Monday, June 1, 2009

Soothing My Impatience

I have such a short time to wait. The day is almost upon us. I’m prepared, if a little nervous. I have lists of thing’s I’ll need. I have ideas for continuing this regular communication. Just a short time now. Just until Tuesday. The big day. My Christmas in June. The first offering from Featherstone Fruits and Vegetables, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm to which I subscribe.

What will be in the box? I’ve got a pretty good idea: salad greens and spinach and, best of all, snappy, sweet, super-fresh asparagus, all grown organically and with a special kind of love.

But while Tuesday afternoon is coming soon, it’s not soon enough. What to do until then? It’s all summery and I want to grill and I want salads with my grilled food. Perky salads that cut through the smoky flavors of grilled meats and my stodgy lentil burgers. I can’t buy supermarket lettuce now! That would be akin to blasphemy!

But a salad it will be, one that I can make easily when my pantry and refrigerator are well-stocked (as they usually are). My patio herb garden is reasonably well-stocked as well, although it seems rather puny when I think of the good stuff brimming with potential in the June fields at Featherstone Fruits and Vegetables. Still, I’ll celebrate porch bounty, too.

I might as well get into good vinaigrette shape as well. I know from the experience of subscribing to the CSA for two years that I’ll be making a lot of them over the next month, and I couldn’t be happier. The chickpea and olive salad I present here has a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and lots of garlic. I like to use kosher salt as an abrasive to turn the garlic into a paste. Said paste seems to dissolve in the dressing without any harsh bits of raw garlic awaiting an unsuspecting eater.

First, I mince the garlic using a chef’s knife, then I sprinkle it with the salt. I chop at the mixture a little more to work the salt into the garlic. (You could use a mortar and pestle to do this. To me, it’s just another thing to wash, and I’m getting pretty good at this knife method.)

I then mash the garlic and salt together with the flat of a chef’s knife, pressing and scraping until I have a paste.

I was going to have this salad with grilled food, but it began to rain just as I was about to start dinner. The George Foreman counter-top grill (or the Geo Fo, as I call it) saved our dinner, just as this Chickpea and Olive Salad with Greek Flavors soothed my impatience (I have mentioned that I’m impatient, haven’t I?) as I would wait until Tuesday for my box of veggies from the CSA.

Chickpea and Olive Salad with Greek Flavors
Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light magazine

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/3 cup diced red onion
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped pickled pepperoncini peppers (the yellow slightly spicy kind)
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon minced rosemary leaves

1. In a medium bowl, combine vinegar and lemon juice. Mince the garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with the salt. Chop the salt into the garlic, then rub the mixture with the flat of the knife repeatedly, pressing against the cutting board until a paste is formed (see photos above).

2. Add the garlic to the vinegar and lemon juice. Allow this mixture to stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Add the black pepper and olive oil to the vinegar and garlic mixture. Whisk until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to coat.

Makes 4 servings.


  1. Happy Tuesday! What's in the box?!

  2. Lots of green stuff! I'll post on that soon!

  3. Is that a made in Iowa Rada knive I see?

  4. Actually, it's Chicago Cutlery. :)

  5. Let us not ignore how much fun it is to mush stuff up with a mortar and pestle. Totally at the upper end of the fun scale, with the lower end being measured by "you can help by setting the table."