The weather this past weekend was unbearably hot. It was sort of muggy, by Southern California's standards and there was absolutely no air flow, no breeze, no nothing. My apartment doesn't have air conditioning and when I turned on my fans all it did was just swirl around the hot air. In this kind of heat, the last thing I ever want to do is cook.
So Saturday after Mark and I went out to brunch I was loping around watching Food Network, debating whether or not to go to the gym. This new show called "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger" was on. It's hosted by a nutritionist rather than a chef and as you can deduce from the title, it aims to make heathy cooking appealing. Like Giada in the early days, Ellie is somewhat stiff and awkward, however I still kind of like the show. She doesn't beat you over the head with fat grams and calorie counts but she still gives useful, health related tips. In fact, taking a page from Nigella, Ellie makes it clear that the likes to eat. She eagerly licks spoons, spatulas and beaters and she always finds a way to justify eating dark chocolate because of the antioxidents. The show has very nice production values and her recipes are intrieging. A couple weeks ago she made macaroni and cheese that used a combination of pureed butternut squash and lowfat milk in lieu of a bechamel sauce. Isn't that clever?
This past weekend she made this chickpea salad. You know my feelings on chickpeas. (Love 'em). I liked the idea that the salad has two dressings, one oil based and one yogurt based, and I especially loved the idea that there is no actual cooking involved, just a moderate amount of chopping and stirring, which could easliy be done without breaking a sweat. Perfect for a hot summer evening.
(For the salad)
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 cups baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
(For the Cumin Vinaigrette)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
(For the Orange Yogurt Sauce)
1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt, which unlike regular yogurt, is actually really high in fat and calories. I don't think that Ellie would approve. Sorry, Ellie.)
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
In a medium bowl combine the chickpeas, parsley and onion.
To make the Cumin Vinaigrette whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to combine.
To make the Orange Yogurt Sauce, stir together the yogurt, orange zest, orange juice and honey.
Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves. Top with the yogurt sauce and a sprinkle of mint.
I was pretty sure that I'd like this salad, considering how much I adore chickpeas, but I have to say, it was pretty fantastic. There are several levels of flavor going on that really makes it sophisticated. The cumin vinaigrette is lemony yet with a nutty warmth that works really well with the creamy chickpeas and the crisp, sweet red onion. Contrasting with the cumin is the orange infused yogurt sauce, at once rich, sweet and cool. The fresh spinach adds a little more substance to the salad while the flecks of mint give everything a lightness.
On the show, Ellie served it with lamb chops marinated in garlic and fresh oregano as well as zucchini and tomato kebabs that were skewered on sprigs of rosemary. I however, served the salad as an accompaniment to mini lamb burgers which I nestled in pitas and slathered with a fantastic, creamy tzatziki sauce. Sadly, I totally undercooked the burgers and the results, while beautifully browned with perfect grill marks on the outside, were completely raw in the middle. Completely. Raw. At least the salad was a success.