Living upside down doesn't always sit easily with me. When it comes to the subject of Christmas, I feel my fate is to be forever a whingeing Pom. Christmas deserves frost, snow, hot chocolate and dark nights. However, a short, lazy week after Christmas, I am just delighted to celebrate New Year in summer. New Year was made for the summer. Outside parties, the can't-get-a-taxi walk home, having to stay up till midnight (did I mention I'm apparently an old lady?) - all of these things are made infinitely better by happening when it's warm and sunny outside.
Also into this category falls the inevitable January 'Healthy Eating Plan' (I smell a euphemism). Having an overhaul of lazy eating habits, of vowing to not just lie on the sofa and eat pasta every night that Andy is at work - so, so much better in the sunshine. Cold food with bright flavours, fresh salad vegetables at their best, ripe and full of late-season sweetness, makes it much easier to kick-start the year into being better than its predecessor.
I wrote last year about a new-found love of Ottolenghi, and this is based on another recipe of his. At the market stall I now run, I have recently started selling salads, and have been pleasantly surprised with how well they sell - turns out I'm not the only one craving food that makes you feel virtuous as well as happy to eat it. My salads tend to be pulse and grain based - I definitely find these more filling and interesting, texture-wise, than leaf-based salads.
Typically of Ottolenghi, it looks like a fairly standard list of ingredients until you get to the spices, then BAM. I didn't follow all the steps in his, as I wanted to serve this cold and wanted to make it quickly. It still tasted fresh and filling and wonderful.
Chickpea Salad with Summer Vegetables
Based on Ottolenghi
2 cans chickpeas (I usually use dried but forgot to soak them and time ran away)
1 large tomato
1 small red onion
1 red pepper, deseeded
1 handful coriander leaves and stems, chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
30ml olive oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
0.5 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
0.5 teaspoon ground cardamom
0.75 teaspoon ground allspice
0.5 teaspoon ground cumin
Dice the cucumber, tomato, onion, radish and pepper into pieces roughly the size of chickpeas. Mix with the coriander and parsley. Mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, sugar, cardamom, allspice, and cumin. Season to taste.