Marinated Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Kale from Company by Amy Thielen

I’m back to reviewing some of the new and “best” cookbooks of 2023.  Today’s review is of Company by Amy Thielen.

About the book:

One of Food & Wine’s Best Cookbooks of Fall 2023

From beloved writer and cook Amy Thielen comes a year of inventive recipes and twenty menus for the “let’s do it at my house” set—and those who aspire to it.

In her much-anticipated follow-up to The New Midwestern Table, Amy writes, “no one will ever care about the food as much as you and I do.” Company will have you rethinking the way you entertain, throwing dinner parties that are less formal, more frequent, and as fun for the cook as for the guests. Preaching leniency, not-guilty pleasures, and the art of making it in advance, Amy soothes the most common party anxieties one by one. Her reflections on writing menus, produce shopping, and how to time a meal are novel but timeless. Not afraid of meat (but obsessed with vegetables), these 125 loyal recipes are arranged in menu form—from intimate dinner parties to larger holiday feasts to parties that serve up to twenty.

With a feast of gorgeous photography and plenty of down-in-the-pan cooking nerdery, Company encourages a return to the habit, and the joy, of cooking for family and friends.

About the author:

Amy Thielen is a two-time James Beard award-winning writer and chef. She’s the author of three books: The New Midwestern Table, Give a Girl a Knife (a memoir), and her latest cookbook, Company: The Radical Art of Cooking for Others—out August 29 from W.W. Norton.

Born and raised in northern Minnesota, she graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English and then spent two years living in an off-grid cabin near her hometown, gardening and short-order cooking at a diner on Main Street (naturally.) In 1999, she moved to New York City to go to culinary school and cook professionally. After completing what can only be described as a culinary tour of duty through Manhattan’s top fine dining kitchens, she moved back home to Minnesota in 2009 and began writing. Her cooking show, Heartland Table, co-produced by Random House Television and Lidia Bastianich’s Tavola Productions, premiered on Food Network in 2013 and ran for two seasons.

A former contributing editor at Saveur, Amy has written for and been featured in Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Food52, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, and appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, Minnesota Public Radio, The Splendid Table, and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. Amy speaks to organizations and nonprofits about home cooking, writing, and rural foodways, and volunteers locally to support access and engagement in the fine arts. In her spare time, she can be found weeding her vegetable and flower gardens, talking on the phone in her kitchen, and of course on the internet. She lives in northern Minnesota with her family—visual artist Aaron Spangler, their son Hank, and their dog, Hilly.

What I thought…

First of all, I totally spaced that she had written Give a Girl a Knife until a copied her bio from her website.  I remember that reviews of her memoir weren’t stellar but I gave it a four on GoodReads in 2020.

Secondly, I seem to be on a Midwestern theme lately.  (See my recent post regarding the novel Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club.)   Again, I grew up decidedly south of the Midwestern states but there’s something about the neighborliness and the rural, rustic setting that Theilen describes in her cookbook that I can identify with.  She is prone to cook and host planned and impromptu dinners for neighbors (which includes anyone within a twenty mile radius).

Company is a very practical and no nonsense way to entertaining even though Theilen steers clear of the “E-word.”  (This is not your mother’s Martha Stewart entertainment bible.)  Her take on entertaining is realistic; dinner parties aren’t perfect and good ones aren’t.  “They hit both high notes and low notes.  They swing.  The missteps make us human, and cause the understanding to flow around the table, unbroken, like good conversation” (10).

Company is an old fashioned cookbook.  ” Individual recipes are modern; menus are hopelessly analog” (9).   The book is full of these analog but inventive menus.

I love a cookbook that includes menus and always have.  I have a number of Junior League cookbooks that include menus but Company is composed almost solely of  “ordinary” yet festive ones, a lot relying on what is local and seasonal.

Her “Family Brunch Around the Fire Pit” sounds so inviting (and entertaining):

  • Orange Julius with basil
  • Grilled garlic bread with bacon fat and smeared tomato
  • Potato tortilla
  • Smoked sausages with mustard-miso sauce and arugula
  • Muskmelon caprese

I am imagining rifts on this menu with what I can source.   That would be my only complaint with the book.  Some of the recipes are out of reach for me because I couldn’t procure the ingredients.  But, one can always modify.

Regardless, this is a great gift book for someone who entertains.  (Sorry, I used the “E-word.”)

Since we have had our first hard freeze, the t-shirts and shorts have been stowed away, and my closet is full of sweaters again, I wanted to make something warming and fall-like.  This “salad” had me as soon as I looked at the ingredient list.

