Monday, January 31, 2011

Still trying to keep those resolutions? Chickpeas to the rescue!

Recently, I got one of those "recipe o' the day" emails from a site called Kitchen Daily, where they shared a Greek-style chickpea salad that looked fairly light and very tasty. As a bonus, it looked pretty quick and easy, especially if you start with canned garbanzos. So one night last week when I didn't have the time or energy for an elaborate dinner, I threw a double batch of the salad together, then I just marinated some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in fresh lemon juice and zest, lots and lots of garlic, salt, pepper, dried oregano, and a pinch of hot pepper flakes, and seared them in a skillet. In less than a half hour, I had Pan-Seared Greek-Style Chicken Breasts and Chickpeas with Red Onion, Feta, Dill and Lemon.

When I served some to my roommate, she joked around, saying it all looked too healthy, like a dietician had prepared it. But soon thereafter, I heard her "mmm's" and "ahh's," so it must not have tasted TOO healthy!  Tee hee. Actually, you can make this a little healthier by going easy on the amount of vinaigrette that you use. In the original recipe, there is more than TWICE the amount of dressing that a reasonable person would actually desire. So I am doubling the salad ingredients below, as I did when I made it so that we would have plenty left over for lunches to take to work. And you know this is the kind of thing that is even better the next day!

Chickpeas with Red Onion, Feta, Dill and Lemon
(Source: adapted from Gail Simmons at Kitchen Daily)

3 cups dried chickpeas, (or 2 - 15.5 oz cans of chickpeas)
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 cups grape cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2/3 cup finely sliced red onion
2/3 cup roughly chopped fresh dill (I used one of those small clamshell boxes of baby dill)

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and gently bashed (I used 3 or 4 large cloves, minced)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
kosher salt* and freshly ground black pepper
**I also added a generous teaspoon of dried oregano

Rinse dried chickpeas and place them in large bowl of water to soak overnight. Drain and place them in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water by 2 inches; add bay leaf and cloves of garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain and remove the bay leaf and garlic. Allow to cool. (If using canned chickpeas, simply place in a colander and rinse under cold running water).

Make vinaigrette: In a large bowl whisk lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard and garlic. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Season with sugar, salt* and pepper (and oregano, if using). Set aside to macerate while you prepare vegetables then discard garlic. (I doubled the garlic, minced it, and threw it right in!)

To the bowl, add crumbled feta, sliced tomatoes, red onion, and dill. Add chickpeas and toss to coat everything evenly. Season with more cracked black pepper if desired.

*Note: I do not recommend the addition of salt, as the feta brings plenty of saltiness to the party!

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