I have in my hot little hands, my friends, an absolute score of a cookbook: Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries. This book is divine, full of beautiful family recipes and remembrances, and stunning photographs. I own another of her books, Venezia: Food and Dreams, and it too is a work of art. Falling Cloudberries is, for me, a little more accessible though, with recipes I can easily make, and ingredients to which I have ready access.
For dinner last night, I made one of Kiros' recipes, for Chickpea, Feta, and Cilantro salad. A perfect salad. The huge amount of fresh herbs; parsley, scallions, cilantro, and mint......the bright acidity of lemon...the salty creaminess of feta...a bit of heat from chiles...What else needs to be said? In short, this salad was an utter delight.
I did some minor adapting, as you do. Rather than one can of chickpeas (garbanzos), I used two, and therefore squeezed an additional lemon over it. I didn't bother increasing the amount of herbs or feta, and it didn't suffer one bit. And, I must admit, I cut the amount of olive oil by half. I couldn't quite wrap my head (hips) around a whole entire cup of olive oil. Delicious or not, it is getting on to summer, people, and these curves don't need any extra padding.
Without further ado, a simply delightful salad:
Chickpea, Feta, and Cilantro Salad - Adapted from Falling Cloudberries
- serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side
*Note* I have adapted the salad somewhat from the original. That's what you do with cooking. Especially salads. Get inspired, and adapt a recipe to meet your needs. Go for it.
2 - 14 oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 Tbs for cooking onions and garlic
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of red chili flakes, to taste (or fresh red chili, chopped finely)
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
4 large scallions (green onions), chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
juice of 2 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, over moderately low heat, and gently sauté the onions with a sprinkle of salt, until they are soft, translucent, and golden. Don't fry them over a high heat, you don't want to brown them, but rather sweeten and cook them slowly. This took about 10 or 12 minutes for me. Now add the chopped garlic and chiles and cook for a few seconds longer, just until you can smell the garlic. Add the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the chickpeas. Leave to cool completely.
Once cool, add your chopped herbs, feta, lemon juice, and olive oil, and stir gently to combine. Taste for seasoning, remembering that the feta will add quite a bit of saltiness to the salad.
Serve at room temperature. This will keep for a day or two in the fridge, but after that, the herbs will darken and go mushy. To eat leftovers, let the salad come back to room temperature before serving, and perhaps add a little drizzle of olive oil if the chickpeas have absorbed it all.
Have a delightful day!