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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and barbeque is king. No doubt you’ve seen more than enough burger recipes in the past 48 hours; don’t worry, that’s not what I’m sharing today. No, no. I’m here for the vegetarians and the newly-minted lessmeatarians. Let’s make sure they (um, we) are well cared for this holiday weekend. And, while there are approximately several thousand potluck-friendly vegetarian recipes, another never hurts. Because we all know Monday’s side dishes will be Tuesday’s tupperware lunch and Wednesday’s leftover dinner. So let’s make’em good, shall we?

If you make nothing else this weekend, you’ll be in great shape with this chickpea salad. It is dead simple to make, people. Embarrassingly so. I soaked and cooked fresh chickpeas, but if we’re being perfectly honest, there’s no need to go to all the fuss. Canned are absolutely fine here. And I know I often say what follows, but that’s because it’s true: this recipe is by no means set in stone. It can be altered in any number of ways, a few of which I list here. Don’t get hung up if you’re missing one or two of the ingredients. Green garlic can swap out for regular garlic, scallions for red onions, cumin seeds for the ground stuff, anardana for sumac, and now I’ll stop listing. If all you’ve got is chickpeas, cumin, feta, and lemon juice, you’re 90% of the way there. And while I’m sure tomatoes would be great in this salad the first time around, I really can’t stand them once their refrigerated, as leftovers always are, so I’ve left them out. Feel free to add them back in, if you’d like. If you’re cooking vegetarians, lessmeatarians, or plain ole’ people who can’t eat just burgers for 48 hours straight (yes, I recognize that that’s not an all-inclusive category), I guarantee this chickpea salad will please across the board.

Also, because this should never go without saying: let’s all take a couple moments this weekend to recognize those who have given their time, their energy, and their lives in service to our country. Our freedom owes in no small measure to their sacrifices. Say thanks with words, say thanks with chickpea salad; either way, let’s all show our gratitude.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
heavily adapted from a recipe in the New York Times

1 pound chickpeas, soaked and cooked; if using canned, rinse
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 scallions, chopped (can substitute1/4 red onion, chopped)
1/4 cup small kalamata or greek olives, halved (optional)
1 medium-sized hunk (about 4 ounces) feta cheese, cubed
a handful various herbs, roughly chopped (I used thyme, tarragon, mint, and dill; basil and parsley would also be great)

juice and zest 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (can substitute balsamic)
1 bulb and stem of green garlic, chopped (can substitute 1 clove regular garlic, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant (can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin)
1/2 teaspoon anardana powder (dried crushed pomegranate seed; can substitute 1/2 teaspoon sumac)
2 tablespoons yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium serving bowl, combine chickpeas, pepper, onion, olives, feta, and herbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine lemon, red wine vinegar, green garlic, cumin seeds, anardana, and yogurt. Mix with a fork until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over salad and mix to distribute. Serve. (Salad will keep for several days.)

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  • That looks marvelous! I love chickpeas and can’t get enough summery salads. Perfect with a side of baguette. 🙂


  • Nina May 28, 2010,

    Anardana powder? Sumac? Where would I find these in our grocery store? I’ve never seen either in the spice aisle.

    The recipe looks great, and I’ll be making it (with or without anardana and/or sumac!) for tomorrow’s potluck!

    • rivka May 28, 2010,

      Hey Nina, glad you like the recipe! Anardana can be found at an Indian grocer, and I know Whole Foods carries sumac. If you don’t have those, you can just add a squeeze more lemon juice and the tiniest bit of honey. Enjoy!

  • Chaya June 1, 2010,

    Rivka, this was delicious. It required only a little more effort than my usual thrown-together chickpea salad, and I got to make use of some of the herbs from my garden. Embarrassingly, even though I live in Israel and can get it anywhere, I didn’t have sumac. Next time!

    I’m about to soak a big pot of chickpeas to make a double recipe tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • rivka June 3, 2010,

      Chaya, so glad you enjoyed the recipe!