Don't be misled by the word salad, this is a collection of chickpeas, herbs and vegetables but it's the type of hearty salad that will leave you sated and comforted. The textural contrast between the tender squash and chickpeas with the fried onions and crispy chickpeas really makes this dish something special!
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 45minutes
Serves 2-3 people
INGREDIENTS 1 butternut squash 200g dried chickpeas 1 medium or 2 small onions 2 sprigs of mint Lemon juice and zest to taste 1 tbsp tahini ½ tsp harissa 1 tsp cumin see Olive oil, neutral oil and salt as needed
EQUIPMENT Chopping board and knife Medium sized pot Small pot Baking tray lined with baking paper Strainer or sieve Plenty of kitchen towel
1.The day before you plan on making this recipe, take the chickpeas and place into a container and cover well with water. The water level should be minimum 2 inches above the chickpeas as the chickpeas will absorb some of the water and expand overnight. Allow these to soak overnight.
2. The next day pour the contents of the container into a large pot and place over high heat. Season liberally with salt.
At this stage you can add other flavouring agents to the water, great options would be aa couple of bay leaves, a small bundle of thyme, a halved onion or a halved carrot. This add an extra depth of flavour to the chickpeas.
When a foam appears on the surface of the water, scoop it off using a spoon or ladle and discard. Maintain at a boil for 45 minutes to an hour or until the chickpeas are tender and cooked to your liking. Drain in a sieve or colander and allow to cool and dry at room temperature.
3. While the chickpeas are cooking, preheat an oven to 200C with a baking sheet inside the oven. Peel the butternut squash by chopping off the stalk end and the base end and running a knife along the edges to remove the peel. Chop the butternut squash into roughly one-inch cubes and season well with olive oil and salt. Remove the baking tray from the oven and line quickly with baking paper. Place the seasoned butternut squash onto the tray and place into the oven for 20 minutes or until just tender and nicely coloured.
4. For the onion, peel and slice into thin, even slices. You can either saute the onions until they are nicely coloured in a little bit of butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt, or for wonderfully crispy onions, fill a small pot or pan with 2cm of olive or vegetable oil and place your sliced onions inside. Add a little bit more oil to submerge the onions. Turn the heat up to high and cook the onions while stirring them gently with a spoon. Once you see a nice even browning begin to appear across the onions, strain them through a sieve into a mixing bowl. Reserve the cooking oil as this is now a fantastic caramelised onion flavoured oil that is incredible for seasoning things or using in vinaigrettes. Immediately blot the onions using plenty of paper towel and season lightly with salt while they are still hot.
Important! Whenever deep frying anything, ensure you are using a deep enough pot and that the level of the oil does not reach up past half the height of the pot and there are no exposed flames that could reach past the base of the pot.
5. Optionally add 1cm of the oil back to the pan and add a handful of cooked and dried chickpeas. Turn the heat up again and stir them gently for a minute or two as they start to fry. Remove a chickpea from the oil and taste it for crispiness. If it is crispy strain the oil from the pot into a mixing bowl and transfer the chickpeas to paper towel. Season immediately with salt and optionally some smoked paprika or sumac.
6. In the bottom of a mixing bowl add the tahini, harissa and cumin seeds, loosen up with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (or your amazing caramelised onion oil!) and the juice from a quarter of a lemon. Mix to combine with a pinch of salt. To this bowl you can add the chickpeas, the roasted butternut squash and half of the crispy onions.
7. Stir to combine and add a few torn leaves of mint. Serve topped with more of the crispy onions, fried chickpeas and mint leaves.