I’m not entirely sure why, but when Dan asked me in the most complimentary way to “master” the chickpea salad he’d eaten at Woody’s, our local favorite for Lebanese, I didn’t exactly jump all over it.
The poor guy—he’s been casually slipping his simple request into conversation wherever it fits. I mention cooking up some peeled chickpeas for hummus, and he says, “oh, would you use those for the chickpea salad?” (the answer is no; I save those strictly for hummus). He sees me taking photos of brussels sprouts with dates, and says, almost under his breath and with no hint of irritation (he’s special), “maybe the chickpea salad will be next.”
The first time Dan ate the salad, he called me with what could only be called a fever-pitch. He described what he’d eaten in detail, and brought some home. He started talking about how and when I would master the salad, reviewing a run-down of everything in it. My phone rings or dings every single time Dan makes the rounds at Woody’s (“I had the chickpeas again!”). I know, he’s adorable.
I suspected the salad would be good, and the fact that it’s so healthy made it that much more exciting.
So I tasted, I inspected, and I promised. Then did nothing.
Here’s the thing: this salad is tabbouleh-esque in its demand for chopping. Finely diced vegetables are not my favorite kitchen task, by a long shot. Ask me to master a white cake recipe, and it’s done in a New York minute. Brown butter for chocolate chip cookies? I’m on it today. Roll a huge tunjura of grape leaves, or stir up a pan of hushweh? Done, done. Whip up a batch of my ultra-smooth homemade hummus? I love you for asking.
If my sister Peg would just sit here in my kitchen awaiting my request for her to chop all of the ingredients, I’d have had the chickpea salad done a long time ago. She’s really the best chop-chop of all time. She enjoys it. She gets all set up with her sharp knife and goes cheffy on me. But somehow she thinks she should spend most of her time elsewhere, not in my kitchen at the ready.
So maybe I am entirely certain as to why the chickpea salad kept getting the shaft in my line-up of recipes to master. But with picnic season upon us, and Dan mentioning the salad with increasing frequency and intensity in the sweetest way, I decided I best put my chop-avoidance aside.
After all, whenever I teach a class or demo, I describe how easy it is to chop when you hold your–very sharp–knife correctly. Time to practice what she preaches, which Dan would never say, so I will for him.
- 3 Persian or other small cucumbers
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 5 radishes
- 5 Campari tomatoes
- 15 snap peas
- 3 scallions
- 16 ounces chickpeas (canned or cooked from dry)
- 8 ounces feta cheese
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Mint Salt, or your own blend of dried mint, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
- Finely dice all of the vegetables, removing the seeds from the tomatoes before dicing them. For the scallions, use both the white and green parts.
- In a medium bowl, combine the vegetables with the chickpeas. Crumble half of the feta over top. Dress with the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and Garlic Mint Salt (use dried mint, garlic powder, salt and pepper). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving, topped with more feta.