Tag Archives: chickpeas

Cucumber salad with lemon feta dressing

Yes, another salad post. It’s funny, last year I remember having to make an effort to remember to make salads for lunch, but this summer they’re my default. I credit (or blame?) the weather. Last July I was wearing wool tights to work, this morning I dared myself to go bare-legged and I did not regret it. Not exactly Mark Twain’s San Francisco.

This week’s salad is a fairly classic Greek-inspired combination, with a few twists. I’ve recently become hooked on sun-dried olives and have been picking up a small container whenever I happen to drop by the Persian grocery. These olives are pungent and salty, with a softer texture than their fresh cousins. They’re also a little messy–make this salad too far in advance and you’ll find your cucumbers stained a deep brown!

The feta based dressing is what really makes the salad. Mixing the feta with olive oil, mustard and dill makes for a creamy and tangy blend, which works well with the cool crispness of the cucumber (how’s that for alliteration?). Although I’m also a fan of simply adding chunks or crumbles of feta to salad, I do like the guarantee of feta in every mouthful that you get with this dressing.

Some notes about ingredient volumes/servings. As written, I would consider this salad more of a “side” than a main dish, but I have been enjoying it as my main meal at lunch as well by tweaking the proportions a little. If I’m doing this salad as a main dish for one, I’ll increase the chickpeas, and often add a chopped boiled egg as well. Recently I packed this salad for the office and tried mashing the egg yolk into a spoonful of dressing. Delicious!

Cucumber salad with lemon feta dressing
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the dressing
2 oz feta cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried dill

For the salad
2 large cucumbers, peeled, cut in quarters lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into ~1/2″ slices
2 c. chickpeas
1/2 c. sundried black olives, pitted and sliced into quarters

Method

1. In a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade, combine all dressing ingredients and blend thoroughly.

2. Mix together cucumber and chickpeas. Just before serving, add the olives and dressing. Toss together to ensure and even coating of dressing throughout the salad.

Sesame kale salad

I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately. Really, since January, when the market started tempting me with rock bottom prices on massive bags of mixed greens. Those went out of vogue and I moved onto un-green salads, mixing up ingredients like lentil sprouts, roasted vegetables (no need to bother with dressing!), and copious amounts of cucumber and tomato (especially as proper tomato season has started again. I ate a cherry tomato from our patio garden this week and wondered why I had let myself slip back to buying those sad, sad romas over the winter). My current love is darker greens, like today’s salad.

One of the challenges with packing a salad is keeping the greens from getting soggy, slimy, and generally unappetizing. The common trick is, of course, to keep your greens dry: invest in a salad spinner, and don’t add dressing until you are ready to eat. Another option is going with a sturdier green. Kale is a great base for a lunch salad–you can massage the dressing into the greens and assemble the salad completely the night before, then pack it up and add a piece of fruit for a perfect grab and go lunch the next morning:


You can see I like to add a boiled egg sometimes also to make it more of a stand-alone meal.

Earlier this year, there was a lot in the news about kale being a goitrogenic food. The goitrogenic properties of kale are particularly high when kale is raw, so I will add the caveat that I’m not planning on eating this salad daily all summer (delicious as it is, I’m sure I’d tire of it eventually at that frequency!). I will also add that you can make a very nice warm salad with lightly cooked (and thus presumably less goitrogenic) kale by mixing everything except the onion and microwaving for 30-60 seconds. Then add the onion back in.

If you are going to make this recipe as a salad for packed lunches, my suggestion is to prep all the ingredients on Sunday afternoon: make the dressing, chop and measure everything else. Then assemble individual salads as needed. I’ve put the amount of ingredients needed for the full four servings below, but also included the amount needed for a single serving in parentheses, to facilitate night-by-night assembly.

Sesame Kale Salad
Serves 4

For the dressing
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp tamari sauce
splash of balsamic vinegar

For the salad
1 batch (2 tbsp) sesame dressing
1 lb (4 oz) kale, sliced into thin strips
1/2 (a few slices) red onion, sliced thin
3 c. (3/4 c.) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. (1 tbsp) chopped walnuts
4 (1) tsp. sesame seeds
Optional: 4 (1) hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1. Mix dressing ingredients together in a bottle or jar and shake to combine.

2. Place kale in a bowl and add dressing. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. You want to really squeeze and soften the kale, don’t be timid.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, toss, and serve. Salad can be refrigerated overnight if needed.

Middle eastern dip trio

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One of my errands last Friday (in addition to rummaging around the thrift store) was to the Persian grocery store. I don’t go to this place too often (it’s just a little bit out of the way, and only really useful to us for a few specialty items), so every time I go I seem to get sucked into wandering around staring at things. The store basically has: a huge selection of bread (pita, lavash, and the like), a huge selection of bagged teas, a huge selection of faux-British cookies (chocolate digestive biscuits, etc., but with Arabic text on the wrappers), an awful lot of olive and grapeseed oils. Filling out the offerings are things like pomegranate molasses (multiple varieties, natch), dried beans, yogurt and kefir, and, of course, tahini:

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This 4lb jar is actually not the largest size on offer, there is an 8lb iteration as well. I go back and forth as to whether or not it’s worth the extra savings to size up but keep going with the 4lb jar. Something about buying 8lbs of tahini for a two-person household just seems like it would be crossing a line. Still, even at 4 lbs, buying in bulk is definitely worth it: this jar is $17, or $4.25/lb. It’s been a while since I shelled out for a 1lb jar of tahini at Whole Foods or the health food store, but I’m pretty sure they cost at least $6 or $7. Bulk purchasing for the win, again.

