I need to be better at remembering this: every March, when I fall into a cooking rut and find myself eating the same thing — beans! — over and over again, the best way to find a little inspiration is to get out. Anywhere: restaurants, a friend’s house, or even, well, the grocery store.
I have mentioned the Honest Weight Food Co-op before — it’s where I stock up on all of my muesli ingredients — and while I typically give their bulk food section the most attention, I’ve recently discovered their prepared-food aisle, a battery of salads and slaws, grains and legumes, vegetables and fruits, tofu and curries, an array of textures and colors, each clamshell as enticing as the next.
After a week of eating beans morning, noon, and night, I made the trek to HW only to return with, well, more beans! Or sort of: a simple chickpea-and-onion salad tossed in a cilantro-lime dressing. In this in-between season of foods, when the comforts of winter have lost some of their appeal yet spring fare still feels months away, this salad couldn’t have tasted more refreshing. And because the salad barely made it through my front door, and I immediately wanted more, I made a batch of the dressing to ensure I could eat cilantro-lime chickpeas morning, noon and night.
Inspired by a salad I recently discovered at the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany. I have not tried canned chickpeas, but go for it if you have them on hand. This is a super simple salad: chickpeas, onions, dressing. Add to it as you wish: dried fruit, nuts, seeds, a minced jalapeno, etc., would all be nice additions.
for cooking the chickpeas:
- 1 lb. dried chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 qts. water
for the dressing:
- 4 oz. cilantro (a large bunch)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice or white balsamic vinegar or a mix of the two
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
for the salad:
- cooked chickpeas
- finely chopped red or yellow onion
- dressing to taste
- Soaking and cooking the chickpeas:Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of salt into the water. Add the chickpeas and soak for 8 to 24 hours. Drain, rinse and place in a pot with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook at a gentle simmer until the chickpeas are cooked through — this can take hours. As noted above, it is important the chickpeas are completely cooked through. Be sure to taste a few. Let the chickpeas cool in their cooking liquid. Store the chickpeas in their cooking liquid.
- Make the dressing:Place the cilantro, lime or vinegar (or both), olive oil, garlic, mustard, 2 teaspoons of the sugar, turmeric, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth. Taste. Adjust dressing with more salt, pepper, sugar, lime, vinegar, oil, etc.
- Make the salad:Place cooked chickpeas in a large bowl. Add minced onion. Toss with dressing to taste. I didn’t really measure, but I probably used 1 cup of minced onion for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas, and I dressed the chickpeas heavily in the dressing — go big on the dressing! Taste, adjust with more salt if necessary.