Chickpea salad and chicken steak on the side
After the last post, a mango and passion fruit ice-cream that you can prepare in 5 minutes, I know it is a contradiction to come here with a recipe for chickpea salad. I know and I feel the same: we look at those hard and lifeless grains and imagine everything we need to do – and the time it will take! – in order to make them edible. Desolate, we put the pack back into the cupboard until it expires. But if you think carefully, cooking chickpeas only seems complicated.
Do you want to have chickpeas for your Tuesday dinner? Just leave them soaked in water before going to work, on Tuesday morning. When you get back home in the end of the day, they will be there, fat and swollen, waiting for the pan. You might waste some minutes rubbing them in your hands to “peel them off” – but, ok, this is such a relaxation after a working day. Then you just throw them in the pressure cooker. And while the pan does the hard work, you prepare the precious sauce, flavour the chicken (or any other meat) that you will soon brown in the frying pan. And the work is finished.
I love chickpeas and I still dream of having once again a dish my mum used to prepare when I was a teenager (yes, my mum is a woman of phases, like moon phases. She spends some time making the same recipes and later she gives them up forever replacing for other ones). It was a kind of chickpea soup with aubergine in cubes and there was a creamy, velvety texture with a remarkable flavour enhanced by that mixture of spices that only my mother knows how to prepare. I was born and brought up in South of Brazil where, for a tropical country, there are very low temperatures in the winter. On the coldest days, my mother would wait for us with a steamy and comforting pan of chickpea soup. It was supposed to be only the starter but I liked it so much that I had two or three deep plates which made me quit the main lunch.
The day we prepared this salad, I talked about this soup recipe to her but she changed the subject: she surely doesn’t remember it as long as she never follows recipes. But I will try to rescue it, even if I have to do it by myself, because it is one of the kindest dishes of my adolescence. When I manage to reach a close result, I promise I will share it with you. Meanwhile, let’s go for salad to face these hot summer days. Have a good week!
Leave 250 grams of chickpeas soaked in cold water for 12 hours – this makes them more hydrous and cooking is easier. Drain the water putting it away. Before cooking them, remove the skin that covers the grain: take a small portion of grains in your hand and rub your hands together so the skin will release. Do the same with all the grains left.
After getting the skin removed, put the chickpeas in a pressure cooker and cover them in water (4 inches above the grains). Cook them for half an hour. Remove the pressure lid, check if the grains are cooked and drain them over a drainer. Let them cool down and leave them aside.
For the sauce:
1 finely chopped red onion
Chopped black olives
1 squeezed lime
6 tablespoons of olive oil
Chopped spring onion or parsley
Freshly grounded salt and pepper
Mix them well and flavour your salad.
Take a chicken steak into a frying pan and brown it with salt, garlic, a dash of pepper and your favourite herbs. Serve it with chickpea salad.