Pan-fried chickpeas are tossed in a curried yogurt dressing with arugula for a healthy, filling salad. Top it with a little minced red onion for some crunch.
What a heart-full weekend this was. Last Friday I flew down to LA to stay with friends while I attended an amazing food styling and photography workshop put on by the White on Rice Couple. If you're interested in food photography, I highly recommend their workshops!
It was a day full of useful information on food photography from two top pros. I am, at best, a novice photographer. But after taking a few hundred photos of food over the last couple years, I want to know why a photo worked, and why it didn't. I want to be able to execute a photo that even comes close to matching the picture I have in my head.
Oh, and do it efficiently while my husband waits for the photo shoot to be over, so we can finally. eat. dinner. That might be an optimistic goal, but I'm giving it a good, honest shot (no pun intended).
So I'm starting by focusing on the 3 biggest "ah-ha" moments that I took away with me that I thought I'd share with all of you:
- Have a clear understanding of the story you want to tell with your dish, and set up your shot around that.
- Know what your 'hero' is in the shot and focus on it. For example, one apple in a basket of fruit, or a small, perfectly curled arugula leaf in a salad.
- Enhance your exposure control with white foam boards to reflecting a clean light onto the subject, and use black foam boards to minimize glare. Don't count on fixing a badly exposed photo in Photo Shop.
So what does any of this have to do with Pan-fried Chickpea Salad? Well it wasn't just a day filled with information and friendship; it was a food extravaganza too. You wouldn't know it by all the eating I did, especially of the desserts, but, Hel-lo, I'm on a diet! Thank God I was wearing stretchy yoga pants, is all I can say.
For the next few days, I've now got salads on the brain, and this Pan-fried Chickpea Salad is one of my favorites that I go to time and again, no matter the season.
I first saw it on 101 Cookbooks about a year ago, and although I loved it just the way it was, I kept modifying if for what I was in the mood for, or for what was in my refrigerator that day. It's easy, healthy, and offers lots of opportunities to add twists of your own.
A Few Cooking Notes:
I strongly recommend chickpeas cooked from dried form as they have a much better flavor and texture. But if you're in a rush, use canned. No worries.
Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. I'll add some nutritional information on these members of the legumes family later this week too!
Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili sauce common in North African dishes, and you can find it in the condiments section of most grocery stores, or you can make your own harissa. I'll be posting my favorite recipe for this next week. It's so easy to make and lasts a long time in the refrigerator.
Don't like dishes too spicy? Just eliminate the harissa, although don't forget it's pretty well tempered with the yogurt dressing.
This salad is finished with a little minced red onion over the top, but if you prefer to eliminate, substitute either Gremolata breadcrumbs for a little crunch.
Pan-Fried Chickpea Salad with Curried-Yogurt Dressing
- ¼ cup yogurt
- ¾ teaspoon curry powder
- ¾ teaspoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Pinch each of salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon warm water as needed
- In a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, heat up the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until the onion starts to go limp. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Make sure the cooked chickpeas are dry, and add to the skillet along with the salt and pepper. If the chickpeas are wet, you will get some splatter when they hit the hot oil.
- Sauté until the chickpeas begin to lightly brown and the onions are soft, stirring frequently – about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the kalamata olives, harissa, lemon juice and lemon zest, cook for another minute to warm them, and remove from the heat.
- Immediately transfer the mixture to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature, or just a little warmer.
- While the chickpea mixture is cooling, make the Curried Yogurt Dressing. Whisk together the yogurt, curry powder, lime juice, and vinegar in a small bowl. Once the dressing is mixed together, stir in the cilantro. Add enough warm water to the dressing to make it the consistency you want and stir - for me, it was 1 teaspoon. Correct for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- When the chickpea mixture has cooled, add the arugula or watercress leaves and fold in half of the Curried Yogurt Dressing until the chickpeas are completely coated. Add additional dressing as desired.
- This salad can be served at room temperature but I prefer to serve it just slightly warm.