In December we had an epic frost that killed all the summer plants in the garden: tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash all wilted and died on the same night. Now the beds are brown and barren, and there’s nothing much I can do until a new round of seeds can sprout. Until then, I rely on a small patch of arugula for last-minute salad fixings. The arugula is sharp and peppery, having been planted too many months ago. I finally found the perfect salad for it, an addictive blend of garlic and lemon flavors, so here is a recipe to enjoy in the middle of winter. It is a salad that depends upon only peppery greens and a lemon for freshness, both of which are plentiful in California this time of year. Better yet, mix it up with different greens (lots of finely chopped parsley is fantastic) or another type of bean that will hold its shape. Feta is a fine addition.
Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Arugula
1-2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon butter
1-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 cups arugula, washed and cut into salad-appropriate pieces
The juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (a tart spice)
Salt and pepper to taste
An extra drizzle of olive oil if desired
Optional: feta cheese
1. Cook the chickpeas in butter in a frying pan or cast iron skillet until the skins are golden brown in places. Add the garlic to the pan and cook with the chickpeas until done. Pour the chickpeas and garlic into a salad bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir, and set aside.
2. Prepare the rest of the ingredients while the chickpeas cool and then put them in the bowl with the chickpeas and garlic. Taste for salt (use less if including feta cheese since it’s so salty) and lemon juice. If you don’t have sumac, just omit it, or add more lemon juice. Eat the salad as soon as you’ve added the lemon juice so the greens don’t have time to wilt.