Long gone are the roasted vegetable and grain-filled power bowls of winter. Lately, we've been filling our plates with chopped salads jam-packed with cold diced raw vegetables, some sort of protein, a melange of fresh herbs and spices and a citrus or fruit-spiked creamy dressing to pull it all together. The finished dish is popped in the fridge until chilled, and what results is a light, airy and refreshing meal that hits the spot when you can't bother being weighed down by heavy meals in the summer.
This Mediterranean chickpea salad is spot on. In fact, there was a time in my life that I could consume a dish just like this weekly. During one particular stint, in which I found myself taking a helicopter to work in a small New England city, former colleagues fell victim to my bi-weekly visits to one Mediterranean restaurant for my fix of chickpeas, good olives and the divine matrimony of tahini and lemon that just makes these dishes so right. If you don't already have these classic flavors together in your repertoire, then this recipe is dedicated to you.
Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a great source of fiber and vegetarian protein. In this salad, they're paired with heaps of parsley, which is one of the greatest detoxifying and vitamin-filled herbs out there. You could also add in mint or cilantro to your liking, because when it comes to herbs, I truly believe that the more the merrier. I've also chopped in tomato, cucumber, pitted kalamata olives and green onions, which makes this dish nearly like a grain-less tabbouleh of sorts. It's then topped with dressing that marries that wonderful tahini and lemon combination with cumin, smoky paprika and Pink Himalayan salt. I recommend pairing with chopped kale or a flatbread to make it a meal. And, if you include a nicely bodied glass of red wine, I think you might just have the perfect early summer evening meal.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
1 ripe tomato
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 small red onion, diced finely
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cucumber, quartered and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice (I'm a big lemon fan, so adjust this to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt
Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl and toss. In a blender or food processor, blend together olive oil, tahini, lemon, salt, cumin, and paprika until smooth. Pour dressing over salad and mix until completely covered.