Thursday, June 24, 2010

Choban Salad with Chickpeas from Scratch

The tomato and cucumber salad is ubiquitous is these parts.  Most every table - whether it be at a restaurant or a friend's house, will offer a variation of the choban salad, or shepard's salad.  And many times, it's not even required to be in salad form.  Whole cukes and tomatoes with a few sprigs of herbs often suffices.

With it being tomato and cucumber season, I had everything on hand to make my own version of choban salat, with a mediterranean twist by adding a bit of feta and chickpeas.  It makes for a super healthy lunch on days when it's way too hot to think about turning on the oven.

Here's what I had on hand:  a bunch of chinese celery (which admittedly I thought was parsley at first), chickpeas (that I cooked in large batches and froze in two cup quantities), a lemon, a green pepper, two cukes, one tomato, feta and olive oil.

First things first.  Dice the tomato.

Lop off the top of the pepper and gut it with your fine knife skills.

Cut into slices and then dice.

Peel and slice your cucumbers.  Or keep the skin on if you prefer.  I didn't bother to scrape the seeds out.   But if you aren't lazy like me, slice the cucumber in half and take a spoon and scoop out the seeds.


I decided to add the one lonely scallion that was in my fridge.

Dice that, too.

Place all that chopped goodness into a bowl.

This is what I think is known as chinese celery.  Smells and tastes like celery but it has slim stalks and tons of foliage, the opposite of it's western counterpart.  Any herb really could be used here.

For the simple dressing, slice one meyer lemon in half.

Juice it.

And following the old rule of thumb for a vinaigrette, add twice as much olive oil.  This is a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to lemon juice.  You can take this in a million directions....

....but I just added a touch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Shake, shake, shake until nice and creamy. This makes a lot of dressing, much more than you'll need for this salad so use it throughout the week.

Pour it on your salad ingredients.

And toss gently.

Serve it up with a few cubes of feta and that's lunch.

And as a bonus meal, I turned this into a gazpacho like soup later in the week.  I pureed a few cups of the salad in my food processor until chunky and then added about a 1 or 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar and about two cups of spicy tomato juice.

It was a refreshing melding of gazpacho and hummus!  And another way to avoid the stove on a 100 degree day.

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