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Chickpea, Tomato & Feta Salad

Now that we work from home, I love lunch time. My lunches at the store used to consist of leftovers or veggie burgers, even though I still eat and love both of those, a lot of days I can have more fun creating healthy lunches. Especially with my vegetable garden in full-force, I can just hop into the back yard, grab some lettuce and/or cucumbers, fresh herbs, etc and toss together a quick salad.

I saw a delicious recipe, a while back, for a Chickpea, Spinach & Feta Salad, on my friend Margaux’s blog that she keeps with her aunt, Sweet & Savory Kitchens. I couldn’t wait to play around with my own version. Such a simple, quick and healthy salad, why haven’t I been making this every single week?

I decided to use what I had on hand, so I cut up some red onion, a whole tomato, a roasted red pepper, some fresh oregano, etc and it was that easy. An incredible lunch salad in minutes. I served mine over some romaine lettuce, you could also add chopped up lettuce, spinach or other leafy vegetables like kale or arugula directly to the salad when mixing. Cucumbers would also be delicious. In Margaux and Aunt Suzy’s original recipe they included cooked broccoli which sounds like a tasty, crunchy addition. I think like most salads, the possibilities are endless with this one. This is definitely going to be a staple in my house at lunchtime and as a side at dinner. This would make a delicious dish to share at a picnic or party and with all of the beautiful colors, it’ll definitely impress everyone.

Chickpea, Tomato & Feta Salad
adapted from Sweet and Savory Kitchens

The Dressing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Salt and black pepper to taste

The Salad

1 large or two small cans of chickpeas (about 3 cups cooked)
1 large tomato, diced
1 large roasted pepper, diced
1/2 large (or 1 small) red onion, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more to taste

Add all of the dressing ingredients to a small bowl, whisk thoroughly to combine. Set aside.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas if using canned. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a bowl, except the feta cheese. Add the dressing and gently stir to thoroughly blend. Add the cheese and stir again to blend.

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Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs

There is nothing better than a backyard cookout when the weather finally warms up. This spring has been a bit brutal and chilly so now that we have finally been blessed with some warmer temps and lovely sunshine, I see a lot of grilling out in our near future.

We had to work on Memorial day, but we took a break in the late afternoon so I could finally plant some veggies and herbs in my gardens and Mark could mow the lawn. It was insanely hot on Monday so after working hard outside we decided it would be the perfect day for this summer’s inaugural grilling session. We desperately need to get to the grocery store and farmers market after all of this traveling so I decided to make do with what we had on hand. We pulled out two delicious smoked pork chops, from Sojourner Farm, out of our freezer and I realized I could whip together a quick potato salad. I had a beautiful bunch of arugula that I grabbed from the Farmers Market in Brooklyn last weekend so decided to improvise and create this salad. I make so many variations of this grilled potato salad throughout the summer since it is so easy to toss together and it’s so full of wonderful flavors. You can play around with different herbs, substitute baby spinach or other lettuces for the arugula and even play with different vinaigrettes, like mustard based, etc.

This salad has so many great fresh, summer flavors from the herbs and arugula and the potatoes get a beautiful brown crispiness. I promise after the first time you make a grilled potato salad, you will see all the possibilities and be hooked on it throughout the summer, as we are. Additionally, it is a  naturally gluten-free and vegan side dish.

Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs

Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs
serves 4

4-5 medium organic russet potatoes (approx 1 – 1.5 lbs), skin left on, cleaned and sliced 1/4″ thick on the short side
1 bunch of fresh arugula, roughly chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large bunch of fresh chives, chopped thinly
1 bunch of fresh oregano, roughly chopped (any other fresh herb you prefer can be used here)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using a mandoline slicer, evenly slice the potatoes into 1/4″ slices. If you do not have a mandoline slicer, you can cut them by hand, just be sure they are all similar thickness so they cook evenly. Place the potato slices in a medium saucepan and cover with water, add a dash of salt. Bring them to a boil over a high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer potatoes until just fork tender, about 5-8 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking. Once cooled and drained, gently toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (you need just enough to coat all the potatoes, but you don’t want too much or it’ll cause a flare up on the grill), and a dash each of salt and pepper, so they are all evenly coated. You can also add a small amount of the fresh herbs in at this time, if you want to get some extra flavor.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Add the potatoes to a nonstick grill pan, basket or wok (I have one like this, that I love), and place on the grill over the flames. Since the potatoes will not be in a single layer, you will want to toss them gently and often so some don’t burn while others don’t get browned. It will take approximately 20 minutes to cook all of the potatoes thoroughly and for them to be nicely browned. If any get caught in a hot spot and cook too quickly or begin to burn a bit, I just remove them early. If you don’t want to mess with a grill basket or pan, you can cut the potatoes the long way and cook them directly on your grill in a single layer, this takes only about 5 minutes per side. (Our grill’s grates are a bit too wide and we lose too many this way, so to avoid frustration we go with the pan).

