Marinated Chickpea and Red Onion Salad

The heat has been pretty unbearable this week. Our cats have been found in the tub, sprawled out against the white tile, trying to tell us that the air conditioning in our uninsulated apartment is insufficient. The fact that Roo and I can’t even sit on the same couch together without sweating, with the a/c on 60 degrees and the fan blowing full speed is kind of ridiculous.  Then again, living on the third floor of a triple decker that hasn’t had any work done to it since the beginning of time is also pretty ridiculous.

I felt especially bad when Monkey laid down on a Target bag that previously held a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The cool condensation trapped against a plastic bag was just too much temptation for our furry little ferret.

I was totally snarfing down ice cream as I took this photo. Bad owner.

Despite my previous protest of not making salad after salad this summer, I caved. I’ve been making salads for the past couple of days and Roo hasn’t said a word. He actually commented, “this is really good,” on several occasions, and my paranoia of him leaving me over lettuce has actually subsided. He’s even mentioned that he would definitely eat some of them again; this salad being one of them.

The key to this dish is the marinade and the almost pickling effect it has on the ingredients. Another positive is that this salad contains loads of protein, and many, many delicious components (don’t worry, it’s still simple, and easy to adjust what you want in it), that aren’t the usual horror show that’s the American salad seen in chain restaurantsIceberg lettuce, unripe, mealy tomatoes and cucumber slices that taste like raw wet cardboard?  No thanks.

Again, this was a ploy to use up a lot of what I received from my CSA.  But you know what?  It worked.  I really do love it when the stir-fry approach to dumping everything into a wok works when applied to chopping everything up and throwing it onto a plate for a salad.

Adapted from Saveur

Serves two to three generously

Ingredients

8 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

half teaspoon of dried oregano

half teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (I like things spicy, if you don’t start with a quarter teaspoon)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained or 1 can (12 – 15 ounces) of chickpeas drained, rinsed and drained again

1 cube of sharp cheddar cheese, two inches by two inches, cut into even smaller cubes *this is your salad, if you hate cheddar, go with something else, like provolone, and cut the pieces into what you’d like to have speared onto your fork along with the other veg*

1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into half, then cut into even smaller pieces (save the other half for a caprese salad or whatever your fancy)

1 red onion, sliced thinly (we love red onion and love lots and lots of it on our salad)

Half a head of lettuce, leaves torn into easily edible pieces (be sure to make your lettuce leaves as dry as possible!)

1 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn into easily edible pieces *you MUST use fresh basil! It really makes the salad special*

1 ear of cooked corn (either from the night before, or that day), cooled, and kernels cut off the cob

1 cucumber, about the length of your hand (from tip of middle finger to wrist), chopped

2 carrots, peeled and cut into easily edible pieces (I prefer stick form)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

Equipment

A very sharp knife

A small mixing bowl (if you have a set of three for mixing bowls, I use the smallest one for this recipe)

A whisk

A spatula

*Maybe a small pot (for chickpeas that have soaked overnight)

Whisk in your small mixing bowl the oil, vinegar, dried thyme and oregano, dijon mustard, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.

If you are using chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, make sure they’re soft enough.  If they’re not, throw the chickpeas in a small pot with water over a burner set on medium heat.  Bring the chickpeas to a boil, then back down to a simmer.  Sometimes I have to cook them for 30 minutes, sometimes an hour.  Check them periodically, and when they’re soft enough, drain the chickpeas, rinse them with cold water to cool them down a bit, and throw into your dressing bowl.

If you are using chickpeas from the can (or your overnight chickpeas are soft enough), after they have been rinsed and drained, throw them in your dressing bowl.  Add the mozzarella, sharp cheddar and onions.  Stir to combine everything so that it’s all coated with the dressing, with a spatula.  Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for about an hour, stirring once or twice in the meantime.

While you’re waiting, plate the (please be dry) lettuce, basil, cucumber, red pepper, carrots and corn on two (or three) plates for your meal.  I like the lettuce to be at the very bottom, topped with the basil, and then the other veg just thrown about on top.

When it’s time to eat (!) top the plates with the chickpea mixture.  I love to add cracked pepper on top, I can’t say why, but it just makes it so much better.

Try to pick up everything with your fork, or at least some basil, chickpea, cheese and <insert other veg here>.  Devour.  Like a lady of course.

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