There is a white pomegranate tree on the property that has been teasing me for the last year. But finally it is dripping with fruit, and I’ve managed to salvage some from the birds. Here is a simple salad I made as a welcome treat for some friends that came to visit over the weekend. We ate it outside on the patio with focaccia and some cold beers.
This recipe is a mashup of two different recipes by deli counter artiste and king of my heart, Yotam Ottolenghi. If you’re looking to bulk up your cookbook collection, start with one of his exquisite tomes like Plenty or Sweet.
You’ll see I’m not too keen on exact measurements. And that’s because they’re a waste of time, and they’ll hold you back from learning the ropes, trusting your senses, and cooking with confidence.
Obviously if you’re cooking for yourself you shouldn’t use 20 eggplants and 1 whole head of garlic. Didn’t add enough salt or vinegar? Taste it and add more! Start with conservative quantities, especially of condiments and spices, and continuously taste as you go. And if you do use a bit too much of something, A. it’s probably not inedible and B. what a great learning opportunity to think critically, develop your sense of taste, and adapt for next time!
1 or 2 cups chickpeas (dried or canned, also known as garbanzo beans)
- 1 ripe mango, cut into smallish chunks
- 1 small eggplant (or maybe half of a big one)
- ¼ onion
- a handful of some fresh, bright herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and chives
- Whatever salad greens seem nice (lettuce, arugula, kale, collards)
- A few cloves of garlic, minced
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- curry powder (link to make your own below!)
- maybe some seeds and nuts to top, like black sesame and pistachios!
- If using canned chickpeas, simply drain and rinse all the goo off. It tastes gross in my opinion.
- If using dried chickpeas, soak them in water the night before you plan to use them. Make sure there is enough space in the container and water for them to expand to two or three times their size and still be covered in water. Add a palmful of salt, swish it all around, loosely cover and leave out on the counter. Skip this step at your peril! Soaking the chickpeas helps breakdown some of the harder-to-digest carbohydrates, relieving pressure on your gut and significantly decreasing farting!
- To cook, drain and rinse your chickpeas, throw them in a pot with plenty of water, maybe a bit more salt if you weren’t generous enough last night, and bring it to a boil. Cook until chickpeas are soft but not mushy, maybe 45 minutes. Just keep tasting. You’ll know when they’re done. You can also do this in a pressure cooker much faster! 10 minutes on high pressure. Drain your chickpeas and let them cool on the counter.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Chop up your eggplant into chunks. Don’t worry about all that jazz with salting it and letting it sit in a colander for hours to sweat. Modern varieties of eggplant have had the bitterness bred out of them, so unless you’re time traveling, this shouldn’t be necessary. Just toss the eggplant with plenty of salt and lots of olive oil; like more olive oil than you think seems correct. There should be a thin but noticeable coating on the bottom of the pan.
- Roast in the oven until the eggplant are super duper soft, about 30 minutes.
the Everything Else:
- Thinly slice your onion and let the pieces sit in lemon juice for 15 minutes or so. It takes away the bite.
- Roughly chop your herbs. Be sure to include the stems of parsley and cilantro, unless they are very woody.
- Combine chickpeas, mango, eggplant, herbs, greens, onions and garlic, and seeds or nuts in a bowl. Splash on a couple glugs of olive oil, the onion-y lemon juice, two or three big (use all five fingers) pinches of curry powder (here's a link to make your own!), and mix. Add salt too. Enough so that the food tastes bright and exciting and zings on your tongue. Maybe start with a small palmful and go from there.