One of the main reasons that I’ve come to enjoy blogging so much is the incredible range and variety of ideas that get shared and exchanged via comments here, and in reading and commenting on other blogger’s posts as well. Honestly, there are so many terrific sounding recipes out there that I want to try, and I know I will never get to them all. But each and every one informs and inspires me in some way…informs my thought processes in planning meals, in buying and growing food, and inspires my creative efforts in the kitchen. As I rapidly approach my first year of blogging, I realize that this process has become an integral part now of who I am and how I operate.
And here’s a perfect example of this process in action.
A few weeks ago I read a post from a fellow blogger that tantalized my tastebuds and tickled my imagination. That post was from the talented Charles of Five Euro Food (isn’t that a great premise and blog name?) and it was an easy recipe called Garlic and Cumin Roasted Chickpeas, a little snack he whipped up one day while on holiday, and because of a desire to create a healthy munchie.
Now as it so happened at the time, I’d been searching for a roasted chickpea recipe for snacking purposes, and wanted one with some real pizzaz because chickpeas can be a little bland on their own, in my opinion. And suddenly there was Charles’ post…I could just taste how good these would be and couldn’t wait to try them! The result was a truly tasty and quite spicy little snack that both my husband and I really enjoyed…and enjoyed, and enjoyed!
But wait! Even though these were so wonderful on their own and also as part of mezze the next night, I kept thinking how great they’d be as an ingredient with something else…something to play with all these great flavors, including the roasted garlic. ‘Hmmm,’ I thought, ‘these are pretty substantial little bits, and therefore would be a nice way to add some protein and heft to a light dish.’ That’s when it hit me. But of course, why not use these as a component of a Mediterranean-inspired salad?
And so my salad was born. It was built around all my favorite flavors in a Greek salad, and ideas from other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean salads, but very much enhanced by the spicy profile of the chickpeas and the toasty garlic. And wow, what a salad this makes, my friends. A very satisfying vegetarian meal on a plate, with a real flavor explosion going on.
We enjoyed this salad for dinner, feeling quite satisfied, and no meat was needed or missed. I could eat this almost every day! And it was all inspired, and much more than that, MADE by Charles’ amazing chickpea recipe. So thank you Charles, for your recipe and your inspiration! These chickpeas are now one of our favorite snacks and one we’d serve to guests, as well as a component of our new favorite salad. They’re as easy to make as the glazed red pepper and fennel almonds recipe, and equally as versatile to use as a springboard or an enhancement to other dishes. Give both these recipes a try and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
A Marvelously Mediterranean Salad with Garlic and Cumin Roasted Chickpeas
Makes two salads, can be doubled
2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups baby arugula leaves
1 large roma or other tomato, sliced, then slices halved
10 brined black, green or mixed Mediterranean or Greek olives, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup thinly sliced English cucumber, slices halved
2 oz. crumbled good quality feta cheese
4 thin slices of red onion
1/3-1/2 cup of Garlic and Cumin Roasted Chickpeas
1 generous Tablespoon of fresh finely chopped oregano
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons of good quality olive oil
Layer the salad ingredients, except for the chickpeas, in the order listed above, dividing evenly between two plates. In a bowl or glass jar, combine the salad dressing ingredients, whisking or shaking to emulsify, then pour the dressing evenly over the two salads. Top with the chickpeas and garlic, dividing evenly, and dig in! This is also great with a little nan or pita bread on the side for sopping up any juices.