Make a mental note: when it’s too hot to cook, you’ll make this for dinner. Vegetarian? Vegan? On a budget? Looking for something healthy, but satisfying? Just plain hungry? This recipe will fit the bill. This is a Mark Bittman original recipe. Truth be told: I have a sweet spot for ol’ Bittman, but this recipe is particularly tasty, and functional. The requirements are simple: chop a couple vegetables, and stir a few things together, and you have a light summer meal at your disposal. Chickpeas, curry powder, red bell pepper, lime, scallions, cilantro, peas, and coconut milk: that’s all it takes.
Bittman recommends cooking the chickpeas from scratch over using their canned cousins, but that requires too much planning for me. Instead I used the boxed chickpeas that come in a juicebox-like receptacle, and I found that they were far superior to the canned variety. They lack the tinny flavor, and have a creamier texture, although I’m sure regular canned chickpeas would be just fine. The most important element in this recipe is the elixir of curry, coconut milk, and lime — earthy heat from the curry; creamy and slightly sweet from the coconut milk; tart from the lime. The flavors are well balanced, and it yields the most beautiful burnished yellow color.
I took a nod from Bittman by mixing the salad with some arugula to give it a little more bulk, and thus allowing it to serve as more of a meal. Based on my experience, I would say that the cilantro is purely optional. I added it in on the first night that I ate it, but forget to mix it into the leftovers, and it didn’t make a huge difference. I also topped mine off with a little bit of feta cheese. I’m not sure if this would be considered an appropriate combination or not, and frankly, I don’t care. I loved it, but follow the judgement of your palate. All I know is that come August, this recipe is going to provide you some relief. It lasts for about 5 days in the fridge, so it makes a great item to have on hand for when you’re feeling peckish.
Curry Chickpea Salad (slightly adjusted from Mark Bittman’s original recipe)
serves 4-6 as a main course, 6-8 as a side dish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, or more to taste
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut milk, or more to taste
- 4 cups cooked or drained/rinsed canned chickpeas
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine lime juice, curry powder, coconut milk and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
- Add the chickpeas, bell pepper, scallions, and peas to the bowl and toss gently until everything is coated. Add more coconut milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the salad seems dry.
- Let the salad stand for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to distribute the dressing. When you’re ready to eat, stir in cilantro. Taste, and adjust the seasoning and moisture with additional curry powder, coconut milk, or lime. Serve cold or at room temperature.
- Add 1 cup cooked rice or other cooked grain in step 2.
- Toss with arugula, baby spinach, or chopped lettuce just prior to serving.
- Serve with feta cheese.
- All of the above.
June 24, 2015