At Lani’s farm stand this week I spotted some fresh chickpeas being put out. I’d never tried them before, but as chickpeas seem to be one of my favourite ingredients this week, I couldn’t resist. Along with the first crop of corn I decided to make this lovely little salad rich with flavours from south of the border
Fresh chickpeas are rather cute little legumes. They come one or two to a pod and split with a satisfying pop. Shelling them can be a little time consuming, but cooking is fast; just a few minutes in boiling salted water and you’re done. If the shelling seems too much of a bore, you could just griddle them whole like edamame and make your guests do the work. But for this dish, I wanted the fresh chickpeas to sit next to the first crop of sweetcorn, so shell I did.
The corn, from Sycamore Farms was as fresh and sweet as corn should be. When corn is picked the sugars in it turn to starch pretty quickly, so the fresher it is, the sweeter it is. This is a great advantage of getting your produce from farmers markets and farm stands: by cutting out on a lengthy chain from farmer to consumer you end up with fresher, sweeter produce. Anyway, I’ll stand down from my soap box and get on with the recipe.
With the fresh chickpeas and corn as the main fresh ingredients of my salad, I wanted some sort of grain or cereal to go with it. I’ve already used Bulghur wheat this week, so I decided to avoid similar things like couscous or quinoa. A quick check of the storecupboard and I decided on this red Himalayan rice from Kalustyan’s. Rice seemed a great match for the corn, and using a rice with a darker bran would offer a nice contrast. Some fresh heirloom tomatoes gave it a nice sharpness. I decided to go the full way with Mexican flavours, and make a vinaigrette using lime juice and a chipotle chilli. A generous scattering of cilantro sealed the deal. This is the sort of thing that would work really well as a picnic dish: nothing’s too fragile, and over time the rice will absorb more of the dressing making it even more flavourful.
- 1 pint Fresh Chickpeas (substitute Edamame), shelled
- 2 Ears of Corn, kernels sliced off
- 1/3 cup Red Rice (or some other variety, but preferably with some bite to it)
- 4 or 5 small or medium Tomatoes, diced
- A small handful of Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Juice of a Lime
- About 1.5 times as much Olive Oil
- Half a dry Chipotle Chilli, crushed
- Bring a 1/2 cup of water (or 1.5 x the volume of rice you're making) to the boil, and add the rice with a pinch of salt. Turn right down to the lowest possible flame, cover and cook for 20 minutes (or about 2/3 of the regular cooking time on the packet). Taste to check it's cooked through but still has a little bite to it. Drain and spread the grains out on a baking sheet or piece of kitchen foil to cool. You can do this ahead of time but if you forget it will have cooled sufficiently by the time you get the other ingredients together.
- Cook the chickpeas in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes and drain. Put them into a large salad bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of Olive Oil over a medium-high heat in a broad skillet and add the corn. Letting it cook is a mostly passive affair: you might want to push it around a bit to see how it's browning but generally just let it cook away for a few minutes until dark brown and black in places. Add to the chickpeas, along with the tomatoes, cilantro and the now-cooled rice.
- To make the dressing, put the crushed Chipotle, Lime Juice, Olive Oil and a generous pinch of Salt and Pepper in a jar with a lid and shake well. Pour over the salad and mix well.
- If you can bear to let the salad sit for fifteen or twenty minutes before eating, the rice will absorb some of the vinaigrette, but if not I don't blame you.
Pairing with Fresh Chickpeas and Charred Corn
Actually what we are really pairing with here is sharp lime and smoky chipotle chilli. To that end, my number one choice would be to go for a light American Style Lager. If you know me well, you won’t be surprised to hear my favourite of this genre is Red Stripe, although I’ve also been liking Narragansett Lager recently.
If you insist on wine, I’d probably go for a nice inexpensive Malbec: it’s by turns fruity and peppery and will go well with this dish in the same way it goes well with barbecue and grilled meats.
Fresh Chickpeas: Lani’s Farm
Corn: Sycamore Farms
Himalayan Red Rice: Kalustyan’s
Heirloom Tomatoes: S & S.O. Produce Farms
Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry Lane Farms
Chipotle Chilli: Eckerton Hill Farm
Cilantro, Limes: Mr Coco