Fresh Vegetable Salad with Warm Spiced Chickpeas

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January 2, 2014

Our new favorite salad is one from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook. It's a combination of fresh and colorful vegetables that are lightly dressed in an ever so sweet vinaigrette then topped with warm sautéed chickpeas spiced with cumin, allspice and cardamom. We altered the recipe slightly and use canned chickpeas (instead of having to soak dried ones overnight), and opted for small cherry tomatoes in lieu of whole ones as they are much more flavorful, especially in winter. Add more or less of the vegetables and herbs as you desire, you can't go wrong. We served this vibrant and flavorful salad alongside grilled salmon.

Fresh Vegetable Salad with Warm Spiced Chickpeas  
Serves 4

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 small cucumbers, diced
10 radishes, diced
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Zest of one lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
1 12/ tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp superfine sugar (or one packet Splenda)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
Greek yogurt (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dice the cucumber (leaving skin on if using English, Japanese or Persian), radish, pepper and onion and add to a bowl. Cut tomatoes in half (or quarters if using larger tomatoes) and add to bowl. Finely chop cilantro and parsley, add to vegetables and stir until combined.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic and sugar and mix well to form a dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over vegetable mixture and lightly toss.

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Toss the chickpeas in the spices until well coated. Heat the remaining olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat and lightly fry chickpeas, about 2-3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don't stick. Keep warm.

Arrange vegetables around the outer edge of a platter, keeping a space in the center. Spoon the warm chickpeas in the center and serve. You can drizzle Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy, if desired.