Mediterranean chickpea salad with leafy herbs and Dijon tahini dressing

The first few warm days after a long New York winter are magical. People, dogs, and Central Park turtles you haven’t seen in months begin resurfacing from hibernation, and suddenly you find yourself chatting leisurely with neighbors in the sunshine and the cold gusts of winter are a distant memory. I’m sitting at my desk as I write this, windows thrown open, gentle breeze coming in, almost 70 degrees in the early evening, looking up to catch the late afternoon play of light and shadow on the bricks of the facing buildings.

In that pause between the late afternoon dog walk and the start of dinner preparations, I’m sipping an herbal latte and wanted to share a quick and simple dish that’s become a favorite light lunch on warm afternoons. The inspiration was a kitchen fail — a batch of overcooked chickpeas that were originally destined for spice-roasting but ultimately seemed more suitable for mashing. Not in the mood for another batch of hummus, I landed on a Mediterrranean chickpea salad with crunchy carrot and fennel, scallions, briny olives and capers, lots of fresh herbs, and a creamy and bright tahini dressing with lots of fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard.

I love this bright and protein-packed salad piled high on toasted sourdough rye as an open-faced sandwich, and it’s also great wrapped up in a sprouted tortilla with some leafy greens for a heartier meal, or piled into radicchio leaves when you’re looking for something lighter and less carb-y. It would also make a perfect light app spooned onto endive leaves.

Mediterranean chickpea salad with leafy herbs and Dijon tahini dressing
Makes about 3-1/2 cups

1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
juice of 1 lemon
dash of Tabasco
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 13.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 large fennel bulb, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl whisk together tahini, mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of water and whisk until smooth (the dressing will thicken and then thin out again). If the dressing is too thick (it should be a pourable honey-like consistency), whisk in more water little by little to thin it out. Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl mash chickpeas using a fork or potato masher. Add carrots, fennel, scallion, olives, capers, and herbs and toss to combine. Pour dressing over mixture and toss until dressing is evenly distributed. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

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