28: keeping peaks crisp...

i have this need to classify everything into categories, and today's topic fits into three categories at once:
  • so not a recipe: this dish is so simple and straight-forward that it would be criminal to try to pass this off as a "recipe" of any sorts.
  • fridge-cleaning food: it is the perfect thing to make when we are getting ready to restock the fridge, as it offers a good use for all the bits and bobs of veggies lurking in the produce bins. in mid-Winter, they would be tossed into a pot of soup, but come Summer, they are better put to use in this sort of thing.
  • Summer food: not only is it served cold, but it is a dish that requires zero heat to make it happen. toss in a frosty drink, or a cold beer, and this is the perfect way to chase away the heat. 
so, what am i talking about? one of our favorite, go-to dishes, especially at this time of year. i present to you... a chickpea salad.

full disclosure: i have a twisted affection for chickpeas. i have been known to dump a can of them into a bowl, and eat them like it was a bowl of popcorn or grapes. nothing odd about that.

not only are they incredibly tasty in all sorts of dishes, but from the right angle, they look like a tiny brains. if you squint a bit, you can almost make out the pineal gland. not really, but i just got through watching "From Beyond" (not my choice, i assure you), and my inner (former) brain-science nerd is still cringing at the over-use of that term.

where was i? oh, yes... chickpeas. rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, then dump them into a bowl. that may be the hardest part of the whole thing.

as noted, this salad is a good way to get rid of bits of veggies. i went digging through the fridge bins, and found a Vidalia onion, mini sweet peppers, a Roma tomato, the remains of a bunch of cilantro, and the last of the mini English cukes. i also nabbed one of the lemons that was earmarked for making iced tea, and i was ready to go.

minor aside: i am absolutely addicted to these mini English cucumbers. they are just tinier versions of the regular English cucumber, but they seem to be so much more flavorful. i usually cut them into either spears or slices for dipping or adding to green salads. or you can just grab a whole one and start nibbling. you will not regret the experience. i promise.

my brand of OCD demands that all of the ingredients must be roughly the same size or shape, so i opted to slice the cukess into cubes...

which were added to the chickpeas.

then i did the same with the remaining veggies.

next came the herbs. we have a healthy patch of oregano in the balcony garden, so i included a few snips of that the last minute.

i usually prefer to rough chop herbs for salads, so that is what i did to the cilantro, and i just stripped the oregano leaves from the stems. so easy.

into the bowl they went.

the last step was to make a vinaigrette. and by "make", i mean adding the remaining ingredients over the top of the salad, with no kind of pre-mixing required.

in went a generous drizzle of olive oil, splash of cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and the juice of one pilfered lemon.

i also included a bit of the lemon zest... because i can. my salad, my rules.

that is all. give it a mix to combine, then taste and adjust to your liking. no exaggeration... we have been known to eat half of the salad right out of the bowl during this "tasting" step. it really is that good.

it is pretty much good to go at this point, or it can be refrigerated for later use. i prefer not to leave it sitting for too long, as the veggies start to lose peak crispness... and i am a firm believer in keeping peaks crisp at all times.

this is a very filling salad, as you may guess. i am especially fond of having it with a bit of feta cheese crumbled over the top. toss in an icy beverage, or a cold beer, and that is all you need to round out a perfect mid-Summer meal.

of course, it also works well as a side dish, especially when paired with a season-appropriate serving of saucy ribs. in a word... perfect!

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