Monday, May 19, 2008


There are some weeks so busy, so tiresome, so exhausting, that all you can do is eat as fast, filling and fatty a meal as possible. Then there are the days immediately following those days, when the traveling, late night, busy week haze has cleared and all that's left is you and your new paunch. I experienced this very thing towards the end of last week when, after a weekend of nothing but burgers and cheese fries while out of town, and a busy work week where I indulged in the delicious cafeteria comfort food one too many times, I finally felt all of the grease catch up with me. With a volleyball game looming on the horizon Thursday night, it was clear that I needed something on the lighter side, or there would be no getting me on the court.

I'm not a big fan of just having a salad for dinner, but I knew that if I crafted just the right one, I'd be satisfied, and maybe give myself a little energy boost before the game as well. I decided I'd turn to my favorite pantry staple of all time, the humble chickpea. I'm disappointed with chickpea salads about 95% of the time, so I figured I'd take a stab at making my own. Instead of adding too many nuts and veggies and all kinds of crazy chunkies, I decided to keep it super simple with just some minced pimento stuffed olives and a basic vinaigrette. I gave the dressing a little kick by adding some ground cumin and smoked paprika for a bit of spice. I thought about adding some jalapeƱos for heat, but in the end decided against it, reminding myself of just why I hate most chickpea salads--to many chunkies and too many flavors.

I made the dressing with a bit of lemon juice in the place of vinegar to brighten it up a bit, especially since we're about to get into summer. I even added a bit of zest and whisked it straight into the dressing. With a few pinches of salt and a bit of heat from several turns of cracked white pepper the salad was done and delicious. There was no cooking, just mixing and a little bit of chopping. Here's the recipe:

Chickpea and Olive Salad

1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
extra virgin olive oil (about 3-4 tsp)

1. In a bowl, combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice, cumin and paprika. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking until vinaigrette is formed.

2. Add chickpeas and olives to vinaigrette and toss to coat. Enjoy!


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