It's been such a long, cold spring in Paris that I've been longing lately for fresh vegetables. Non-root vegetables. No more carrots or potatoes. No more dried old tired onions. I want fresh flavours and bright colours. And although these vegetables have not yet come into season in the Paris region I was able to find ingredients that were produced in France, which is my fall-back postition on the Eat Local Challenge. Not only are the elements all Mediterranean in flavour, undoubtedly most of them CAME from the Med.
I like cooking my own chickpeas (garbanzo beans to some) but you could make this much more quickly (22 hours at least) by using canned ones. If you do, however, I would still recommend making it at least an hour before serving so that the flavours can mingle and be absorbed by the chickpeas. In this case you would also want to go easy on the salt.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
200 grams dried (or canned) chickpeas
2 small ripe tomatoes, diced
4-6 spring onion, sliced
6-8 Tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large sprig of rosemary, chopped finely
a splash of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sweet paprika
If you are cooking dried chickpeas, place them in a bowl and cover them with a few inches of water. Allow them to soak overnight or at least 8 hours. Cook them over a medium heat with the crushed garlic clove for an hour and a half or longer, until they are tender. (I soaked the chickpeas overnight and then put them in a crock pot in the morning to cook all day on low.) Once they are tender, drain them and allow them to cool.
Cut the eggplant in half and score it with a knife in a diamond pattern. Drizzle a little olive oil over the eggplant and bake it at 200c for about 35 minutes, or until soft and tender. Let it cool while you begin assembling the rest of the salad, dicing tomatoes and slicing onions. Toss the tomatoes, onions, chickpeas and rosemary with the remaining olive oil. Cut the eggplant into bite-sized pieces and toss the salad again. Ideally, you should allow it to sit in a refrigerator for a few hours to develop flavours. Before serving, add the lemon juice and paprika and taste for salt, pepper and sour. You might want to add another glug of olive oil too, especially if you are using a really good quality one.
The salad is a lovely filling one. I personally love the satisfying texture of chomping on a chickpea and the nutty flavour that explodes in your mouth. On a bed of rocket (arugula) it makes a very healthy first course or (if a larger serving) a satisfying main dish.