I probably spend more time in kitchen than most. A lot more time, even. But sometimes, more often in fact than one would perhaps think, dinner needs to be ready quickle. Preferably NOW.
On such occasions I have a few staples I keep going back to. This is one of them, especially in summer or early autumn, while the tomatoes and cucumbers are still tasty. It’s hard to imagine more satisfaction from a mere 10 minutes’ work than this: light, comforting, flavoursome and juicy – all at the same time.
Chickpeas (from a tin, mind you – I find the self-cooked ones are difficult to get to the right texture for this), friend and gently spiced. A chopped salad on the side. The contrast of the crispy and slightly dried chickpeas work incredible well against the tangy and juicy chopped salad. A little yoghurt and fresh bread on the side, if I have it. And, if I have a few minutes to spare, perhaps a simple tahini dressing to pour over, but that is by no means necessary.
This recipe can be varied almost endlessly. I like the spice mix below but feel free to substitute or try other variations. What about some za’atar and sumac for the chickpeas? Rosemary and garlic? Or what about a little cumin on the chickpeas and some allspice in the salad?
And speaking of the salad: use what you have or what you like. The tomatoes and cucumbers are a must, I think – save 1/3 of the salad for each. But be creative with the last 1/3. Add some finely chopped red onion or spring onion, for example. Pepper or turnip also work well in place of the radish. Coriander or dill both substitute the parsley beautifully.
If you want, this can also be served alongside almost any other dish: meat, fish or pie all work well. But I prefer it to be the star of the show. Serves 2 as the only main course with some yoghurt and fresh bread on the side, 4 as a side.
- 2 large tomatoes, in 1 cm cubes (c. 300 g)
- 2-4 middle eastern cucumbers, in 1 cm cubes or 1 regular cucumber, core removed and cut into 1 cm cubes (c. 250 g)
- 2-3 small radishes, in 1 cm cubes (c. 100 g)
- 100 ml roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2×400 g tins chickpeas, drained or 500 g cooked chickpeas
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- salt and pepper
- Make the salad by combining the chopped tomato, cucumber and radish. Peel the tomatoes and cucumbers if you like, it will yield a more delicate flavour. Add the spring onion, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix gently and season to taste.
- Drain the chickpeas and dry well (the less moisture, the less the oil will spit when frying). Fry in the olive oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan on medium/high heat until starting to brown, 4-5 minutes. Stir regularly. Drain on kitchen towels or baking parchment.
- Mix the spaces and mix half of it into the chickpeas. Season if necessary (tinned chickpeas are usually plenty salty already). Top with the rest of the spice mix and serve with the chopped salad on the side.
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