I love family hang outs. Growing up with a large extended family that would gather on every occasion we could, my cousins, aunts and uncles have become some of my my closest friends. I had a light day at work, so I invited some over for dinner and then got cooking. One friend was vegetarian and I wanted to create a meal that was entirely meat free but would still satisfy her meat eating husband and kids.
I made a trip to the Italian Center and luckily spotted some really fun and interesting ingredients; fresh green chickpeas still in their pods, wild arugula, burrata cheese, some greenhouse tomatoes (I know it’s not the season! Sometimes a girl just wants a tomato), eggplants, parm, mozzarella, you know, Italian stuff. I brought it home and then tried to figure a meal out of it all. I landed on cheese stuffed arancini which are deep fried risotto balls (a hit with the kids and adults alike), an eggplant parmisiana, roasted zucchini boats and, what was shockingly the crowd favorite, a green chickpea, tomato, and burrata salad. The kids went nuts for the chickpeas and tomatoes! Who would have thought?!
If you’ve never tried a fresh chickpea, I recommend making it a mission. They have a starchy, fresh, almost green pea quality to them and, added bonus, they are really healthy and good for you. They take some work as you have to shell them, but it’s an easy task and one you can do in front of the tv or listening to a good podcast. They are exactly the same as the brown canned or dried chickpeas you often see, just picked at the peak of freshness and not processed in any way.
about 1 lb fresh chickpeas in the shell
1 ball of buratta cheese
6 ripe tomatoes
handful of wild arugula
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
It’s really an easy salad to put together and a different take on the norm. Great for a picnic or family function.
First, shell your chickpeas into a bowl and slice your tomatoes into bit sized wedges. Toss the two together with the red wine vinegar, first bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Let this sit room temperature and marinade together for an hour or so. Whatever you do, PLEASE don’t refrigerate your tomatoes. It completely changes the texture and taste. If you don’t believe me, do an experiment at home. Buy some good tomatoes, put one in the fridge and keep the rest out on the counter. Try them side by side the next day. You’ll know what I’m talking about!
Right before serving, put your arugula into a bowl and gently toss with the balsamic and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange your tomatoes and chickpeas on the base of your serving dish, pop the buratta right in the center, and spread some arugula round. Drizzle the balsamic mix at the bottom of the bowl over the cheese and, voila. A quick, easy and impressive salad.