The year I was born, my dad built us a house in the middle of nowhere on a patch of forest land that belonged in his family.
He painted the little house an unsuitable shade of yellow that looked so spectacularly out of place, you’d think nature was playing a trick on you.
He moved us out there, intent on becoming a farmer, and this was my home for the first years of my life.
I could write a book about our adventures; a sweeping saga of our struggles, the delicate art of farming, and how we underestimated the land.
But today’s tale is about the radishes and other vegetables we grew that first year.
The first year was probably our best year; we had running water, chickens in the coop and the vegetables grew, and we’d yet to experience the gnawing hunger that’ll come.
We grew vegetables that year; and when my mom and siblings were away at work and school respectively, my dad spent the day tending the land under the quiet harsh sun, while I played away nearby underneath the breezy shades. He swears this is where I came to love solitude.
We grew everything… sweet potatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, black-eyed peas, bananas, radishes… the mango and papaya trees just grew on their own.
“Too much radish!” that’s how my mom remembers it; we harvested more radish than we knew what to do with them. As baskets of radish piled up, she feared we’d have to eat radish for the remainder of our lives on the farm… a pity since we weren’t really radish eaters, I don’t think we even liked them. Luckily we found a few restaurants and hotels to take them off our hands.
I thought of that story when I found this salad, it’s the first salad (or anything for that matter) with radish that I’ve been tempted to make. I loved the idea of this salad too much not to try it.
How could I not want to make this? – it makes me want to grow my own vegetables, and although I don’t really remember that first year, there’s still that nostalgic tinge; perhaps from all those stories I’ve heard.
It’s a simple rustic salad inspired by this black chickpea verrine from La Tartine Gourmande, flavourful with thinly sliced beets, carrots, apples, onions and radishes, the dressing is refreshingly citrusy and peppery. I loved the heat from the ginger and pepper flakes, subtle sweetness from the honey tempered with the tartness from the vinegar and lime.
I used brown chickpeas in this salad, which I found in the bulk bin section under ‘heirloom beans’ at my local Whole Foods.
Brown chickpeas are usually smaller with a deep nutty flavour, they take a little longer to cook, are sturdier in texture but can be used just like you would the regular pale yellow chickpea.
This salad can also easily be made vegan by using avocado in place of smoked trout, and agave or maple syrup in the dressing instead of honey.
Brown Chickpeas, Smoked Trout, Beets, Apples & Radish Salad
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or fresh)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (I used Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (coriander)
- 2 (heaped) cups of cooked brown chickpeas
- 300 g smoked trout, (I used 4 cans of Trader Joe’s Smoked Trout)
- 2 medium carrots finely diced
- 1 medium roasted golden beets, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 large red apple, cored and finely diced
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 4 small radishes, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, to taste
- 1/4 cup roasted pecans (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon large-flaked finishing salt
- Combine sea salt, lime juice, ground ginger and garlic in a small bowl
- Add vinegar, olive oil and honey, and whisk to emulsify
- Season with red pepper flakes, taste and check the seasoning
- Stir in cilantro and set aside
- In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, smoked trout, carrots and beets
- Add apples, onions and radishes and toss gently
- Add dressing and toss gently
- Sprinkle with black sesame seed, roasted pecans, finishing salt and serve