Monday, December 29, 2008

North African-Style Chickpea Salad and Lessons From 2008

Boy, 2008 was weird, wasn’t it? I can’t remember a year that’s been more at odds with itself. But there were lessons (note: I almost typed “lesions”) to be learned. Like:

1) When playing Hide and Seek with a three-year-old, it’s perfectly acceptable to hide by standing directly in front of the child. He’ll get a kick out of it, and you won’t risk not being found.

2) Unemployment is fun and educational! For one thing, you discover that your city block is 12,000 times more terrifying during the day, when the junkies roam freely and yell at stoplights. For another thing … actually, that’s it.

3) “When are you guys getting married?” is the most headache-inducing question on Earth, right after “So, how do you want that spike extracted from your face?”

4) Do not go to the bathroom in Jaipur’s Amber Fort. I’m pretty sure it’s a real-life Hellmouth. Otherwise, India is pretty awesome.

5) When your landlord says, “We’ll have it done tomorrow,” what he actually means is, “Who are you, why are you in my office, and where are my bagels?”

6) My job is pretty neat when we’re not arguing with management over whether or not we’ll be receiving health benefits next year. Also: new coffee machine!

7) Being a Mets fan may be hard, but it’s not nearly as difficult as being a Chicago Cubs or Detroit Lions fan. We may have blown the last two seasons ON THE FINAL DAY, but least we have Johan Santana and decent pizza. Also: *cry*

8) I don’t need to ever watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, because the commercials are enough to make me openly weep.

9) Worth the time: Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Role Models, Wall-E, the Sandwich Day episode of 30 Rock, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in general, sincerity = the new irony, Postcards From Yo Momma, watching old Heart videos on YouTube, Deb’s chocolate chip cookies, Drunk History, Literal A-Ha,, Flight of the Conchords, community organizers.

10) Not worth the time: pinkeye, another story about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe.

11) Bizarre food combinations occasionally work out: strawberries and balsamic vinegar, black beans and brownie mix, nectarines and blue cheese, cranberries and mint, and chickpeas and raisins. Which, coincidentally, brings us to today’s recipe, North African Style Chickpea Salad, from my new favorite culinary tome, Cook’s Illustrated Best Light Recipe book (also highlighted in today’s Serious Eats column about Barley Risotto).

Boasting six grams of fiber per serving and a 15-minute prep time, this neat little side dish is a grand ol’ accompaniment to … well, almost anything. I had some for lunch today alongside pineapple and The Boyfriend’s mom’s Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and it was like riding a unicorn in Valhalla. (Translation: very good.) The mint and raisin go together surprisingly well, and provide a nice counterpart to the savory chickpeas. Who knew?

Oh, one note: the nutrition information provided by Cook’s Illustrated, but the price calculations are my own. Enjoy!

North African-Style Chickpea Salad
Serves 6
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Best Light Recipe.

2 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, peeled and grated
½ cup raisins
2 Tablespoons fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed (about ½ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
salt and ground black pepper

1) In a large mixing or serving bowl, combine chickpeas, grated carrots, raisins and mint. Stir. 

2) In a separate small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Whisk it together, like you would a dressing. Pour over chickpea mixture and stir thoroughly to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or a little chilled. Great for picnics.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
200 calories, 7 g fat, $0.63

2 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed: $1.32
1 carrot, peeled and drained: $0.10
½ cup raisins: $0.35
2 Tablespoons fresh mint leaves: $1.50
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil: $0.23
1-1/2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon: $.20
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed (about ½ teaspoon): $0.03
½ teaspoon ground cumin: $0.01
½ teaspoon paprika: $0.02
salt and ground black pepper: $0.02
TOTAL: $3.78


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