Marinated Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Kale

Slightly adapted from Company by Amy Thielen

I used what was on hand and modified just a bit by using kale instead of Swiss chard.  I also decreased the carrots but added some celery.


  •  1 lb.  dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover generously (Probably to the top of your soaking bowl.)
  • 1 whole head garlic, plus 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 bay leave ( I used 3/4 ground bay powder.)
  • 4 dried hot chiles  (I used Thai chiles)
  • 1 t. plus ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ t. baking soda (optional)
  • ¾ cup extra-​virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions, cut into large dice (3 cups)
  • 3 carrots, cut into large dice
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 T. hot pepper flakes
  • 1½ T. tomato paste
  • 1½ t. sweet paprika
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 2 t. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 5 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ t. honey
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, trimmed and cut into large bite-​sized pieces


  1. Drain the soaked chickpeas, and put in a pot with water to cover by 3 inches.
  2. Rub the excess paper from the head of garlic, trim its root end to remove any dirt and lop off the top ½-inch to expose the cloves. Add the garlic to the pot, along with the bay leaves, chiles and 1 teaspoon of the salt; bring the water to a boil; and boil for a few minutes, skimming off the rising foam. Reduce the heat to hold a consistent simmer, partially cover the pot and cook until the chickpeas are tender to the bite but still holding tight in their skins, 1½ to 2 hours. If they’re not beginning to soften after 1½ hours, add the baking soda. When the chickpeas are tender, remove them from the heat. They can sit in their cooking liquid for up to 2 hours at the back of the stovetop.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large high-​sided sauté pan over medium-​high heat, and add ½ cup of the olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions turn light golden brown at the edges, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, raise the heat, and cook until the corners of the carrots bronze and take on a rounded-​shoulder look, about 8 minutes; they should be crisp-​tender and slightly resistant to a bite at the center. (This dish will be served warm or, more likely, at room temperature, and no one wants to confront mushy leftover-​from-​dinner carrots in a lemony vinaigrette; what you want are cooked, sprightly “salad carrots.”)
  4. By this time, you should have a coppery, oily base at the bottom of the pan. Add the hot pepper flakes and sliced garlic, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 1 minute, stirring, until the garlic is tender. Add the tomato paste, both paprikas and the rosemary; raise the heat to medium-​high; and stir until the tomato paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the white wine to deglaze, and bring everything to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release its flavor cache. Add the lemon juice, honey and the remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and simmer for a few minutes to thicken the liquid, then taste for seasoning. The sauce should hang in the balance between sweet and sour, offset by the round fattiness of the olive oil. Add salt as needed.
  6. Drain the chickpeas in a colander (discard the aromatics), and shake to rid them of excess moisture. Add them to the saute pan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the vinaigrette clings saucily to the chickpeas and they taste infused with the sauce, about 15 minutes. If the sauce is too tight, add a bit of water; if it’s too loose, reduce it further. (This is where, if you’ve got something more pressing to do, you can step away and leave the chickpeas to marinate.)
  7. When you’re ready to plate the salad, return the pan to medium heat, add the Swiss chard and fold it in. Cook very briefly, just long enough for the chard to buckle and start to wilt.
  8. Immediately spoon the chickpea mixture onto a wide platter, scraping all of the flavorful sauce over the top. It should seep around the salad in a shiny, rusty pool. This salad is as delicious warm as it is at room temperature. You can plate it up to an hour ahead; to refresh, spoon the pooling juices over the chickpeas.

Yield: 3 quarts

This dish smells delicious from start to finish.  I will always use these flavorings (bay, garlic, and Thai chiles) when cooking chickpeas.  From. Now. On. For. Ever.   Once that smoked paprika is added to the marinade, it is heaven.   I would love to adapt this recipe further but adding some Spanish chorizo and some chicken stock and turning this into an unctuous soup.

I’ve already highlighted Thielen’s homemade Boursin for my Halloween post.  I’ve copied her “Green Salad with Invisible Vinaigrette” (described as “the little black dress of salad dressings”).  I can’t wait to make this salad.

Add Company to your holiday wish list!  (I was good and did return it to the library.)


What’s next on the review list?

The Everlasting Meal Cookbook  by Tamar Adler.  It’s a keeper and I bought my own copy!  Stay tuned


I’m linking up with Foodies Read for November.


2 comments to Marinated Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Kale from Company by Amy Thielen

  • mae

    I hope you really vary your garbanzo recipes a bit in the future! They have so many good possibilities that it seems a shame to just do them one way forever. Besides a Midwestern take, there are a lot of ways to use them in Middle Eastern cuisines too.

    best, mae at

  • I think this salad will be a great starter to a holiday gathering. Thanks Debra.