauce. No matter what you call it, it’s delicious,.