I have news for you:
I am going to give birth to a chickpea.
I’m not actually kidding. I’m pregnant, due in May, and I have blood tests that prove that the person growing inside me will come out with a can opener in his or her tiny little hand, because instead of breast milk, this baby will only be eating chickpea salad. At least, that’s the trend thus far.
I know. I should have told you earlier.
But it was so boring early on, in the food department: Toast. Saltine crackers. Cereal. More toast. More crackers. More cereal. Rice pudding. Saltines in bed. Saltines on the sheets, and in my husband’s hair. Dog jumping on the bed, snorting saltine dust. Toast.
Around here, you’ve seen an awful lot of desserts recently, if you hadn’t noticed. That’s because meat and I have not been friends. In fact, food and I have not been great friends, and for me, that’s sad. I thought I’d never meet a Bolognese I didn’t like, but I did, twice, and I can’t talk about it yet.
But all that nonsense seems to be over, finally. (Whoever said nausea ends at 12 weeks is full of shit. Try 15.)
But back to beans.
If they’re at all gussied up, I can down a can of chickpeas – garbanzo beans, whatever you want to call them – in a single sitting. Like now, at 10:17 a.m, when I’ve already had a piece of toast, an egg, and a smoothie for breakfast. In fact, I’m beginning to consider myself something of a chickpea salad expert.
Let me enlighten you.
The average chickpea salad takes four to six minutes to make. This takes into consideration my simplest version (and the one I make most often), which takes just under one minute, if I can find the can opener quickly – it’s just chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper – and the luxe version, which requires boiling water for some sort of grain, chopping herbs, and getting out a proper bowl and perhaps, in a moment of leisure, a napkin.
But yes, on average, I’d say four to six minutes. The version that was in the bowl in front of me just moments ago was a good proxy of my typical mid-morning snack. I mixed a can of rinsed, drained chickpeas with chopped cucumber, cilantro, and olives, plus the juice of half a Meyer lemon and some olive oil, salt and pepper. I crumbled in a handful of goat cheese, and stirstirstirred until it melted into a dressing, which meant chickpea salad bound by a silky white sauce that really probably wasn’t meant to fall into the little indentation between the space key and the raised framing on my Mac laptop. (No, silly, that’s for your thumb.)
The most exotic salad, thus far, was very misleading. I went to a party recently where we were all instructed to bring a favorite dish from childhood. Tea brought tuna noodle casserole (with peas, of course). Shauna made tomato soup, updated with chipotle peppers and red lentils. Traca brought homemade salted peanut butter caramel ice cream, and a chocolate version made with coconut milk, which must have been meant as a stand-in for ice cream in general, unless I missed that her mother is related to Martha Stewart. Barbara brought Oreos and milk, and Megan (I think!) brought rice krispy treats. (Just try spelling that with a “c.”)
But me? I brought the chickpea salad I made a couple weeks ago, which was based on the salad at How to Cook a Wolf. Not because I loved chickpeas as a child. (In fact, I refused to try them, because my friend Sari loved them, and how could I possibly have liked something she liked?)
No. I brought the salad because I couldn’t imagine getting through the afternoon without chickpeas.
And what did I find, there on the buffet table? Another chickpea salad. Apparently Brandon really did have a chickpea childhood. His salad seemed plain enough – to the naked eye, why, it was just a bunch of legumes, looking shiny in a bowl. But they were dressed with some combination so close to Caesar salad – with great olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and plenty of garlic – that I stubbornly refused to ask him what he’d put in the mix, lest he dared mention a raw egg out loud, and Hey, aren’t you pregnant? Should you be eating that? squeaked out from someone across the room. I made that one again, too, but (sigh) without the egg he may or may not have used. (I am such a wuss.)
And yes, about about that chickpea salad from Wolf? Oh, people, it gets better. Mix that one with 3/4 cup cooked orzo pasta, juice of another half a lemon, another glug of olive oil, and 1/2 cup crumbled feta, and you’ve got an eat-over-the-sink-til-it’s-gone-able pasta salad.
Then there are the warm versions, which may take slightly longer: A red quinoa and chickpea salad, with feta, sundried tomatoes, olives, and corn. That one was for a party, too, but by the time my spoon found it, it was only mostly for a party.
Then there was a warm one where I sautéed onions, red bell pepper, and broccoli, and added the chickpeas with a touch of cumin and apple cider vinegar. That one was delicious, but not as shovelable as the others. I actually had leftovers, that time.
So yes, thank you for asking, I am especially thankful for something this year. I’m thankful for this little chickpea, even if it does make me cry at Walmart commercials. (Yup, you’re right. I don’t own a television. It happened at my gym, right there on the elliptical machine.)
I’m thankful for you, too, dear reader. It’s nice to have you along.
I can’t promise that hogwash won’t change in the months to come. I’ve always written about life, and if there’s one certain way to make life change, we’ve smack dabbed ourselves into the middle of it.
I will promise, though, that I will eventually move beyond chickpeas.
At least, I do hope so.
TIME: 20 minutes
MAKES: 8 to 12 servings
1 1/3 cups red quinoa (white works just as well)
1 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil)
3/4 cup corn kernels (from a large cob, or cooked frozen corn)
1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese (from a 7-ounce brick)
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook the quinoa in water according to package instructions. (You should have about 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa.) Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the remaining ingredients, through parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.