Warm chickpea salad w/ coriander and Aleppo pepper dressing

This is one of those end-of-the-week-let’s-see-what-I-can-find-in-my-fridge kind of recipes. Celebrating simplicity and humble ingredients, because less is more and humble isn’t boring. Chickpeas are one of my favourite foods ever. They are super versatile and packed full of nutrients: they are really high in fiber (raffinose to be precise that our bacteria loves munching on) and protein (lean protein); they contain folate, iron, phosphorus, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Chickpeas, just like all pulses, contain several components that, when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, may help prevent the development of various chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

I’m a fan of dry chickpeas. Yes, it takes a bit more effort to cook them, but the trick is to cook a huge batch and put what you don’t need in the freezer. Cooking in bulk is the way forward, the freezer is your friend! The good thing about chickpeas is that, even when you freeze them, they’ll still be loose in the container, so you can just get whatever you need out whenever you need it. Plus, the sweetness, the texture and the flavour of dry chickpeas is way superior than the tinned ones. But if you are lazy or in a rush… go tinned!

Chickpeas can take really big flavours. They are great mashed, half mashed, roasted, dried and turned into a snack or if you are a chickpea freak like me, eaten straight out of the can (or the bowl when they are soaking). They remind me of home a lot, although the ones back home are more plump and delicious than the ones you get here. Isn’t it amazing how nostalgic food can be? You can be transported to the other side of the world by a simple smell or a familiar ingredient. People in Spain and the Mediterranean love chickpeas. My mum used to cook them all the time – she added them to chicken soups and stews. I’m a bit more adventurous than that, I like to make salads with them, different types of hummus, cassoulets, bean stews, use them as a base for vegetarian burgers or dry them out with lots of spices and have them as a snack.

If you have no idea how to cook dry chickpeas, don’t worry, you don’t need a masters degree for it. All you do, is place them in cold water before you go to bed and they’ll be ready to cook the next day. This is not an exact science so you can cook them whenever you are ready (morning, afternoon or evening), it won’t make much of a difference. Then you just boil them for 40-50 mins until they are tender and that’s it. They key is to soak them overnight. Soaking them, not only helps reduce the cooking time, it also helps break down ingredients that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, and removes some harmful substances in raw legumes.

If you wanna know what else I managed to find in my fridge, here you have it…


Serves 4 as a main

500g dry chickpeas (this will double in volume and make a huge batch, but the point is that you can then put the leftovers in the freezer)
200g giant cous cous
A handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder

Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Coriander and Aleppo pepper sauce

A big bunch fresh coriander, stalks and all
2 tsp Aleppo pepper (Turkish chilli flakes). You can use regular chilli flakes, but I highly recommend using the Aleppo ones as the flavour is so much better

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
A splash organic raw apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1 – Soak the chickpeas in cold water the night before you are planning to cook them. You can even cook them a few days in advance and put them in the fridge until you need them for the salad. When you are ready to cook them, put them in a pan and cover them with COLD water. Add bit of salt and cook for 40-50 mins or until tender.

2 – Boil de cous cous until tender. It normally takes around 10-15 mins. Drain and set aside.

3 – We will only be using 3 cups of cooked chickpeas for this recipe, the rest can go in your fridge or freezer. Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat and add the 3 cups of chickpeas. Roast slowly in the pan for 15 mins, add the sun-dried tomatoes, ground ginger and garlic and cook for a further 2 mins. Season to taste.

4 – To make the coriander dressing, wash the bunch of coriander really well and dry it with a tea towel. I use the stalks, however, they give the sauce a bit of a bitter taste. I like that a lot, it goes really well with the sweetness of the chickpeas, but if you are not a big fan, just use the leaves and use the stalks for something else. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and sauce done.

5 – To plate up, just place the warm (or cold) chickpea salad on a plate and drizzle the sauce over generously. It tastes even better the next day!

Notes: The sauce is divine with grilled meat, fish or halloumi, sandwiches, other types of salads and drizzled over carrot and ginger soup.

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