I could subsist on the chickpea.
Actually, beyond subsistence -- which has the connotation of being practical, necessary and essential but not particularly thrilling or absolutely desirable -- if I was forced to choose, among all food items, including chocolate and bread and cheese, which I would take with me to a deserted island, I would choose the chickpea.
Because to me, the chickpea is particularly thrilling and absolutely desirable. Absolutely.
At one point in my wayward youth/vegan early 20s, as a matter of fact, I almost got the humble legume tattooed on the back of my neck. It was either that or my other would-be choice for ink, the Pearl Jam stick figure. I never did get around to getting a tattoo, though the chickpea would have worn a lot better than the Alive Guy.
I enjoy the chickpea in just about every iteration other than tattoo. Pureed, with tahini and coriander, in hummus. Minced with garlic and parsley then fried, as falafel. Boiled with tomatoes, rosemary, black pepper and pasta, as pasta e ceci. Tossed with spices and roasted until nearly crisp, as a perfect savory snack. Milled into a flour and mixed into baked goods. Lined up on a fork, plain. Eaten out of the can, hobo-style.
Mixed with a warm vinaigrette, gratuitous slabs of feta and salty-sharp Sicilian olives for a perfect weekday lunch.
On second thought, can I take two things to the deserted island? 'Cause I need feta, too. And olives. Three things.
CHICKPEA SALAD WITH CUMIN VINAIGRETTE
Adapted from New Classic Family Dinners via Serious Eats
You might want to double this recipe. I'm just saying.
For the cumin vinaigrette:
2 t. cumin seeds
1 t. cracked black peppercorns
2 t. dried oregano
1/2 c. + 1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
For the chickpea salad:
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 T. fresh mint, slivered
2 oz. feta cheese, cubed
In a small skillet, toast the cumin and black pepper over medium-high heat until very fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and allow to cool 5 minutes, then crush. Crumble in oregano.
Heat 1 T. of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering, then add the garlic. Cook until the garlic begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Add the cumin and spices and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the red wine vinegar and stir to combine. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 c. olive oil to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the chickpeas to the skillet with the vinaigrette. Simmer until cooked and soft, 5-10 minutes. Transfer the warm chickpeas to a large mixing bowl and combine with the olives, scallions, mint and feta. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4, supposedly. But I will believe that when I see it.
Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:
One year ago: chicken souvlaki
Two years ago: deconstructed pesto lasagna
Three years ago: my nephews' birthday cakes: a treatise