This fresh tasting, with a burst-of-lemon, salad is picnic-perfect. The star of this dish is the Mediterranean staple known as ceci in Italian or you may know it as garbanzo beans. They are rich in calcium and excellent sources of protein and fiber. I always have cans of this versatile legume on hand for soups, salads, snacks and hummus. However, if you have never purchased a bag of these dried seeds and cooked them, well, this recipe will explain how … and why you should.
- 1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
- 2 1/2 tablespoons course salt
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
- 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon course salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Medium)
- 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 cups roasted (or grilled) asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Sea salt
- Lemon pepper
- Place the chickpeas in a large pot and cover with water. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons course salt, cover and allow to soak overnight.
- Drain the chickpeas and put back in the pot with the onion, garlic cloves, rosemary and salt. Cover with 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook uncovered for an hour.
- When the chickpeas are cooked, remove the onion and reserve for another dish (at the end of this recipe). Remove the bare stems of rosemary and the garlic and discard. Drain the chickpeas but do not throw out the cooking liquid!
- Using a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest. Toss in the chickpeas, stirring to incorporate the dressing. Add the asparagus and season with salt and lemon pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve at room temperature.
The reason you will want to use dried chickpeas and cook your own is that they really do taste better than canned and they fill the kitchen with a delicious aroma! The “bonus” is that the water used to cook them turns into a very flavorful broth that can be used to make a quick soup or a simple sauce for vegetables, such as roasted cauliflower or broccoli, or to sauce your favorite pasta, as shown below.
To make the sauce:
- Reserved onion and cooking liquid
- 8-ounces mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Place the onion and 1 cup of the cooking liquid in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and then transfer to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mascarpone until completely incorporated. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Serve over your favorite pasta or vegetable. I used orecchiette and added some ceci, Italian parsley and grated Parmesan.