My first trip to the grocery store postvacation was a blur of kale bunches and zucchini — and tubs of coffee. After two weeks of jamon and patatas piled high onto slabs of tortilla in Spain, I needed to restock our fridge with everything green.
A week of mostly healthy eating was followed by a Saturday filled with pitchers of beer and pizza in the name of cheering on the Gators. So I was craving a salad.
I turned to a fairly new cookbook on my shelf for inspiration. Eating in the Middle, billed as a "mostly wholesome cookbook," offers a mix of lightened-up recipes that, as promised, are flavorful and satisfying. Mostly wholesome is precisely how I prefer to eat.
I landed on a recipe for a chopped salad that intrigued me for its use of tahini and chickpeas. On top of chopped romaine, tomatoes and cucumber, tahini makes for a rich dressing that ties the fresh vegetables together with the warm chickpeas coated in cinnamon, cumin and cardamom.
I often fold chickpeas into a quick salad for lunch and let a simple dressing flavor the whole thing. From now on, I'm taking the extra step to season and crisp them up in a pan.
This recipe is fairly quick to put together for a weekend lunch (and it yielded generous leftovers). It's also forgiving. I forgot to grab tarragon at the store, so I used parsley instead for the dressing. I did remember to pick up grape tomatoes, but the only small tomatoes available when I went shopping looked pale. Instead, I used brown-green Kumato tomatoes that were already ripe and juicy on my counter at home. In the spice mix for the chickpeas, I added smoked paprika — a habit from my Spain vacation I didn't want to take a break from.
Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg with her husband. For more of their kitchen stories, visit her blog, ALittleSaffron.com. Say hello at [email protected]