Here is a super-easy and refreshing summer salad with chickpeas, cucumber, and mint, as well as crisp hearts of palm, complimented by a smoky tahini dressing. Don’t hearts of palm automatically make everything more elegant? Also, I happen to agree with Mark Bittman of the New York Times that smoked paprika improves almost every savory dish. It really brings out the natural smokiness of the tahini (which is kind of like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts). If you don’t have any smoked paprika, though, just leave it out. But seriously, go buy some for next time, try it in a variety of savory dishes while you’re at it, and thank me later. A few years ago you had to special order it, but now it’s fairly readily available in supermarkets.
I’ve adapted this recipe from the super-prolific vegetarian blog, Oh My Veggies, which is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to cook a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes (this dish is naturally vegan). Several bloggers contribute to the Oh My Veggies website, and it’s worth following them individually if you really like their work. They also publish weekly meal plans complete with shopping list – very helpful if you’re just blanking out on ideas for your weekly shopping.
The original recipe doesn’t call for hearts of palm or smoked paprika – those are my additions. The hearts of palm happened because I ran out of chickpeas. Yup. Necessity, plus a random can of hearts of palm in the pantry, is truly the mother of invention. Now I keep a can of chickpeas and a can of hearts of palm in the fridge so they’re already chilled and when I assemble the salad, no additional chilling is needed to make it ready to serve.
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed (if you think of it, store the canned items in the fridge so they're pre-chilled)
- 1 15-oz can hearts of palm, rinsed and sliced (or you can use a 2nd can of chickpeas)
- 1 cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced
- ¼-1/2 c. roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- ¼ c. tahini
- Juice from 1 large lemon
- ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- Large pinch of flaky sea salt, or any salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To make the dressing: Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and olive oil plus a large pinch of flaky sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Taste the dressing and add more salt if needed.
- To make the salad: In a medium salad, bowl, combine the chickpeas, hearts of palm, and mint. Drizzle the dressing over and toss to combine. Chill for an hour or two if you didn't pre-chilled your canned ingredients. Enjoy!