Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Test: Chickpea Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

The re-inspiration I found on Sunday carried over into the side dish that I made to go with the Kashmiri Chicken. This Chickpea Salad, as seen on Serious Eats but from Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners, is delicious and paired really well with the chicken. Again, though I like chickpeas, they aren't usually something that I cook with and I'm generally skeptical of fresh mint in anything, but the combination of ingredients in this salad is really fantastic. The kalamata olives are really smooth and the mint is very subtle. This salad is good as a side or would make a great lunch.

Chickpea Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
From New Classic Family Dinners by Mark Peel

For the cumin vinaigrette
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the chickpea salad
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon slivered mint leaves
1 ounce feta cheese, cubed

In small skillet, toast cumin and black pepper over medium-high heat until very fragrant. Transfer to mortar and pestle or spice grinder, allow to cool 5 minutes, then crush. Crumble in oregano (I forgot the oregano, but my salad was still delicious). Tip: use a small food processor to crush spices if you don't have a mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmering, then add garlic. Cook until beginning to soften, about 30 seconds, then add cumin and spices and cook for additional 30 seconds. Add vinegar and stir to combine, the whisk in remaining oil to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add chickpeas to skillet and simmer until cooked and soft, 5-10 minutes. Transfer to bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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