Lately, our weather has been topsy-turvy!
One day, I come home shivering and asking for a fire in the fireplace, and the very next day I find myself using the H word, even thought it is only 75°F / 20°C.
However, this weekend, it really is going up to 93°F / 30°C both days – much earlier than usual.
It's easy to make light food in genuinely hot weather, but we are mentally still in comfort-food mode. We still want full, rich, flavors, because our bewildered minds and bodies tell us it's still winter… or at least early spring.
Enter my new favorite salad. It is so full of flavor that it makes me forget it is healthy. It also has that comfort feeling we crave.
It packs a punch, brimming with earthy Moroccan flavors. Cinnamon, preserved lemons, honey. And I serve it over spinach or escarole. If the salad is warmed, the greens wilt to perfection.
Every year, I make a batch or two of preserved lemons just for dishes like this. I highly recommend making some if you have lots of lemons. If you don't have them, some grated lemon zest will do the trick.
Everything else is readily available, and it comes together in a couple of minutes (but does need an hour or so of marinating for the flavors to meld).
It is also a wonderful meal for vegetarians, vegans, and those who are dairy- and gluten-free.
Shahia tayebah! شهية طيبة
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
1 large red onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup golden raisins, softened in water
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 preserved lemon, rind only, diced
juice of 2 fresh lemons
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon light honey
1 tablespoon light honey
4 cups baby spinach leaves, or torn escarole leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
pomegranate molasses for drizzling
Sauté the diced onion in the olive oil until onion is softened and has lost its bite. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, and add the onions, raisins, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, preserved lemon, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey in a large bowl. Toss to combine and leave to marinate for at least an hour. Do not be tempted to add salt.
Line a serving bowl with the baby spinach leaves and top with the chickpeas and sprinkle with parsley. Place a dollop of yoghurt in the center, sprinkle with pistachios, and drizzle with the pomegranate molasses.