Salads: Love them? Hate them? Nothing them?
Mmmmm? This is a difficult one.
When I was a small child, I don’t remember ever having salad. Then at some point in the latter half of the eighties, Ireland must have discovered iceberg lettuce. And thus began the many crimes against salad that my poor home country is so guilty of. Wet. Limp. Tasteless. Familiar to anyone?
“Eat your salad, it’s good for you” my mam would growl across the dinner table; leaving my brother and me with the firm belief that anything good for you couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, taste nice.
Then the nineties rolled around and with them the Celtic tiger. We were suddenly awash with such foreign goodies as sun-blush tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Things in the salad department were suddenly starting to look up. And in fairness, we’ve come a long way since then: like Iarnród Éireann, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.
These Australians on the other hand, they have this whole salad-making lark down. They know their stuff and they are not afraid to flaunt it. This recipe was given to me by The Fella’s sister; she’s a great cook and always willing to share her secrets. I think this salad actually started out as a way to serve feta from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. But, it has now morphed almost beyond all recognition into a hearty dinner salad (yes, a salad can be hearty!). Just serve with a crispy bread roll on the side and you’ve a super tasty meal for two.
I know some of you will be tempted to skimp on the garlic, but don’t be afraid of it! It totally makes this salad. You’d do it an injustice by skimping, and salads have been done enough injustice already.
Yumbo feta and chickpea salad
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced into half rings
1 red chilli, with the seeds
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red pepper (or capsicum), sliced into long strips
Juice of 1 large lemon
Large handful of mixed leaves
Small bunch of coriander leaves
200 g (7 oz) soft feta, broken into chunks
400 g tin of chick peas (well rinsed)
In a large pan, sweat the onion, chilli and garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for a further 2-3 minutes (you don’t want the pepper to loose its bite). Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Once cool, add the lemon juice. This juice and oil mixture will be the dressing for the salad.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the various salad and coriander leaves. Add the chickpeas, feta and cooled onion, pepper, chilli and garlic mixture. Toss together and serve with some crusty bread.
High in calcium, protein (from the chickpeas) and vampire-repellent garlic, this salad is totally good for you.
And it tastes like more, and then some more, and then just a little bit more, and then……………
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