Lately I have had a serious craving for Lebanese food. I have been dreaming about it, and my mouth waters simply at the thought of the truly delicious flavors of middle eastern food. Garlic, fresh herbs, lemon. What more needs to be said? My garden is very well right now. Great tomatoes, peppers, beans, and herbs fill the lining of my back yard. So as I took notice of the recently picked tomatoes, I thought I would make a nice salad out of them. Sure, I thought immediately of making a nice and creamy tomato sauce for gnocchi or using a few in some Filipino afritada, but once again I had thoughts of middle eastern food on my mind, and I had to shake it. Doing a quick search in my pantry, I noticed I had two bags of garbanzo beans. This led me to think of hummus which I make often, however I had a salad on my mind. A chickpea salad, with fresh tomatoes and herbs, plus I had feta cheese in the refrigerator that was calling my name. The thought alone sounded perfect; creamy beans with a punch of mint and basil, salty feta cheese, and the acid of the tomatoes. Perfect.
This salad was super easy to put together, especially that I had everything laying around, which is always nice. I used bagged garbanzo beans, often referred to as chickpea or Indian peas. You can however use a nice canned bean, however you will want to rinse and cook until nice and tender if you go that route.
- 1lb of chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
- 3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely sliced, then chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
- generous pinch of salt
- generous pinch of pepper
- 2 mature Serrano peppers or Thai chilies, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 7 oz of feta cheese, crumbled
- handful of fresh basil, rough chop
- handful of fresh mint, rough chop
Take the chickpeas that have been soaking overnight and place in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until nice and tender, about one hour. If you are using canned, cook for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, get the other ingredients ready. This should only take about 10 minutes, if that. Place the tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, chilies, and red onion in a large bowl. Mix and set aside.
When your beans are tender, drain, and let cool. When they come to a cooler state, heat a large skillet and add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Bring to a medium-high heat, and add the beans, mixing and cooking until you get some nice color to them. This is also a good time to filter any of the shells that come off the bean, and simply remove them. After about five minutes or so on the heat. Remove, and place them in the bowl that you prepared earlier. Mix well and let this come to room temperature, about 15 minutes or so. Toss in your chopped herbs and feta cheese. Taste. Season with more salt and pepper if need be and add a splash more of lemon juice if desired.
The freshness of this salad is dynamite. The excellent flavors of the beans, which are full of protein, the saltiness of the feta cheese, and the robust flavors of the herbs make this salad a pure hit at your next dinner party. Perfect for any occasion.