Lazy Mondays: Seven Spoons’ Chickpea, Sundried Tomatoes, Kasha, Red Onion, Fistful of Herbs Salad with Feta Cheese and Chili Flakes
Difficulty Level: Easy, but takes a little prep since I fully endorse using dried chickpeas as opposed to canned.
Notes: The more herbs, the better. I added kasha to Tara O’Brady’s recipe, but I think the recipe could take the addition of any grain - farro, quinoa, wheat berries etc. Makes it a little lighter (I photographed it both ways). Forego the cheese to make this a vegan entrée.
In honor of Lazy Mondays, where I feature a recipe from another blogger or cookbook author, this salad comes from one of my new favorite blogs, Seven Spoons. Tara O’Brady writes from southern Ontario. She is cooking with her forthcoming cookbook in my mind (the book will be released in 2015). Her photos are bright and hunger-inducing, and this salad was straight forward, healthy, but also pleasantly open for interpretation. Tara instructs us to add a “fistful of herbs” to the final product. She says, “The fistful of herbs is literal; I head outside to our herb boxes and pick whatever needs pruning or strikes my fancy.” In my case, I added two handfuls — I have small hands as well and I love a fragrant salad.
I happened to have about a cup of cooked kasha, buckwheat kernels, in the fridge, which I tossed in at the end to lighten up the dish. I love chickpeas, but they can be a bit dense, especially since we were eating this as a main course.
Tara notes the red chili flakes are optional, but unless you are total spice-wuss, I suggest including them. For me, the heat was the best part. I also ate the salad on the warm side, and I thought this was perfect. Tara suggests refrigerating for two hours, before eating. Give that a try, but I was hungry and didn’t have the patience to wait.
- 1/2 cup kasha (optional)
- 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup broth
- 1/4 large red onion, sliced wafer thin
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil
- A good pinch, about 1/8 teaspoon, red chili flakes (optional)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced wafer thin
- 8 sundried tomatoes, julienned
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 teaspoon (15 ml) English mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Approximately 1/2 cup (125 ml) of mixed herbs; examples include parsley, thyme, cilantro, basil, oregano and mint
- 1/ cup crumbled goats milk feta cheese
If using dried chickpeas, soak overnight or for at least 1-2 hours. boil, covered in water, until soft to the bite. Make sure they are fully cooked or the salad will appear dry and the beans won’t soak up the flavors. Drain, and set aside.
If using the kasha, bring broth to a boil. Add butter and kasha, turn off the heat, cover and allow to sit while you make the rest of the salad. The grain will absorb the liquid and will be ready to fluff with a fork.
In a small bowl, douse the red onion with the vinegar. Sprinkle over a good pinch of salt, then use your fingers to squish the mixture a bit - this will work the salt into the onions and expedite the breaking down of their acrid bite. Set aside.
In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes. If there is any sizzle at all, turn the heat to low. Once the oil is fragrant and the garlic turns translucent, turn off the heat. Add the sundried tomatoes and chickpeas at this point, allowing them to steep as the oil comes to room temperature. This step of bathing the chickpeas in the warm oil is wholly optional, but I feel it imparts more flavor into the beans.
Once the oil has cooled, remove the tomatoes and chickpeas from the saucepan and put them into a large bowl (keep the oil, set it aside). Do the same with the onions, adding them to the salad but reserving the vinegar.
In that vinegar bowl, whisk in the mustard, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the steeped olive oil. Once the vinaigrette is emulsified and thick, coarsely chop the herbs and add to the bowl, reserving about 1 tbs as garnish at the end. Pour this dressing over the chickpeas and tomatoes. Toss to combine. Add Kasha and gently fold in to the mixture.
Crumble the feta over the top, then fold gently to distribute. Check for seasoning.
Serve warm, or refrigerate for 2 hours or more to let the flavors infuse further. Garnish with remaining herbs sprinkled on top.