Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chick Pea Salad: My Legume Love Affair

If I had to choose my favorite legume, it would be chick peas. Or lentils. Or the peanuts in Reeses peanut butter cups.

Although my heart is warmed upon tasting homemade hummus laden with enough garlic to keep vampires away for seven nights and part of a twilight, and the manner in which Greek chick pea and lemon soup manages to taste like actual chicken thrills me like dandelions do a two-year old, when I cook chick peas, their destination is most often Salad City. And they don't just get tossed on some lettuce. I compose a salad around them. Or rather, I roast off what's remaining in my vegetable drawer right before it's time to go shopping again, add some olive oil and lemon, and call it dinner.

On occasion, for a super fantastic night, I go all out, think about flavors and textures, and put some fish on top. Like I am doing, for example, for the following event.

At the wine bar where I work, we have a winemaker dinner this weekend with Sergio Germano of Germano Ettore winery in Piedmont, Italy. I wanted to do something special because, well, he's one of the nicest guys in the winemaking world, and because his lemonesque, mineral, clean and sprightly dry Riesling, which we are serving with the first of four courses, deserves some extra attention. Extra special chick pea attention, that is. Since the My Legume Love Affair blogging event just happens to take place on the date of that occasion, I'm going to share a little chick pea love with the legume folks too.

The meaty chick peas carry the mineral, fiesty nature of Germano Ettore's Reisling well, and I made sure to pack the salad full of lemon, in zest and juice form to carry the citrus flavors and high acidity of Ettore's wine. For the event, I am cooking squid to top the salad. In the photo below, marinated anchovies that I used to top the salad another time are featured. Instructions for both preparations follow the salad recipe.

Chick pea, feta, and arugula salad

* Serves 4-5 people
* Soak legumes in water overnight or for at least six hours before cooking.
* Salad will taste best if all but arugula marinates overnight.
* In the salad photo, you might notice I tossed some carmelized onions into the salad. For the event, I choose to keep it a little fresher and omitted the onions. Include if like.

8 oz chick peas, soaked
bay leaf
rosemary sprig
zest of one lemon
juice from 1 1/2 lemon
2 - 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 oz French feta
1/2 bunch fresh chervil, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh tarragon, chopped
2 large handfuls arugula
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring soaked chick peas to boil (in fresh water) in a medium-sized pot with bay leaf and rosemary. Once boiling, adjust heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until legumes are tender, but not mushy. Drain, and discard herbs.
2. Once peas are cool or at room temperature, place in a large bowl, add lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil and stir until well-blended. Crumble feta and add to bowl along with fresh herbs. Salad may be set aside to marinate now, or before arugula is added.
3. Add arugula right before serving, and divide among 4 plates


This was my first adventure cooking at home with the sweet, oily little fish. If you want to top your chickpeas with anchovies per photo, do as follows.
Wash the little guys in cool water. Make sure your cat is outside. Cut off head directly beneath gills. Glide fish knife from underneath the gills on the crease of fish's belly to the end of its tail. Open the fish, it should open into two flaps. Remove the organs. Pluck out the blones with the tip of the knife and pull out with fingers until removed. Cut the anchovies into two fillets.
Heat a sauté pan to high heat. Once hot, drizzle with canola oil/olive oil mixture. Gently place fish in pan, skin side down, and cook for one to two minutes each side. These fish are salty, salt with extreme caution. After cooked, set aside in small bowl and cover with thin lemon slices and olive oil to marinate until ready to serve.

Oh how I love calamari, in all it's glorious forms.
(thank god for video):
Cut into rings about half an inch thick. Heat sauté pan to high heat, and drizzle with canola oil/olive oil mixture. Add squid rings and tentacles to pan, and saute briefly. The key to cooking squid without going rubbery is to either cook the swimmer for under three minutes, or over thirty minutes. Cook here for two minutes or under, or until rings and tentacles are just firm and no longer translucent. Top the salad and drizzle the juice in pan around the plate.

Do you have a favorite chick pea dish you make at home or enjoy at a restaurant?

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Simona said...

Nice chickpea salad. I actually think it is fun to clean squid.

Cynthia said...

I love chickpea salad.

johncarrier said...

Mmmmm... Chickpea. Of course I prefer the Italian word for those tasty little legumes, cece. One of my favorite, and very easy to make, soups is chickpea with kale. Start with garlic, anchovy paste and EVOO. Give it a little heat and when the garlic turns golden add white wine and and chopped kale. Throw a lid on and let it steam and cook down the kale. Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Take yesterdays crusty bread and cut a nice fat slice. Rub it with garlic and sprinkle with EVOO and toast, like an over sized crustini. Put the large crustini in a bowl, ladle over with soup, and top with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. So simple, so basic, yet so delicious. I love the earthiness from the kale, it goes so well with the chickpeas and the cheese.

-John Carrier

Susan said...

Chickpeas, arugula and all those fresh herbs...what a great recipe!

Thanks, Kirsten, for sharing this for MLLA8!

Kirstin said...

Simona- Cleaning squid can be strangely satisfying. I'm cleaning 5 lbs of it tonight. That's a little too much to satisfy, I think.
JohnCarrier- I prefer "Cycilia," the Nordic-Romantic word for chickpeas but cece is fine. The soup sounds awesome. I'm a kale freak too.
Susan- thank you. Happy to join My Legume Love Affair!

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