‘Desperate for Summer’ Chickpea Niçoise Salad

January usually seems to drag. By the time February appears I’m relieved and it feels like summer is just around the corner. This year has been a little different though. January went by shockingly fast and I bought some £1 daffodils to celebrate the coming of spring.

However as I look out the window on what I swear is the rainiest day of the year so far it feels like summer is a miserably long way away. I always forget. February is the bastard I want to see dead. I sit inside longing for warm evenings, refreshing cold beer and the will to leave the house for anything other than my job.

While I concede that I was perhaps a little premature with the daffodils the desire for fresh, light and lemony flavours has not diminished. So here is a little salad recipe for those of you out there who may also be a little low on vitamin D. While a quick google search shows there is basically no vitamin D in chickpeas perhaps the high vitamin C in the lemons will help stave off the colds and flu which I have somehow managed to avoid this year.

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I hardly ever get this lucky with an avocado 😉

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Ingredients

For the chickpea “tuna”

400g tin chickpeas
1/4 red onion
1/2 stick of celery
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp hot paprika

For the dressing

3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Agave nectar (optional)

For the salad

1 bag of lettuce or a small lettuce head washed and torn
About 6 fine green beans
1/2 a ripe avocado
A handful of small tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
8 black olives halved

Method

Drain and wash the chickpeas and place in a bowl. With a potato masher or a fork roughly crush the chickpeas until the desired consistency is reached. I prefer them a little bit chunky. Peel and dice the red onion into approximately 5mm pieces. Top and tail the celery and chop to the same size as the onion. Add the vegetables to the chickpeas and mix. Add the lemon juice and the paprika and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and mix until all are well combined. If you like your dressings a little sweeter this is where you would add the agave. But be careful not to lose the fresh lemon flavour of the salad. Start with 1 tsp and see how that tastes before adding more if needed.

In a nice wide bowl arrange the salad leaves leaving a bit of a well in the centre. Place your chickpea mixture in there.

Trim the stems off the green beans and chop into thirds before boiling for approx 4 minutes until tender but they still have some bite left. Drain the beans and then run cold water over them to stop the cooking process and keep them vibrant green. Peel the skin off the avocado and slice thinly lengthways and then in half widthways. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways.

Scatter or arrange if you’re feeling fancy the avocado, beans, tomatoes, capers and olives over the lettuce leaves and chickpeas. Finally drizzle the salad dressing over the Niçoise and eat immediately to the sound of the cold February rainfall outside.

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