February 2, 2009
My girlfriends and I threw a bridal shower for our friend Emily on Saturday night. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill shower, by any means. It was at night, for one thing. And we traded dainty cups of tea for icy blood orange margaritas. Oh, and one other thing: the bride was already married! (She went and had such a quick engagement that we didn’t have time to fête her before the nuptials; thankfully, we (and she) subscribe to the better late than never philosophy.) All in all, the tequila and the darkness and the married lady made for a great bridal shower.
Surprising no one, I jumped at the chance to cook for the shower. I’ll admit that the first item on the menu was the margaritas. But today’s recipe was the second thing I added to the menu. I knew Emily liked chickpeas and I did all sorts of brainstorming for a chickpea dish. Again and again, I came back to a chickpea salad that has become a staple for us since I discovered it on Orangette.
Not willing to relinquish my original margarita plan, I decided to give the chickpea salad a latin twist to fit our fiesta theme. I traded the lemon juice in the original recipe for lime juice and used grated manchego in place of grated parmesan. I also threw in some minced cilantro and finely chopped red onion. But I heeded Molly’s keys to the recipe: a good quality canned bean and excellent olive oil. Salt (I used kosher) is important too; taste as you go until you’ve got just enough to make all the flavors sing.
The original recipe is hard to beat, but this incarnation was pretty great too. The lime juice and olive oil melt the manchego into an almost creamy vinaigrette that wraps up the meaty beans. And the flecks of purple onion and grassy herbs give a little pop of brightness, both in terms of color and flavor. It was right at home with the margaritas and, even more importantly, it met the guest of honor’s high chickpea standards.
3 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons best quality olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced red onions
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup loosely packed shredded manchego cheese
big pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and stir gently to mix. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve immediately, or chill, covered, until serving.
Yield: 6-8 servings