5/12/08

Chickpea and feta salad (Thanks, Gordo)

Chickpea and feta salad (thanks, Gordo)

I've finally jumped on the Gordon Ramsay bandwagon. I'd heard about Hell's Kitchen, but hadn't dared let myself get sucked in. Until this season. Yes, the show is horrible. Yes, Ramsay is a caricature of himself. Yes, the contestants are, for the most part, hopeless saps who care more about fame and rubbing elbows with a star than about food or cooking. But one thing is clear, even through the haze of purple scripting, pointed editing and over production: Gordon Ramsay cares deeply for food, and the guy can cook. So why not seek him out in other venues?

I enjoy Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and The F Word on BBC America. Ramsay does his bit of yelling on each, but nowhere near the amount either coaxed by producers or discovered by editors at the Fox Network. The F Word, especially, is a good show that's filled with simple, excellent recipes and a crew of people who clearly enjoy cooking (full disclaimer: I've only seen one full episode of The F Word, but in my defense, it was the two-hour season finale).

This recipe is inspired by none of those sources. It comes from Ramsay's video series produced by The Times Online and available for download via iTunes. In his latest installments, Ramsay is offering up delicious, low-fat recipes to help people eat and live better. His original recipe calls for chickpeas, red onion, chile, lemon juice and zest, paprika, and fresh parsley. I couldn't find the red chile he'd used, but I wanted the color and slight fruity flavor peppers impart to a dish. I also needed the heat, so I substituted an orange bell pepper and a green bell pepper (the red bells looked well past their prime) and some red pepper flakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • Half an orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Half a green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (added to taste)
  • Fresh parsley (Though it pains me to say so, you can use dried parsley flakes for this dish. Go on. No one's watching.)
  • A good chunk of Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 lime

Other ingredients:
Pita bread

To begin, tear or cut the pita bread in half, and separate the pockets, top from bottom. Each piece of pita bread will yield four pieces of the eventual hard toast. Line the pita pieces on a baking dish, brush them with olive oil, and bake at 400 for about five minutes. You want them to be toasted and slightly crispy. Bring them out of the oven and set aside.

For the main dish:

  • Cook the onions over medium-high heat for about a minute
  • Add the peppers, sprinkle with salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Let the onions and peppers cook together for about four minutes
  • Add the chickpeas and garlic and stir all the ingredients together
  • Squeeze the lime over the pan, stir, and then add the pepper flakes and the parsley
  • Then dump in about half the feta
  • Stir to combine and until the feta just starts to melt
  • Transfer the dish to a large bowl, add the remaining feta and some parsley and serve with the pita chips

This dish is so fast, it comes together in a manner of minutes. It's also incredibly healthy, intensely flavorful, and was a huge hit at my dinner table. Enjoy!

3 comments:

Kevin said...

With onions, peppers, chickpeas and feta, this sounds really good.

Angela said...

Nice review on Ramsay. Generally, when the entertainment factor is high with celebrity chefs, I avoid the food. Your posting motivates me to go back and take another look. That's one great-looking salad!

LisaRene said...

I caught Hell's Kitchen once and watched for about 10 minutes. Just can't take the yelling and negative attention, makes me think of all those horrible day time talk shows :)

Wonderful recipe! It is ideal for a quick healthy meal after a hard days work. I give you credit for using dried parsley, we simply can't have every fresh ingredient on hand at all times.