In theory, it is actually autumn now in Australia, but we all know that March generally has a few searingly hot days up her sleeve – especially here in South Australia. It’s at this time of year that most of us are beginning to look forward to the cooler mornings and evenings. I know many are about to start turning their cookbooks to the comfort foods section, but I’m not quite done with salads yet.
I love the cooler weather, but the winters can drag on a little long here in the hills so I’m happy to embrace the fresh foods of the warmer months for as long as I can. There’s still loads of fresh, locally grown salad items in the stores and enough warm sunny days to justify any excuse for a picnic, barbecue or beach lunch.
This recipe uses chickpeas, which are a bit of a favourite of mine. Ever since I discovered that I could cook them in the slow cooker and freeze them, I’ve been a little more in love with them. The fact that they are tasty, incredibly versatile, outrageously good for you, significantly economical and Australian-grown is just (metaphorical) icing on this dandy little legume, as far as I’m concerned.
I made this recipe for a family barbecue and a large bowl of it disappeared within minutes, so I guess I’m not the only one who likes it. The combination of mint and lemon is a very happy one, and the addition of a creamy feta and a good glug of local olive oil generally improves most things. If you don’t have any home-cooked chickpeas in the freezer, there is absolutely no shame in using the canned ones. Add a cucumber and you are good to go!
If you can’t get hold of any of the creamy style of feta, this is a perfect excuse to go Bulgarian and grate the harder feta over the salad. Once you’ve added the lemon juice and oil, you will still have a delicious, creamy finish to the dish.
Lemon Chickpea, Feta & Cucumber Salad
I used the creamy style of feta, but if you can’t get that, try grating a harder feta over the salad before adding the oil – it will still be delicious and creamy. This recipe makes a large bowl of salad, perfect for sharing.
4 cups cooked (or canned) chickpeas (garbanzos)
1 large continental cucumber
3 spring onions
220 gms feta (cubed & crumbled if the creamy variety, grated if the harder variety)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
50 mls extra virgin olive oil
1: Finely chop the spring onions, cut the cucumbers into quarters lengthways, remove seeds and finely slice or dice.
2: Combine in a large dish with the chickpeas.
3: Add the feta, mint and lemon zest and toss together.
4: Add the lemon juice, olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and combine well.
5: Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.
South Australia-based Amanda McInerney is author of Lambs’ Ears & Honey blog, where you will find more mouth-watering recipes and stories about SA food producers.
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