I watched an amusing little French movie the other day called Lâ€™Italien. Itâ€™s about a man of Algerian descent who passes himself off as an Italian in order to work at a Maserati dealership in Nice. His dotting parents on the other hand, think he works in Rome.
He agrees to honour his ailing fatherâ€™s request to fast for the month of Ramadan â€“ and thereon, the hilarity and hijinks ensues.
And while the movie has nothing to do with chickpeas or cumin, thereâ€™s a subtle food theme in the movie that had me thinking about foodâ€¦ aromatic, hearty and flavourful dishes from the Mediterranean. Thereâ€™s a funny scene where the protagonist almost slips and brings up couscous to his girlfriend whom heâ€™s also deceiving.
Thereâ€™s usually a jar of cooked chickpea in the fridge, cooked from scratch â€“ it tastes so much better and it’s so much more economical than canned.
Itâ€™s spicy and filing and uses simple and wholesome ingredients.
Cumin seeds add warmth to the flavour; I used ground cumin because I didnâ€™t have any cumin seeds.
Itâ€™s a great wintertime salad, convenient, with plenty leftover to eat over the course of a week, for lunch or quick dinners.
On a particularly cold dark night like today when I got home tired, I paired it with a side of savoury couscous, it works pretty well with quinoa too, or bulgur wheat.
Warm Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Garlic (from The Kitchn)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds (I used ground)
- 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 4 cups of cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans)
- Â½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- Â¾ cup Italian parsley, leaves only
- Small handful fresh mint leaves
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Â¾ pound English cucumber
- Flaky sea salt
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the cumin and crushed red pepper when the oil is hot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about one minute or until the cumin is toasted.
- The cumin will darken slightly in color, and smell toasty.
- Turn the heat to medium low and add the garlic.
- Cook, stirring frequently, for about three minutes or until the garlic is turning golden. Do not let it scorch or turn brown.
- Add the chickpeas and the chopped tomatoes and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas are warmed through and are shiny with oil. Turn off the heat.
- Strip any remaining stems away from the Italian parsley. Finely mince the parsley and the mint and toss this with the chickpeas.
- Stir the lemon juice and zest into the chickpeas.
- Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon.
- Dice the cucumber into small, 1/2-inch square cubes. Toss the cucumber with the chickpeas.
- Taste for salt and if necessary, add flaky sea salt to taste.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.