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Spiced chickpea salad Ottolenghi

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Ottolenghi inspired

This recipe is inspired by the Spiced chickpeas & fresh vegetable salad recipe published in Ottolenghi's Jerusalem:  A Cookbook. Interestingly enough, Ottolenghi's recipe was inspired by a dish served at Morito, a popular London tapas bar. My daughter Margo was in London and happened to eat this dish at Morito's. She texted me pictures saying we had to make these incredible fried chickpeas. I recognized the chickpeas from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook. So...to make a long story short, here is Morito's fried chickpea recipe, by way of Ottolenghi, with a few tweaks.

A filling Meatless Monday dish

This is a highly flexible dish that can be served as tapas, a salad-for-dinner or a main course. It is vegetarian, and if you skip the cheese, it can be vegan and dairy-free. It is a great idea for a casual Meatless Monday. The chickpeas are quite filling and substantial.

As a part of a mezzah platter

This salad works well as a main component to a mezzah platter. Mezzah, roughly translates to tapas in Arabic. See my post for ideas for great mezzah platters.

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Fried halloumi or feta cheese

I like to serve this dish with slices of fried halloumi cheese or a bit of crumbled feta over the salad. Halloumi is a briny cheese that originated in Cyprus and is popular throughout the Middle East. Frying or grilling this cheese brings out its buttery and salty flavor.

Herbed yogurt and cucumbers

Herbed yogurt and cucumbers is a delicious addition to many Middle Eastern dishes. There are many variations, but in general cucumber bits are stirred into thick greek yogurt, and seasoned with lemon, garlic and herbs. I like to add a bit of this herbed yogurt and cucumbers to top off the chickpeas.

Za'atar-dipped pita bread

Grilled pita is a great accompaniment, particularly when served with a hearty olive oil and za'atar spice for dipping. Za'atar spice can be purchased at Middle Eastern markets, Savory Spice Shop and on Amazon.

Plan ahead

A little planning ahead is required for the fried chickpeas. They must be soaked overnight, and then simmered in water for an hour before they are fried. After that, it takes just a few minutes to cook them in their seasoning. Once the chickpeas are cooked they can be frozen. So save time on future meals and make more than you need.

My spin on Ottolenghi

I make a few changes to Ottolenghi's recipe. I replace the cilantro with mint and I use za'atar instead of his mixture of cardamom, allspice and cumin. The bottom line is you can be creative on how you spice the chickpeas. I switch it up every time I make it.

Spiced chickpea salad Ottolenghi

Yield 6 servings

A Middle Eastern mezzah platter filled with spiced chickpeas, fried halloumi cheese, a vegetable salad, pita bread and olive oil and za'atar for dipping. Serve as appetizers or a meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 pound Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 pint cherry or tear drop tomatoes, quartered or halved
  • 1/2 pound radishes, diced into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced into 1/2 " pieces
  • 3/4 cup red onion, peeled and diced into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 large handful mint, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 T Sherry wine vinegar (Jerez vinegar)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 t superfine sugar
  • 6 T olive oil, divided
  • 4 T Za'atar spice
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Halloumi cheese, sliced or feta (optional)
  • 6 slices pita bread, quartered (optional)
  • 1/4 cup za'atar spice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the chickpeas in a bath of water and baking soda overnight. The water should be several inches above the chickpeas to allow for the chickpeas to swell and absorb the water. Drain and transfer chickpeas into a large saucepan. Add water, again several inches more water than chickpeas, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about an hour until tender, but not falling apart. Check for doneness after 45 minutes. Periodically skim off any foam that develops on the surface of the water. Drain and reserve.
  2. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, red pepper, onion, cilantro and parsley in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine zest, lemon juice, Sherry wine vinegar, garlic and sugar. Whisk in 5 T olive oil to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Combine za'atar and 1/2 t salt on a plate. Toss the chickpeas in the spice mixture to coat. Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and fry the chickpeas in batches, 3 - 4 minutes, stirring. Keep warm.
  5. Optional: Just before you are ready to serve, grill the halloumi cheese slices in another skillet until brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, you can sprinkle a bit of feta on top of the salad.
  6. Toss the chopped vegetables in the dressing and arrange on a platter. Arrange the warm chickpeas, grilled halloumi cheese, and pita bread slices around the salad.

 

THIS SERVES WELL WITH

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