A simple yet wow-the-crowd Mediterranean recipe for side or main: Smoky minted chickpeas and feta with kalamata olives
By Steve Petusevsky
Also called the garbanzo (Spanish), bengal gram (Indian), hummus (Hebrew), hamaz (Arabic) and Cicer Arietinum (Latin, botanical), this legume can find its way into soups, stews and even breads and pizzas.
In Italy, garbanzos are made into the most incredible pancakes called farinata. They are fried in olive oil and wrapped hot in brown paper after being sprinkled with coarse salt.
And I can't forget the panzelle I enjoyed in the chaotic street markets of Palermo. They look like little squares of polenta until they are lowered into a vat of simmering olive oil where they expand into airy pillows made from chickpea flour. They are placed on a semolina roll, drizzled with fresh lemon juice and dusted with parmesan.
At 2 a.m. in the oldest plaza in Seville, I've popped chickpeas in my mouth after they've been pan sauteed with garlic and paprika. Now you know what I mean when I talk about their versatility.
I recall sitting in an ancient fishing village on a Greek island watching the fishermen return to the dock while I spread crushed chickpeas mashed with green olive oil and garlic on crispy farmers' bread.
I've enjoyed them simmered in ceramic tagines in Morocco.
So many unforgettable food memories from such a tiny legume. Here's a simple recipe for Smoky Minted Chickpeas and Feta With Kalamata Olives that I make when I want to wow a crowd.
SMOKY MINTED CHICKPEAS AND FETA WITH KALAMATA OLIVES
Smoked paprika gives this salad a warm ruby color and smoky flavor that combines well with pungent feta and cooling mint. You can mix this salad with couscous or serve over a bed of cooked couscous as an entree.
Per serving: 152 calories, 27 percent calories from fat, 5 grams total fat, .8 gram saturated fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams carbohydrates,
5 grams total fiber, 2 grams total sugars, 16 grams net carbs, 7 grams protein, 121 milligrams sodium.
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