A Simple Summer Chickpea Salad

It’s getting hot in Pune. Unbearably hot. The kind of hot that makes heavy eating, and standing over the stove for too long, a real chore.

I tend to feel sluggish in the warmer months if I eat heavy foods and spicy curries- so chicken curry and sambhar are replaced with pachadi and curd rice. And on many days, we eat salad.

What I love about salads are that they’re pretty forgiving creatures, as long as you have an open mind. There are no must-have or can’t-use ingredients. You can use all kinds of vegetables & herbs, proteins & carbohydrates, nuts & grains to create a really filling, tasty meal-in-a-bowl. Fattoush and panzanella make use of bread, som tam and the Waldorf make use of fruits and nuts, while a classic caeser and nicoise put eggs and fish to good (and delicious!) use.

When I make my salads as a meal, I need to have some form of protein in it. Unfortunately, I am neither Rachel Allen nor Nigella Lawson, so I rarely never have leftover meat from a Sunday roast in the form or chicken strips and beef shreds. So my protein of choice is either canned tuna or kabuli chana, which is a staple in most Indian pantries.

The only cooking this salad requires is boiling the chickpeas- but you are more than welcome to use canned chickpeas. I often pressure-cook a batch of chickpeas (two cups) on Sunday and store them in the fridge for salad or hummus during the week.

So this salad came together on a weekday when it was too hot to cook. It’s simple, and light on the stomach but still keeps you sated. I like adding some kind of nut or seed to my salads this days- they add a lovely bite and crunch, plus they are really good for you. If I’m using almonds, I just soak them and use them raw. With peanuts, I like to toast them lightly in their skin and crush them before adding in. And watermelon and sesame seeds I just sprinkle over the top as they are; though toasting them would be a nice touch.

SUMMER CHICKPEA SALAD

INGREDIENTS

For The Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Garlic salt, celery salt or store-bought Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For The Salad

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 2 medium cucumbers, chopped
  •  8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into half moons
  • A fistful each of chopped mint and coriander (optional)
  • A fistful of pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds or any seeds of your choice. You could also use some soaked raw almonds. (This is also optional.)

METHOD

  • To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until evenly combined. Adjust for salt-sweetness-acidity as per your liking, and set aside.
  • For the salad, add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. (Use your hands, use tongs, use your kids toy spade, it doesn’t matter!)
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well again and serve.

Cookbooks I Am Coveting

So I haven’t been cooking anything interesting except my kale skillets and sambar and humble dal-roti-sabzi. Nothing interesting or exciting enough to post here!

But I have been adding things to my ever-growing Amazon wishlist. It’s what I do. Even Nigella Lawson admits it; some of her recipes are a result of what she calls her bad “Amazon habit,” trolling the site at night and clicking on one book recommendation after another. Well, I do the same, digitally thumbing-through cookbooks to see what they have to offer. These are a few I am dying to get my hands on!

images courtesy | mynewroots.org/annajones.co.uk/harpercollins.co.uk

courtesy | mynewroots.org/annajones.co.uk/harpercollins.co.uk

My New Roots by Sarah Britton

We all get lost down the social media rabbit hole (I know I’ve been using the term a lot, but there really is no other way to put it,) and while some of those falls leave you feeling disappointed and irritable (how did she lose all that baby weight in a month?! She gets to travel aaalll over, boohoo,) some social media black holes can actually be quite delightful. My New Roots was one such discovery. After going through Patrick J Adams’ Instagram list, I discovered My New Roots, an account he follows. I clicked, clicked, clicked again and never looked back. Sarah B is a holistic nutritionist, and what I love about her site- apart from the great recipes and beautiful photography- is how much knowledge she shares about ingredients and different kinds of foods. She goes in-depth about the benefits of buckwheat, goat’s milk, bee pollen, farro and more, without getting all textbookish. Her nutrition background + training as a vegetarian chef will make this book a great resource for plant-based eating.

A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones

I first came across this book during my weekly check-in at 101 Cookbooks. I love Heidi’s approach to food, and when she recommended this book, I had to take a closer look. Anna Jones has worked with Jamie Oliver and follows a less is more approach, with Californian inspiration. The book is dedicated to clean, meat-free eating: something I like and something I’m trying to do more of this year. Plus, the book comes with charts on how to combine flavours, textures and techniques to create variations of the same “hero” ingredient. I think this would be a wise investment to go deeper into clean, plant-heavy eating.

