The endless summer continues, and cool salads are still the preference. Following that vein, chick peas or garbanzos, as we call ’em, is one of my favorite dishes. Traditionally, we serve chick peas as a stewed bean dish over rice. Everyone these days is familiar with hummus, that versatile appetizer made with chick peas. Chick peas are also great in salads, as in the famous Three Bean Salad. I make a different chick pea salad. Here, it is paired with olives and fennel.
Now, fennel is something that I discovered back in my young manhood. We never heard of it in East Harlem. Once I discovered it, I fell in love with the thing. It is a flowering plant that yields a pale green bulb with a fragrance akin to anise (as in anisette). It is crunchy and slightly sweet, and very popular in Mediterranean cuisine. It’s health benefits are legion. In the past, fennel was used as a cure for indigestion, constipation, and flatulence. I don’t know about its curative effects, but is it high in Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. The thing is good for you.
This is the archetypical summer recipe. No need to light up the stove, or heat anything. Canned chick peas are fine. The whole thing takes less that 20 minutes to prepare.
CHICK PEA SALAD
3 cups chick peas (if canned, rinsed and drained)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
18 large black olives, pitted and halved
2/3 cup finely diced fresh fennel
2 tablespoons minced scallions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon black olive paste (available in fancy food shops or stores)
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, sliced in 1/2-moon shapes (for garnish)
1 hard-boil egg, sliced (for garnish)
1. Place the chick peas in a serving bowl. Add the garlic, oregano, olives, fennel, scallions and parsley. Mix to combine.
2. In a cruet or small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the olives, olive paste and olive oil. Pour over the chick pea mix and toss gently.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir to mix again. Garnish with tomato and egg, and serve.
Yield: 6 servings.