So what am I going to actually do with all that tahini I hauled home? I have lots of uses for it, but a favorite means of disposal is in hummus, or blended with eggplant to make baba ghanoush:

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Saturday evening we had a party to go to, and I put together this little dip trio to bring, along with a plate of raw veggies for dipping. I’ve been trotting variations of this dip platter out for quite some time, check out this vintage 2009 batch (with toasted pita wedges, also yum) as proof of its enduring nature:

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Really, I’m still amazed at how impressive people find a nicely arranged platter of something really, really, almost embarrassingly easy to make.

While hummus and baba ghanoush are traditionally served as dips or spreads, I find they also make a great dressing for salad or even (in the case of hummus especially) roasted vegetables like peppers or zucchini. Just thin out with a little water or extra lemon juice.

And, it should go without saying, but just because all three of these recipes are presented in one post, doesn’t mean you have to make them all at once. But if you’re going to a party, you really should.

Hummus times two, plus baba ghanoush

Ingredients
For plain hummus
2 c. cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. tahini
1/4 c. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

For red pepper variation
same ingredients as for regular hummus, plus two red peppers

For baba ghanoush
2 medium eggplants (about 2.5 lbs)
1/3 c. tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin
pinch of chile powder
2-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Method

1. If making red pepper hummus or baba ghanoush, you’ll first need to roast your pepper or eggplant. To do this, I like to place the vegetable in question under the broiler in the oven, then turn every 5 minutes or so until the exteriors are charred and the flesh is soft. For peppers, the time in my oven is typically 15-20 minutes. Eggplants are closer to 30 minutes. Once the pepper or eggplant is roasted, allow to cool, then peel off the skin. If you are using red peppers, slice them open and discard the seeds and white ribs (also discard the stems, for either peppers or hummus). Chop into coarse pieces.

2. For any of the dips: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt, or tahini as needed.

Other variations:

Try using roasted garlic instead of raw for a more subtle and slightly sweet flavor (you may want to use more garlic in this case as the flavor is mellowed by roasting).

Add a spoonful or two of yogurt for an extra creamy texture and tanginess

“Mediterranean Hummus” (a la Trader Joe’s): top with finely chopped fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts

Roasted tomato hummus: Roast 1-2 tomatoes in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Peel and blend into plain hummus.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper for an extra spicy dip

Packed lunch: eggplant for the win

Ever since Mark Bittman got on the less-meat bandwagon a few years back, I’ve been following his writing with interest (before that, I’ll confess, not so much). I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but who do you always agree with? But back in August he penned an article that I completely and wholeheartedly agree with, on the topic of packing lunch from home. While I don’t always manage to bring a packed lunch with me to the office, I do try to make it a regular habit. Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to make lunch more of a workday high point, packing a little bento box and hunting out new outdoors spots for eating. Since I’m sure I’m not the only person who occasionally wants to bust their lunch out of a rut, I thought I’d start a little series to share some of my lunches. I’d love to get some comments on your favorite lunch ideas too!

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Getting ready to tuck in: Lunch and reading (a vintage Phillipa Gregory, Earthly Joys. Gregory is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this one didn’t catch me as much as her Tudors and Plantagenets books).

As bento boxes go, mine is fairly simple, a stainless steel Lunchbots Duo with two compartments. The box looks quite small compared to the collection of plastic containers that have held my lunches in the past, but it actually holds plenty of food. I like having the divider so that I can pack a multi-part meal like the one above. For this meal, I started with two leftover dinner dishes: half a twice cooked eggplant in spicy ginger sauce, and a small serving of coconut cauliflower rice. Then I added some ingredients I had made on Sunday and earmarked specifically for lunches. The eggplant was chopped and mixed with steamed kale and a small spoonful of spicy peanut sauce, while the cauliflower rice got a protein boost from a cupful of chickpeas. I finished it all off with a black plum (I keep thinking stone fruit season is about to end, but the market delivered these as the latest delicious proof of my wrongness).

How did it all go down? The cauliflower rice and chickpeas were good, but would have been better served at room temperature rather than very recently removed from the fridge. Something to remember for another day, right? On the other side of the box, the eggplant and kale mixture was fantastic, perfect for eating cold. I can definitely see the eggplant becoming a lunchtime star in the future, with the potential to dress up all manner of plainer vegetables and elevate salads to a whole new level.

And now, I’m off to pack up tomorrow’s lunch. Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot!

What we ate: out in the woods

This past weekend, we packed up our backpacks and made a break for the Sierras, where we spent the weekend in a rustic old cabin next to this little lake:

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The weekend was full of good times, with lots of hiking, card games, lounging around reading, and of course, eating some good food. Continue reading What we ate: out in the woods

Kale, Coconut and Chickpea Salad (Super Natural Every Day)

Coconut Kale salad

After having it on my mental “find a copy” list for ages, I finally got my hands on a copy of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it was well worth the (entirely self-imposed by busy-ness/laziness) wait.   Continue reading Kale, Coconut and Chickpea Salad (Super Natural Every Day)

Chickpea and scallion fritters

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I often like to make a big batch of beans on the weekend and then eat them throughout the week. A few Saturdays ago I found myself staring down the ends of a batch of chickpeas and thinking about what else to do with them. These tasty little fritters were the result. The combination of chickpea and egg make them relatively high in protein, perfect for my current project of boosting protein consumption (>15% of calories is my personal threshold for “high protein”).
Continue reading Chickpea and scallion fritters