Eat.Nourish.Glow. by Amelia Freer

This one has been getting a LOT of buzz ever since the dapper Sam Smith posted his love for author Amelia Freer on his Instagram account, but I became a fan prior to the Smith-stamp. I read an article about Hemsley+Hemsley on Get The Gloss, and discovered Amelia Freer on the site. Freer champions a diet rich in whole foods, healthy fats and fresh organic produce- but the book isn’t just recipes, it’s a manifesto and guide for eating well and understanding nutrition. And as someone who wants to learn more about the nutritional value of the food I’m cooking, I’ll definitely be getting this one.

images courtesy | food52.com/anthropologie.com

courtesy | food52.com/anthropologie.com

Food52 Genius Recipes

Food52 is my go-to source for when I don’t know what to make. If I have an ingredient and want to do something different with it, I go to Food52 and do a quick search. If I’m looking for a way to make pasta not boring, it’s Food52 again.

I love their Genius Recipes column, curated and written by Kristen Miglore. The column focuses on the best way to prepare an ingredient or dish or dishes up a new way to make an old favourite even better. From tips to creating a silky grilled cheese that won’t burn, to the science behind Nigella Lawson’s no-cook pasta sauce, the column is wonderfully written. Diverse recipes to suit every palate, and techniques that will make you a better and more resourceful cook. When the column is this good, how can one not buy the book?

Paris Pastry Club by Fanny Zanotti

I’m a sucker for cookbooks that are more than just cookbooks- the kind that are part-memoir with some stories thrown in. I came across the book recommendation on Amazon, and since there’s a part of me that still wants to eat cake for breakfast, I thumbed through it. Further internet scouting brought me to some of her articles. Zanotti is an accomplished pastry chef with strong French influences, and her writing style is warm and inviting. This sampling from The Guardian made me sure that I’d want to pick up this book at some point.

Garlicky Kale & Bulgur Skillet

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So for the longest time I scoffed at kale. I thought it was a pretentious hippie+hipster superfood that people only ate because it was trendy. (I still feel that way about quinoa and chia seeds-but that’s also because they are both so so expensive at health food and gourmet shops here.)

So anyway. I’ve saw it everywhere, from Martha Stewart to Goop to Food Pleasure Health and of course, Yum Universe and One Part Plant. One of my reasons for being so wary of kale was the fact that I just couldn’t find it easily in Mumbai. But in Pune, you do find it at the market. I finally ordered it after signing up with Green Tokri, they grow the pebbly lacinato variety.

Since that first order of kale, it’s been a staple every week. I’ve played around with it quite a bit. So far, I’ve managed to:

  • Juice it;
  • Add it to scrambled eggs;
  • Wilt it into soup;
  • Bake it;
  • Fry it;
  • Eat it raw.

I love the deep green hue and how it turns almost jewel-toned sauteed in olive oil. I love separating the leaves from the stalks, like this, in one fluid motion. I love massaging kale with olive oil for a salad.

So yes. I’m late to the party, but now, I realllyreally love kale, to the point where it is probably getting nauseating for my friends who hear me go on and on about it on social media.

image courtesy | funnytimes.com

image courtesy | funnytimes.com

I am turning into that annoying person, who waxes eloquent about kale. Who has suddenly discovered #cleaneating and hashtags it all the time. Who puts her green juice in a green cup with a green straw. (True story.) I have turned into the woman who is so smitten with kale, you want to throw a bag of Doritos at her and say STFU, we get it. Now go chew on something else. I have fallen into the kale abyss, and it’s leafy cushiony goodness means I’m not going to stop publicizing my love any time soon.

Self-deprecation aside, kale is packed with nutrients and is really good for you, so if you can get your hands on it, give it a try. It’s versatile and can be added to pretty much anything, from salad to soup to pasta, but I really enjoy it as a one-pot meal, with a grain, a protein and some seasoning. Unlike spinach, which wilts and softens easily, lacinato kale has more body and can hold up better, with a pleasant chew or crunch, depending on how long you sautee it. This one is an easy recipe, and if you’d like to add more bulk to it, you could top it with a fried egg or some chicken or tuna.

image courtesy | cartoonstock.com

image courtesy | cartoonstock.com

GARLICKY KALE & BULGUR SKILLET

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of bulgur, cooked
  • 1 cup kale, packed
  • ½ cup boiled chickpeas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli pepper or jalapeno, sliced
  • A handful of black olives, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Soaked raw almonds to garnish

METHOD

  • Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and allow it to soften.
  • Throw in the bulgur and stir till well-coated, then add the kale and sautee for about two minutes.
  • Add the cooked chickpeas, chilli, olives, salt and pepper, and stir-fry for a few minutes until the kale softens and crisps up a little.
  • Garnish with the raw almonds, squeeze some lime over, and you’re done!