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The Impromptu Larder

School’s out, and summer is upon us. In anticipation of lots of friends — my husband’s, mine, my children’s — dropping by, I’ve stocked my second refrigerator with bottles of rose, bubbly water and plenty of lemonade. And because I hate to be caught without delicious nibbles, I’m filling my pantry, freezer and fridge with foods that can be pulled out and served for any occasion.

Here’s what you’ll get if you unexpectedly stop by my place this summer. If friends have a habit of dropping by your place, consider stocking up on some of these snacks or whip up some of your favorites to have on hand. (But beware: You’ll be encouraging the behavior. And if you’re too good, friends of friends will be dropping by too!)

Come by in the morning:

I’ll pull out some madeleines or pre-sliced banana bread from the freezer to go with coffee. Otherwise, dark-chocolate Petits Ecoliers are always in the pantry.

Come at lunchtime:

I always keep a good, homemade vinaigrette on hand for dressing up greens.

If I don’t have greens, I’ll pull out some good canned tuna (packed in olive oil), cannellini beans from the pantry and some chives from the garden for a quick salad.

Or I’ll make a salad from the garden of tomatoes and a sprinkle of basil, mint or chives. We can top it with goat cheese or sliced mozzarella, some good olive oil (I love O Olive Oil’s Meyer lemon variety) and salt.

I also keep a few different salads in the refrigerator that can be served on their own or together as a composed salad:

Ratatouille, which can also fill an omelet or top greens or toasted bread

Marinated chickpeas

Lentils tossed with grilled vegetables, and maybe some nuts and goat cheese.

Because it’s summer, we might drink some cold rose.

Stop over at night:

The weather will be warm, so we’ll have a light meal made from the foods listed above. And we’ll definitely sip some rose.

The late Mireille Johnston, an authority on French cooking, has great recipes for easy summer food in her book on Provencal cooking, “The Cuisine of the Sun.” (It’s out of print now, but you can get used copies on Amazon. You can also buy “The Cuisine of the Rose,” for her Burgundian specialties.) I love her recipe for Marinated Chickpeas.

Pois Chiches Marines
(Chickpeas Simmered in White Wine and Herbs)

For 6 six expected or unexpected guests


3 tablespoons olive oil
5 small white onions, grated or minced
2 teaspoons thyme
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon peppercorns, roughly crushed
½ cup dry white wine
juice of 2 lemons
1 20-ounce can chickpeas


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onions, thyme, garlic, salt and peppercorns and saute for 5 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add them to the pan and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes over low heat.
  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Zester Daily contributor Christy Hobart is a food and shelter writer in Los Angeles.

Photo: Chickpeas Simmered in White Wine and Herbs
Credit: Christy Hobart

Zester Daily contributor Christy Hobart is a food and shelter writer in Los Angeles.