The “I’ve Finally Had Enough Christmas Cookies” Chickpea Salad
Cookies, chili, more cookies, chicken bake, pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, more cookies, stuffing, booze balloons!, chocolate-covered pretzels, mashed potatoes, more cookies, beer, wedding soup, breakfast potatoes, and more cookies. (Not necessarily in that order). That about sums up our family’s holiday feasting.
Despite all the joy it brings, especially when 11 of us are gathered around the table to share it all, it’s time to let more nourishing foods reclaim our plates. Inspired by a spontaneous confession by E that her hands-down favorite food is chickpeas, today I put together a chickpea salad that I originally found at The Kitchn. This salad is chock full of veggies and protein, satisfies the post-holiday hunger, and tastes delightful. I only wish I could share it with you all at our big family table in Pittsburgh.
Warm Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Garlic
Recipe from: The Kitchn
- 3 tablespoons olive oil*
- 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 4 cups or 32 oz. chickpeas (garbanzo beans); if using canned, rinse & drain
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped*
- 3/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, finely minced
- Small handful fresh mint leaves, finely minced
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 3/4 pound English cucumber
- Flaky sea salt
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and crushed red pepper and stir constantly for about a minute. As the cumin seeds are toasted, they will start to fill your kitchen with a beautiful aroma.
- Turn the heat to medium low and add the garlic. Cook, stirringly frequently, for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic turn brown.
- Add chickpeas and chopped tomatoes and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas are warmed through and are shiny with oil. Then, turn off the heat and set the pan aside. NOTE: If your chickpeas have already been cooked (i.e., dried, soaked, then cooked), you may wish to add the tomatoes first, then add the chickpeas after a few minutes. You want all the flavors to soak into the beans, but you don’t want your beans overcooked!
- Toss in the finely minced parsley and mint.
- Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
- [Optional: Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape out (and discard) the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon.] Dice the cucumber into small, 1/2-inch square cubes and toss in the with the chickpea mixture.
- If needed (and it usually is), add flaky sea salt to taste.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.
*Note: This recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons olive oil and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. This turns out quite oily to me and I opt to use the same amount of olive oil and dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes (if I use oil-packed, I reduce the olive oil by at least 1 Tablespoon).
Some of you reading this recipe may recognize it, as I first tried my hand at making this back in October, when a number of siblings got together in Northern California. I have tried it a number of different ways since then. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is so adaptable to what you have in your cupboards, and can be served at any temperature.
On a sunny October day in Sonoma, 5 of us enjoyed this dish chilled – I had reduced the oil and added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes as well. This dish complimented a bottle of white wine, and we dreamed about how good the salad might be with some fresh shrimp tossed in.
Today, a chillier day in December, I’m serving this warm, and added in what I had on hand (swapping in sliced zucchini for the cucumber, swapping chives for mint and parsley, and tossing in some diced chicken breast).
I encourage you to give this a try, and add in changes of your own if you’re feeling adventurous. This unexpected dish may just become a staple at your house – and who knows - it may find a spot next to the chili in Pittsburgh next year!