Andy Baraghani talks food and identity in new cookbook

Baraghani shares her philosophy on food and identity with Healthline – plus, the Chickpea Cacio e Pepe recipe from her new book.

Andy Baraghani describes himself as curious — curious to cook, to travel, to mix these passions and to share what he has learned with others.

This curiosity underpins the philosophy behind her next cookbook“The Cook You Want To Be: Everyday Recipes To Impress,” out May 24 from Lorena Jones Books (Penguin Random House).

“I want to gather as much information and knowledge as I can and process it, and then be able to store it or, even better, pass that information on,” Baraghani told Healthline.

A chef, food writer, recipe developer and former editor of Bon Appétit et Saveur, Baraghani seeks to do just that in his cookbook: guide readers in creating dishes that don’t require a lot of culinary experience, knowledge of nutrition or kitchen gadgets.

The more than 120 recipes are inspired by his identity as a first-generation queer Iranian-American, as well as his experiences traveling the world and cooking for and with others, such as at restaurants like Chez Panisse and Estela. .

To that end, the cookbook features personal essays that explore these inspirations and offer practical tips for making cooking simpler.

“There are stories and personal experiences in this book that I write about, but I wanted to get the reader to embrace those stories, embrace those techniques, embrace those recipes, and really integrate and apply the knowledge they learned. through my experiences in their own lives so they can feel more empowered in the kitchen and become the cook they want to be,” Baraghani said.

The cookbook’s offerings range from “Mighty Little Recipes” — such as sauces and dressings — and snacks to share (like Borani, aka the queen of all yogurt dips) to meat dishes and a few desserts. , like an apple and tahini pancake.

But, Baraghani said, “this book is mostly about vegetables.”

In fact, he said one of his favorite chapters is “Salad for Days,” which is — you guessed it — all about innovative salads, including the eat-with-everything cucumber salad and chunky ones. of citrus with avocado and caramelized dates.

Another favorite chapter, “Mind Your Veg,” puts veggies front and center in recipes like caramelized sweet potatoes with browned butter harissa and peas with chunky chunks of feta and zhoug.

“I really tried to give people options and variations,” Baraghani said. “I really tried to think of what would be easy for people to access but also feel good about having made this meal.”

“I want the food to not only taste good, but I want it to make you feel good.”

—Andy Baraghani

Part of that effort, he said, included writing recipes that don’t expect readers to use kitchen gadgets like juicers or garlic presses if they don’t want to. not or do not have these items on hand.

Although the book includes a guide to kitchen equipment and utensils that people might find useful, Baraghani said it was important to keep it practical.

“I think there’s this fear in so many people who cook,” he said. “Adding all this equipment over-complicates tasks that aren’t complicated at all.”

It’s also why, in the age of YouTube chefs and TikTok recipes, Baraghani was inspired to publish a print cookbook rather than share those recipes online.

A print cookbook, he said, encourages something critical that social media cooking doesn’t necessarily make room for: taking your time.

Additionally, it allowed Baraghani to work with designers, photographers, and other artists to lay out the cookbook so that the book itself could contribute to the storytelling in its own way.

“There’s something that’s always very satisfying, at least for me, about cooking from a book and not scrolling down a page or looking into your phone,” he said. “I want people to sit with the images. I want people to sit down with the type, title, copy, top note, sidebars, recipe taste. I don’t think that’s something that happens that often with digital media.

You can order “The Cook You Want to Be: Everyday Recipes to Impress” at Books by Lorena Jones (Penguin Random House) via Amazon here.

“I certainly don’t promise that you will be the greatest cook in the world after this book,” Baraghani said. “I promise you will learn at least one thing that will make you a more confident and curious cook.”

—Andy Baraghani

Serves: 4 (plus, maybe, some remnants, although I doubt it)

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small Meyer or regular lemon, thinly sliced, seeds picked
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of rosemary or 4 sprigs of thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound tubular pasta (such as calamarata, paccheri, or rigatoni)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a handful of salt (about 1/4 cup).
  2. While the water is doing its job, place a large saucepan or separate Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the lemon and cook, using tongs to flip the slices, until they begin to brown slightly and shrivel, 6 to 8 minutes. Using the tongs, transfer the caramelized lemon slices to a bowl, leaving the oil in the pan.
  3. Drop the chickpeas into the oil and let them become a little crispy and golden, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. Add the shallot and crush the rosemary to release its oil and place it in the pot. Season with salt and plenty of pepper and stir everything together. Cook until the shallot begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until almost al dente, about 2 minutes less than the packet suggests (it will finish cooking in the sauce).
  4. Just before the pasta is al dente, collect 2 cups of cooking water. Add 1 1/2 cups cooking water to the pan with the chickpeas and bring to a boil, still over medium heat. (It may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will thicken once the remaining ingredients are added.) A piece at a time, stir in the butter until the pasta water and butter are just combined. a.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the sauce. Cook, stirring often and gradually sprinkling with Parmesan. (Do not add the cheese all at once, as this can split the sauce and become grainy.) Continue to stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta, about 3 minutes . If the sauce seems too thick, add more pasta water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time to thin it out (but be aware that a thicker sauce is ideal as it will thicken as it cools). Turn off the heat and stir in the caramelized lemon. Sprinkle with an almost ridiculous amount of pepper and more Parmesan cheese before serving.

Rose Thorne is associate editor at Healthline Nutrition. A 2021 graduate of Mercer University with a degree in journalism and women’s and gender studies, Rose has bylines for Business Insider, The Washington Post, The Lily, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and more. The professional accomplishments of which Rose is most proud include being editor of a college journal and working for Fair Fight Action, the national suffrage organization. Rose covers the intersections of gender, sexuality and health, and is a member of the Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists and the Association of Trans Journalists.. You can find Rose on Twitter.