In my opinion, chickpea salad is the ultimate in all great meals. Everything about it is good; nothing is bad. For example:
- It tastes great.
- It is healthy: when combined with cous-cous, it forms a complete protein. It’s also low-fat and low-sugar but contains loads of useful nutrients such as fibre (in the chickpeas) and folate (in the roquette). There are also enough carbs to fill you up until the next meal.
- It is easy and fast to make (as long as you use canned chickpeas).
- The ingredients are simple and can be adjusted to the seasons. When lemons are not in season, you can use preserved lemon and sumac.
- It can be made/assembled anywhere.
- It is vegetarian.
- The ingredients are inexpensive.
This is how I do it, but of course you can modify this depending on what you have available or personal preference. I would say that the key ingredients are chickpeas (of course), lemons and garlic. Onion and fetta come very close to being key components, too. Everything else can be changed without drama, though I always try to add ingredients to create a variety of textures, tastes and colours.
2 cans of chickpeas or 500g chickpeas, soaked overnight and simmered for 1-3 hours to soften
½ cup cous-cous, soaked in ½ cup just boiled water for 10 minutes (to make this gluten free, substitue quinoa for cous cous)
2-3 cloves garlic, roasted in oven in foil for 15 mins or 1 clove chopped extremely finely or pressed
½ punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
50-100g fetta cheese, diced
A couple of spring onions, sliced finely or ½ red/Spanish onion, sliced very finely
A few handfuls of roquette or baby spinach or flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1-2 lemons and/or about ½ a preserved lemon rind, chopped finely
Sumac, to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Any fresh herbs, chopped finely (optional as can compete with other greens)
Olive oil (optional)
Chilli, chopped finely (optional)
- There is almost no method for this. Simply combine all the ingredients together. If using Spanish onion, you can sauté it in olive oil with the garlic and chilli for 10-15 minutes. But, there are a hundred different ways to make this salad.
- The cous-cous is pretty optional, though it does make a more complete meal if added.
- In non-Summer months, roasted pumpkin or sweet potato can replace the tomato.