It's officially summer. Summer makes me think of picnic-ing in the park, reading a book by the beach and running after the ice cream truck when I was a kid. That's my idealized summer. In reality, summer for most of us still means going to work even if it's gorgeous out, and squeezing in some outdoor time during the week. I love the concept of picnics but the closest I've come to one this year, was last week when I bought a taco from the Endless Summer truck and ate it sitting down by the parking lot around the corner. That's why I'm going to do a series of posts this summer on perfect picnic food. Hopefully to encourage you, and me, to plan some meals in the great outdoors, or at least near a tree. I made this little salad one night when it was too humid to think about using the stove and I had a lot of leftovers from the mixed greens salad I made for dinner. I threw this together thinking it would benefit from a night in the fridge and I'd have another lunch (or dinner) without cooking. It worked. I decided to make this my first post in the picnic series, because even though it's not novel, it's easy and hearty, no need to cook pasta or another grain. It's the type of salad that you can and should dress the night before. It's an all-in-one package picnic food, no need for separate bottles of salad dressing or a knife. Unless you're the type that has a wicker basket, and a wine glass holder for the grass (I've seen this in person), unfussy food is the only food you should picnic with. And, if you are that person, here's hoping the cops arrest you for so unabashedly drinking in the park.
Make this the night before or at least a couple of hours for the flavors to combine.
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 of a large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a red onion, diced fine
1 garlic clove, minced
Large handful of cilantro or parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon cumin (or to taste)
Drizzle of honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime before serving
Rinse the chickpeas well and place in a large bowl. Set aside. Meanwhile boil 1 cup of water. Place chopped onion and garlic in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let sit for 1 minute to mellow out the raw onion, garlic taste. Strain.
Combine chickpeas with the chopped red pepper, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Next make the vinaigrette by combining the vinegar, cumin and honey in a bowl. Whisk as you pour in the olive oil to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad and toss well. Taste again to see if it needs more salt. Before serving, squeeze half a lime over it to brighten the flavors a bit.