The coming week will mark the birthdays of two of my favourite grandparents, who made a huge impact on my life growing up and still do to this very day. They are no longer alive but I see a little bit of them in everything I do. I remember that joy for life I had and that they nurtured every time we visited them. They let us make-believe till lunch and then make-believe some more till it was time to wash away the dirt. That was true freedom. That’s what I will always carry with me.
I don’t think I grieved for their deaths when it was all still raw. I tried but I was too young for my grandfather’s death and my grandma’s passing was very surreal. Like the type of thing that wasn’t supposed to happen to people you knew. Except it does. When I find myself sitting in the quiet spaces of this life I am sometimes overcome with nostalgia and yearning for that feeling of joy we got by mixing mud with water. I miss that careless abandon. It’s the same life we pieced together by digging into my grandma’s cupboards and trying on all her clothes and jewellery, deliberately making her open her trunks so we could take some home with us. She always let us.
I don’t know for certain how grief is supposed to feel but there never was any template to begin with. All I know is that I’m a different person because of them. They gave my sisters and I love when we didn’t even know we needed it. They also were the first to show me this fear of losing someone I loved. They weren’t perfect but they gave us the perfect mother. I wish they were here.
Smoky beets with marinated chickpeas
- The chickpeas in this recipe can be made a day ahead. Same with the beets. Just keep them separate and toss them together right before serving.
- Most important note: Have fun. There is no other way.
Inspired by Bon Appetit
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp pearl onions, sliced into thin rounds or diced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 bunch (about 4) of beets, greens removed + 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp kosher salt + 1 tsp pepper
- Half an orange
- More basil and thyme, to serve
- Feta (optional)
Toss the chickpeas, herbs, pepper flakes, garlic, onions, lemon juice and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl. Let in sit in the fridge.
Heat a charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Toss the beets with the olive oil, salt and pepper and place on the hot grill for 30 minutes. Cover the grill. Turn the beets every 10 minutes to char evenly on all sides. At the last 15 minutes of cooking, place the halved orange on the grill. The beets are ready when a pairing knife runs through them without resistance. The orange is ready when it’s charred and fragrant.
Let the beets cool and then peel the skins off them using either your hands or the back of a pairing knife. Cut the beets into wedges or cubes depending on how big they are. Place them on a serving platter.
Toss the chickpeas into the mix and squeeze the charred orange juice over it all. Add more fresh herbs and top with feta, if using. If not, just sprinkle more salt, if required.