Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad and the Art of Parties

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

This past week, the New York Times Sunday Magazine ran a lighthearted article that looked into the typical refrigerator contents of a few chefs and it made me consider what's always in mine.  Eggs, butter, yogurt, milk and cheese are the constant and, interestingly, was for them as well.  Although the article didn't glance into their pantries, I would hope it included chickpeas.  The NYT asked the chefs if they could pull together a meal for an unexpected guest and most said yes with those ingredients.  I could, too, and while chickpeas would probably form the base, the cheese would elevate it and that holds true whether I have a surprise dinner guest or invited party guests.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
My staple, always there, cheese is feta.  I love the salty tang it adds to salads, veggies, pasta or just bread.  My local market carries PrĂ©sident® cheeses and their crumbled feta is the one I always throw into my shopping basket.  But, when I'm planning a party, I also include the block style.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Having a cheese platter with a variety of hard cheese choices and crackers is great but I also like to showcase how one flavor can be used in multiple ways.  My favorite use of the block style is to cut it into cubes and marinate it with olive oil and herbs.  Oregano and feta were meant to be together but a few sprigs of thyme thrown in also add a good lemony note.  Keep in mind that fresh oregano is very strong and somewhat bitter.  If you want a milder flavor, use the dried kind.  Let the cheese marinate in a covered jar in the fridge overnight and then bring it to room temperature before the party.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
I make my own pita chips for parties because they're a little sturdier...and really delicious.  Simply buy your favorite pita or flatbread, slice into 8 equal triangles, lay them on a baking sheet with a spritz of olive oil and a touch of sea salt and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Then, dip away!

And speaking of dips, I took at look at the President Cheese website for recipe ideas and found a nice variety of ideas for each of their products.  Not surprisingly, the feta cheese section included a chickpea salad recipe.  I actually took it as inspiration to create my own but I also bookmarked a bunch of ideas to try.  Definitely well worth a look.  My chickpea salad uses Mediterranean flavors and plenty of my favorite crumbled feta.  And, served with my homemade pita chips, it's always a crowd favorite.  Enjoy!

1 Can (approx. 15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup cherry tomatoes roasted in 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 Red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 Cup President Crumbled Plain Feta
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 Teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Slice the tomatoes in half and coat them in the olive oil.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes while you assemble the rest of the salad.

In a large serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, red onion, garlic and parsley.  Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise and oregano and pour it over the chickpea mixture.  Season with salt and pepper and toss in the crumbled feta cheese.

Brought to you by President Cheese. Visit ArtOfCheese.com for a chance to win $50.


  1. For me, it's white beans! Love your post!

  2. Oh my goodness! I love this!!! I adore chickpeas. So good for you!

  3. Do yourself a favor and go see this venue in person it is fantastic. Many guests at our wedding remarked that it was the best wedding they had been to.


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