A holiday food antidote.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year I get to hankering for something to eat that’s not turkey, ham, or filled with cream cheese and/or sugar.  I love me some holiday food, but by December 27, I’m craving salad and fish.

So when I won a new cookbook in a Dirty Santa exchange on Christmas evening, I immediately turned to the salad section and found this gem of a side dish — Stewed Chickpea Salad with Feta, Olives and Mint.

I love any dish with chickpeas and feta, so this recipe was right up my alley. Better yet, once you boil the chickpeas, it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Talk about a quick dinner!

My family enjoyed this dish with grilled, sliced chicken breast (which was leftover from a previous meal) and toasted Ciabatta bread.

This dish is hearty with complex Mediterranean flavors. (The mint, feta and cumin work especially well together.)  It will work as a meatless meal, or as a wonderful side dish for simply prepared fish or chicken.

Try it today as an antidote to your holiday excess. You’ll be ready for summer soon!

Stewed Chickpea Salad with Feta, Olives and Mint

(from New Classic Family Dinners by Mark Peel)

1/2 pound dried chickpeas, soaked for 6 hours or overnight

1 quart water

3 fat garlic cloves, 2 crushed and 1 minced

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1 TBLS diced mint leaves

1 ounce feta, crumbled

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 TBLS plus 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Drain the chickpeas after soaking and place in a large saucepan with the water, 2 crushed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook gently for 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool slightly in the cooking liquid. (This step can be done in advance. If so, drain the chickpeas, discarding the garlic, thyme and bay leaf, and store in an airtight container in the frig until needed.)

While cooling, make the vinaigrette by combining the final five ingredients, plus one clove of garlic (diced) and whisking to combine.

Drain the cooked chickpeas discarding the garlic, thyme sprigs and bay leaf.  Transfer to a salad bowl. Allow to cool slightly, and while still warm, toss with the olives, tomatoes, scallions, mint, and vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a little salt and/or pepper if required. Sprinkle with feta and serve warm.

Serves 4. Will keep well for several days in an airtight container in the frig.