chickpea salad with cumin vinaigrette

I often throw together a chickpea salad for lunch because it's quick, inexpensive, and can be eaten at room temperature. You see, we don't get the privilege of refrigerators at school. (Will someone please take one for the team and get mildly sick from food poisoning so we can blackmail the school into getting us one?)

But this salad is worthy of sitting next to a lamb burger. The cumin vinaigrette warms and rounds out the bright notes of salty feta, acidic vinaigrette, and bright lemon.

Sometimes, when you read a recipe, an additional toasting of an ingredient like spices or nuts seems like an extra hassle. I understand. But just remind yourself that that extra step wouldn't be in there if it didn't make a huge difference. A mix of cumin seeds and coarsely ground black pepper in a hot pan is positively intoxicating. 

After cooling the spices for five minutes, take the excuse to crush something with a big stick by grinding the spices and some oregano in a mortar and pestle. 

The spices get fried in hot oil with finely minced garlic, and then emulsified with red wine vinegar and olive oil to create a loose, fragrant vinaigrette.

I chopped some parsley and mint - the same herbs that were running throughout my burgers - sliced some scallion, and cut the rest of the cucumber I had grated into the tzatziki sauce into chunks. 

Tossed with big crumbles of feta and accented with lemon juice. So good it might vy for your attention, even in the presence of a lamb burger.

chickpea salad with cumin vinaigrette - adapted from Serious Eats
serves 4 as a side, 2 as entree


1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup +1/2 tablespoon olive oil, separate
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

chickpea salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 tablespoon mint
1/2 tablespoon parsley
1/4 cup feta, cubed or crumbled

Toast cumin and black pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat until it smells very fragrant. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then crush in mortar and pestle with oregano.

Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat until it ripples, then add the garlic for only about 30 seconds. Add and cook the spices for another 30 seconds before pouring in the vinegar. Stream in the 1/4 cup of olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion. Toss in chickpeas and season to taste. Simmer the chickpeas until softened, but not mushy - about 6-8 minutes.  

Mix the chickpeas with the remaining ingredients for the salad. Serve warm or at room temperature. Eat with this.