Roasted Red Pepper & Chickpea Salad
As I near the end of my pregnancy, I’m starting to hit all the positive pregnant boxes. For example, I clean for fun. Every day. All the time. I just cleaned all the doors in the house and spent two glorious hours using Q-tips and Goo-Off to get rid of the splatter left by the painters. Which leads to the next ticked box: tying up loose ends. In the last week and a half, we’ve had the house painted dark green; bought, registered and insured a car; bought a carseat; destroyed and rebuilt our ancient and dilapidated deck and wrought-iron balustrade; applied for the Baby Bonus; purchased curtains (which we’ve been living without for years now. Years!); and did I mentioned that I’ve cleaned everything?
In between all of this madness, I have also continued to cook and freeze, cook and freeze. To the point where when you open the freezer door something inevitably comes flying out at your head. It’s usually something harmless like a bag of peas. But the other day I nearly got a Tupperware full of rock hard homemade tomato sauce in the face. No matter! I feel no need to stop! (Cooking, that is. Freezing, maybe.)
My recent concoctions have included a repeat of that drool-worthy fennel and cauliflower gratin, enough amatriciana to satisfy a normal person for months, strawberry rhubarb compote, French onion soup, apple muffins, salami and green olive pasta sauce, and an unnecessarily enormous batch of roasted red peppers.
The red peppers (capsicum for you Australians and Brits) were on super sale so naturally I bought about 10. And forgetting how much I like them raw in salads and stirfries, I roasted them all resulting in buckets and buckets of roasted red pepper flesh begging to be frozen.
Remembering the Tupperware, I declined and have been brainstorming ways to use them ever since. The first night we had a few neighbors over for dinner so to start I sliced some bread, smothered it with fresh ricotta, and piled lots of chopped roasted red pepper on top with a big drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. It was appreciated, I think. I even gave some to the dog, which I didn’t learn was a mistake until the next morning when I found them on the living room floor.
Then yesterday I decided to make a salad – even though we were having rigatoni all’amatriciana for dinner, naturally – with the goal of using up as many roasted red peppers as possible. The only thing outnumbering roasted red peppers in the kitchen was cans of chickpeas, which just happen to be a perfect accompaniment, I think, to the sweet slipperiness of the vegetable. I smashed it all together until it looked like something that could be eaten in a sandwich. I added a pinch of sumac, and then a few more, and, after much tasting, some lemon juice, olive oil, capers and some caper juice. I contemplated adding some feta but decided that it could always be added later. Same for canned tuna. This way I have an open slate – perfect as a dip, sandwich filler, lettuce topper or straight up. Perfect with some chopped parsley, cheese, or dried herbs.
So good that it won’t be in my fridge for long. And definitely won’t make it to the freezer.
ROASTED RED PEPPER & CHICKPEA SALAD
Measurements are beyond approximate so feel free to just dump everything into a bowl, mash it all around and taste away. Besides tuna, parsley and feta, I think chopped olives, fresh mint or your favorite spicy something-or-other would be divine mixed up here. If you don’t have sumac, don’t worry. If you do, this salad will be a great reminder of why.
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 – 3 roasted red peppers*, chopped
1 tablespoon capers (with some juice)
a generous drizzle of olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground sumac
1/4 cup Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
Put the chickpeas & roasted red peppers in a big bowl. Use a fork or a potato masher to smoosh everything together until the number of smooshed chickpeas outnumbers the whole ones. Add the capers and all the other ingredients to taste.
Serve with some pita, stuffed into a sandwich, or on a bed of lightly dressed lettuce. It will keep in the fridge for a week.
* You can make your own or use the jarred kind. There are countless ways to make this at home; I roasted them on a tray in a 400F/200C oven until the skins were brown, but you can roast them under the broiler or over a gas flame. Once they are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard the skin, remove the seeds and enjoy.