Sunday, June 18, 2006

Warm chickpea salad with onions and lemon juice

We've decided to clear out some of our older kitchen stores, and thus last night my SO cooked up a pound of dried chickpeas. We weren't sure what to do with them, and after looking at a number of recipes online (and in our cookbooks), we didn't find anything that struck our fancy. We were hungry, however, so we decided to just average a few of the recipes together and toss the chickpeas with some garlic, onions, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Prior to having this dish, my SO and I believed the following combination of characteristics was impossible to obtain in a recipe:
  • Tastiness
  • Simplicity / ease
  • Frugality
  • Healthfulness
But now we have a recipe that has achieved the holy quartet of cooking: chickpea salad. Dried chickpeas are insanely cheap (less than a dollar a pound), easy to cook (plop in water, boil for a couple of hours), pretty darn healthy (high in fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins; see here), and amazingly tasty1 when mixed with a few other ingredients. Thus this recipe is this week's end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.

1 pound dried chickpeas
Enough water to cover the chickpeas by a couple of inches
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 - 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed with a garlic press
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Rinse the chickpeas, discarding any bad ones.
2. Put the chickpeas in a large pot, cover by a few inches of water, and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, for one hour.
4. Mix in the salt and continue simmering, covered, until the chickpeas are completely tender (test for this by eating a chickpea or two every now and then); they will probably need about another hour of cooking. If you're not sure how much salt to add, use just 1 tablespoon and taste the chickpeas once they're nearly done cooking (when properly salted, they should be fairly tasty right out of the pot).
5. Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a large bowl.
6. Add the lemon juice, onions, garlic, and olive oil to the chickpeas while they're still hot, and stir to mix. Taste, and adjust the seasoning (salt and lemon juice levels in particular may need adjusting).
7. Serve warm.


Vary the amounts of each ingredient (and add other ingredients, e.g., a grinding of pepper, chopped tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, or some fresh parsley or cilantro) to suit your own tastes; this is an extremely flexible recipe.

Most recipes say to soak chickpeas (and other beans) before cooking; we've found that this is typically unnecessary (as long as we cook the beans for a bit longer than might otherwise be called for), and thus generally don't soak beans before cooking. However, if you're a fan of soaking legumes, by all means soak the chickpeas in this recipe.

1 - As a disclaimer, I'll say up front that this is not quite as divinely delicious as creamy Brussels sprout gratin, Bolognese lasagne, or royal braised vegetables in cardamom nut sauce, but considering how healthy and easy to cook it is, it's darn good.

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