While the potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl add the rice wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper, mix well to combine.

Once the potatoes are cooked, place them in a large serving bowl, add the arugula and dressing, gently toss to combine everything. The arugula will begin to wilt a bit with the heat from the potatoes but will keep that nice crunch. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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Since we’ve found Sojourner Farms and have bought a bunch of fresh pasture raised whole chickens direct from the farm, we have really been enjoying butterflied grilled chickens. This is such an effortless and delicious summer meal, perfect for those warm summer nights where you just want to relax on the patio with a cocktail and grill out. By butterflying the chicken, it takes less time to cook and you certainly don’t have to worry about it rolling off the grill or falling off of that sticky beer can. We usually get at least two meals from each chicken and once you’ve done the simple work of butterflying you can just sit back and enjoy the evening while it cooks.

I know I have already said this before about everything we have bought from Sojourner, but nothing can describe the taste of the food we are buying from them. Their chickens taste better than any chicken we have ever eaten before. It is unreal. I really cannot recommend enough buying your meats directly from a farm that raises their animals on pasture and without all the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics. You really can taste the extra love and care.

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Start with a whole broiler/fryer chicken weighing approximately 4 pounds. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity, then trim away any excess fat from around the cavity opening. Position the chicken so the breast side is down and the drumsticks are pointing towards you.

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Using a pair of kitchen shears (you can use a sharp knife, but I really recommend the shears), cut all the way down one side of the backbone from the tail to the neck. You’re just cutting through the small rib bones, not through the center of the backbone itself. Cut close to the backbone so you don’t lose too much meat.

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Next, cut all the way down the other side of the backbone, removing it completely.

I have read that some people like to cut down only one side of the backbone, leaving it intact. We remove the backbone completely, since we aren’t going to eat it. Reserve the backbone for making stock, if you’re so inclined.

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Flip the chicken over, breast side up and simply press firmly to full open the carcass, break the breastbone and flatten out the chicken. We prefer to leave the breastbone intact for less fuss and less steps. We could probably get ours even flatter, but it cooked wonderfully so we have no complaints.

Many people prefer to actually cut the breastbone out for better presentation, we don’t mess with the extra steps. If you wish to do that, after you remove the backbone, keep the chicken breast side down, position it with drumsticks pointing away from you (turned 180 degrees from where you started). Use a paring knife make a small cut in the white cartilage that conceals the top of the breastbone. Bend both halves of the carcass backward at the cut to expose the breastbone. It should pop right up through the cut.

Run your thumbs or index fingers down both sides of the breastbone to separate it from the meat, then pull the bone out. If the breastbone breaks into two pieces when you are removing it, it could just mean you haven’t separated it well enough from the meat, just remove both pieces and you are good.

Now you are ready to grill!!

Preheat your grill by turning both sides all the way to high. Pull the hood down and allow the grill to get to a very high heat, this takes about 5-10 minutes, or use your temperature gauge if you have one on your grill.

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Brush both sides of the chicken with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. You can definitely use other seasonings, add lemon or use butter instead of olive oil, we just prefer to keep it simple and not overwhelm it with tons of different flavors. You could also add chips to your grill to get a smoked flavor. Feel free to experiment with different things.

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Once your grill gets to a high heat, turn one side off and leave the other on high. Place the chicken breast side up on the off heat side. Allow it to cook for 45 minutes, leave the hood down, don’t play around with it.

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After 45 minutes, as long as you kept the hood down and the heat of the grill stayed at high, your skin should have already started to brown and crisp up. Turn the direct heat side down to a low flame and move the chicken over to the flame side, breast side down. Close the hood and continue to grill about 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160°F. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve the chicken by removing the wings, legs, thighs and breasts from the bird. If it is a bigger bird, you can cut each breast in half.

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All done. YUM!

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There she is again, Derby was especially loving this photo session.

Dinner. Grilled chicken, pasta salad, grilled veggies
Dinner is served.

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