Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fresh Chick Pea, Fennel and Red Pepper Salad

Fresh chick peas (garbanzo beans or ceci beans) have a fresh, subtle flavor and almost pop in your mouth. They look like baby peapods with usually one but sometimes two peas per pod:

Top: Chick peas in their pods Bottom: Shelled chick peas

This recipe was inspired by finding fresh chick peas in our local Middle Eastern grocery, though the fennel and red bell pepper were included mainly because we had them handy in the fridge. The combination seemed to work out quite nicely, though!

1 cup diced fennel
1 cup shelled, fresh chickpeas
1 red bell pepper
1 tsp tomato puree
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
8 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Optional gremolata to serve:
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 finely chopped garlic clove

Cook the fennel and chick peas in boiling water for 5 minutes and drain. Roast the bell pepper under the broiler/on the grill, rotating it periodically until the skin is charred black all over. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and dice to the same size as the fennel pieces.

To make the dressing, mix the tomato puree and red wine vinegar until they form a smooth red sauce. Gradually beat in the olive oil – it’s important to add it very gradually and incorporate each addition thoroughly so that a nice smooth emulsion is formed. Add just enough dressing to the salad to coat the vegetables – you probably won’t need all that you made.

If you want to serve with the gremolata, mix the parsley, lemon and garlic and sprinkle on top. This adds to the complexity of flavors, but to be honest I think the salad stands alone pretty well.


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