Chickpea, Feta and Basil Salad with a side of Gratitude

An easy little salad for all seasons…packed full of healthy and hearty goodness.

No matter the time of year, I love eating salad, and this particular one is a favorite. Featuring chickpeas, feta, red onion and fresh basil lightly dressed with a flavor-packed vinaigrette, this salad makes a great vegetarian meal by itself, or a tasty accompaniment to another veggie or meat dish. It’s hearty and comforting, and yes…healthy. And it’s so easy to make, what’s not to like about it?

I first tasted this salad years ago at a neighborhood health food restaurant and deli. For many years I’d go in and buy a little carton of this salad for my lunch, all the while thinking that I should just make some myself…but then seemed to never get around to it. Then one day I had a craving for this salad, had all the ingredients on hand and I finally constructed my own version of it which I not only love, but I think it’s even better than the restaurant’s version. I’ll let you be the judge!

But before we move on to the recipe, I need to take a moment to say some heartfelt thank you’s to a few of my fellow blogging friends who have bestowed their most kind words and honors on me lately. I don’t really participate in these awards anymore, but when someone is so kind as to think of me or mention me or my blog, it is such an honor that I feel I must take the time to show my appreciation, and I hope you’ll go and visit these folks and see why I think they are so very special, too.

First up is Chocolate Chip Uru from Go Bake Yourself—a quite brilliant and talented Aussie teenage (17!) baking wunderkind who epitomizes versatility by juggling school, family life, baking and blogging very successfully. She recently gave me the Versatile Blogger award, and if you’d like to see my answers to this award’s challenges you can check that out in a post from last fall right here. Thank you again, Uru, for your support and kind words and for all the truly scrumptious and decadent sweet treats you post! And to my readers…if you like sweets or baking at all…you ain’t seen nuthin’ until you go and check out this amazing gal’s site. You won’t be disappointed, in fact, you’ll be salivating all over your keyboard.

Next I need to thank the very creative Sawsan of Chef in Disguise for awarding me both the Versatile Blogger award and the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I just discovered Sawsan’s blog this past spring, and could only think to myself…where has she been all my blogging life? Talk about inspiring, she’s a most talented chef—disguised or otherwise—and an equally talented photographer who documents the process of making her lovely and delicious dishes in a very approachable and educational way. Hailing from Jordan, the food she makes is not only based on family and traditional middle eastern, Levantine and arabic recipes, but her dishes represent cultures from around the world. I’ve never seen anything on her blog that I wouldn’t want to eat, and that’s the highest praise I can give! Do please go and check her out for yourself.

And lastly, but not the least for sure, is a big thank you to the beautiful Karista from Karista’s Kitchen, who so kindly nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award. Karista is a professional personal chef and teacher whose every plate of food makes me not only want it, but feel like I can make it, too. In fact I’ve made a few of her recipes and they are always delicious and, well…beautiful! Her colors and flavors are so lively and perfectly balanced, and I can’t tell you how many recipes I have bookmarked to make. She lives on the west coast of the U.S. with her Ranger husband, and shares some of their ranging experiences from time to time as well. She’s also spent some time in my current home territory of Georgia, so she often can relate to some of my own ranging experiences, which is quite fun for me! But don’t just take my word for it, go and see her lovely food and site for yourself.

Applause please, and thanks again to all three of you for your kindness! You can also find these good folks…and me, of course, on Facebook and follow us there!

And now for today’s recipe:

A B C, it’s easy as 1 2 3, it’s simple as Do Re Me…

Chickpea, Feta and Basil Salad
(Makes about 6-8 servings)

2-15 oz. cans of chickpeas, low or no salt, drained and rinsed well
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin slices (chiffonade)
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, red onion and basil, then gently stir in the feta cheese. To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, tamari, lemon juice, salt and pepper, until well blended and emulsified. Pour the dressing over the chickpea, onion, basil and feta mixture and toss gently to coat all of the ingredients. You can serve immediately or place in the fridge for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. This keeps well for several days in the fridge.

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French Lentilicious

A Lentil Haiku (sort of)

Busy. Busy. Busy.
Quick lunch hour
(the market calls)

Scanning dry bins
de Puy French lentils here
$3.09/lb.??? Whoa.

Must. Have. Lentils.

Luscious little babies
Good for salad
Good with salmon
Good with grilled things
Good for you!

A recipe in mind
French Lentil Salad

Happiness.

Resting from last long post
more food soon
(wink!)

French Lentilicious Salad
(can be halved, full recipe will feed 8 as side portions)

For cooking the lentils:
2 cups dried green de Puy French lentils, carefully picked through for stones and rinsed (do not soak)
1/2 onion, peeled
1 whole clove garlic, peeled
1 carrot, washed, trimmed and cut into 3 inch chunks
1 stalk celery, washed, trimmed and cut into 3 inch chunks
4 cups low salt chicken broth, or you can use water

For the salad:
1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and finely diced
1 cup of finely diced celery, preferably hearts with a few leaves
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper

For the dressing:
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 generous teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a deep medium sized saucepan, combine the dry lentils, the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer/low boil and allow the lentils to cook until just tender, about 25 minutes, but test them at 20…you don’t want them mushy. When the lentils are done, drain the liquid, remove the solid onion, garlic, carrot and celery, and place the lentils into a bowl to cool a bit.

While the lentils are cooling, make your dressing. Combine the parsley, thyme, vinegar and dijon in a small bowl with a whisk. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking to emulsify. Season with the salt and pepper.

To the warm lentils, add the diced carrot, celery and red pepper, and stir gently to incorporate. Pour the whisked dressing over the salad, and stir gently to coat. You can serve immediately warm, or allow about 30 minutes for the flavors to develop and serve at room temperature, or serve it chilled. This is wonderful with a bit of grilled salmon served over it. We also enjoy it as a side dish to just about anything grilled, and as part of a veggie meal…you can’t go wrong! Will keep in the fridge for a few days.