01 May 2021

Weekend Cooking: Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher Kimball

Review of Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher KimballI was introduced to Christopher Kimball decades ago through the magazine Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. When he took off on his own a few years ago, he founded the Milk Street media company, which produces television and radio shows as well as a magazine and cookbooks. I've never seen the Milk Street shows, but I have cooked out of several of their cookbooks with good success.

Kimball's newest cookbook is Tuesday Nights Mediterranean, which I received through the Voracious Ambassador program. The idea behind the Tuesday Night cookbook series is to show how easy it is to put together nutritious home-cooked meals, even on busy weeknights; the focus of this book is food from all three coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, from North Africa all the way around to southern Spain.

Here are some things I really like about Tuesday Nights Mediterranean. The first three chapters are titled "Fast," "Faster," and "Fastest," corresponding to main dishes that can be made in 40, 35, and 25 minutes. Though my schedule is fairly open, cooks who have to juggle kids' activities and evening obligations with trying to get dinner on the table will appreciate the heads-up on prep times. I didn't test the timing, but I think the estimates are fairly accurate.

Review of Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher KimbalThe remaining chapters provide recipes for main-dish salads, which can also be used for satisfying lunches; vegetarian meals (though not necessarily vegan), soups, and filling sandwiches. Every recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish, an informative introduction, and tips. The directions are straightforward, and the ingredients can easily be found at any grocery store.

I made several recipes from Tuesday Nights Mediterranean, including Shrimp and Couscous with Tomatoes and Toasted Almonds; Pork with Kale, Red Wine, and Toasted Garlic; Spicy White Beans with Tahini, Lemon, and Parsley; and Tunisian Chickpeas with Swiss Chard (recipe below). Everything was delicious, and I'd be happy to make any one of these recipes again. I have more recipes marked to try, especially in the salad and vegetarian chapters.

If I have any issue with Tuesday Nights Mediterranean, it's this: experienced cooks may find themselves more inspired by the recipes than inclined to make the exact recipes presented. For example, when I made the spicy white bean recipe, I used the vegetables and beans I had on hand; it was the dressing I was most interested in and will definitely make it again for future bean salads. The Sardinian herb soup was terrific, but by the time I swapped ingredients to match what was in my kitchen, I likely had a different soup altogether.

Review of Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher KimbalStill, I know many younger home cooks who are eager to make nutritious, from-scratch, quick dinners and are grateful for reliable recipes that can be followed to the tee. No thinking necessary after a long day at work and parenting.

As for me, I'm a fan of this cookbook because I really like the flavor combinations. Among the recipes I plan to make in some form or another are fish with tomatoes and capers (Italian), carrot and sweet potato frittata (Egyptian), spicy beef-stuffed pitas (Levantine), and shrimp and spinach (Greek). Note too that Christopher Kimball's Tuesday Nights Mediterranean would make a great gift for graduates, mothers, fathers, and newlyweds.

I picked the following recipe to share because it was tasty and because I believe it will fit quite a few food preferences. We ate this as a main dish, but it would also pair nicely, as the recipe introduction notes, with grilled or roasted meats.

Tunisian Chickpeas with Swiss Chard
Review of Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher KimbalServes 4
35 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Two 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard (about 1 pound), stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, tomato paste, coriander and cumin; then cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste has browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes with their juice, chard stems, 1½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 cup water, scraping up any browned bits.

Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and chard stems have softened, 10 to 14 minutes. With the pot still on medium-low, use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to roughly mash the mixture; it's fine if many of the chickpeas remain whole.

Return to a simmer over medium-high, then add the chard leaves. Cook, stirring, until they are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of oil and lemon wedges on the side.

Note: Recipe and scans shared in the context of review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


gluten Free A_Z Blog 5/1/21, 7:27 AM  

thank you for that interesting review. I love the recipe you shared. Sounds delicious.

Mae Travels 5/1/21, 7:41 AM  

Christopher Kimball's various TV shows had a lot of interesting ideas about technique and theory/science of cooking, which were enjoyable. I've never tried any of his cookbooks, but probably should. It's interesting to tackle the entire Mediterranean, with all the different flavor profiles.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Jackie McGuinness 5/1/21, 8:21 AM  

I will look for this at the library. I cook like you do, using what I have on hand, especially in the last year as I am not running out just to buy on item a recipe calls for.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 5/1/21, 9:38 AM  

Mediterranean food sounds ideal; it is always being touted as fabulously good-for-us. I'll look for this one.

Nancy Andres at Colors 4 Health 5/1/21, 11:20 AM  

Thanks for sharing the recipe Beth. I'm going to pin this post and definitely make the recipe. Sounds yummy.

Tina 5/1/21, 3:56 PM  

Love Kimmball and you just can't go wrong with ATK. I subscribed to the Cook's Illustrated for a while you always found something wonderful to make.

Carole 5/1/21, 6:05 PM  

Now on my library list - thanks!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 5/1/21, 8:46 PM  

OK, that swiss chard dish is a must make!

Marg 5/1/21, 10:35 PM  

This sounds like a book I would be able to cook out of regularly!

Laurie C 5/2/21, 9:45 AM  

The cookbook sounds really good, but I just said to my husband last night that I really don't need any more cookbooks, and he's usually the one to cook the fast, weeknight dinners, not me. I love the sound of the Tunisian Chickpeas and Swiss Chard, though, and might take a peek at the whole cookbook from the library. I can always weed one from my collection if I need to make room for a new one.

Abigail Pearson 5/2/21, 10:23 AM  

Ooh that cookbook looks amazing!

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