One of the things I miss most about living in Minnesota is the bounty of tomatoes and cucumbers my family harvested each summer. Well, to put it more generally…I miss home-grown food. I can’t tell if everything tasted better because they weren’t from the mass-producing farms or if it was due to the time and effort that went into raising these plants to maturity. Sweet pea pods. Carrots with a little bit of dirt still clinging to them. Corn fresh off the cob, as I squatted in the rows so my dad wouldn’t see me. I digress.
My parents got really creative to avoid wasting the overflow that inevitably happened. What my mum couldn’t turn into a meal, she froze or canned. I remember seeing so many bags of shredded zucchini waiting in the freezer to be turned into delicious Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. And that’s definitely a recipe for another day because that shit is goooood.
I think I started making this “salad” when I was around 15 or 16. I was a vegetarian at the time, loved tomatoes, and was sick of fixing myself brown rice, fried eggs, and frozen vegetables for dinner almost every night. I knew how to bake. I didn’t know how to cook. Not really. So I started simple…I cut up cucumbers and tomatoes and added Italian dressing and feta cheese. Voila! I had a summer dinner. And while that is delicious, I’ve grown up a bit and realize how full of sodium that is. So now when I have an overflow of my favorite “vegetable” (I know, I know it’s a fruit!) I make this slightly more grown-up version.
With the added chickpeas, this could be a main dish, as well as a delicious summer side.
Time: 15-20 minutes
1 can (or 2 cups) chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 a medium red onion
2 1/2 tbls. Balsamic vinegar
3 tbls. good olive oil
A dash of turmeric
1/3 tsp. dried basil
Juice from one lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup feta
Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite size pieces. Dice the red onion. I cut mine fairly thin–I can’t stand biting into a huge piece of onion–but it’s up to you.
Combine the tomato, cucumber, red onion, and chickpeas in a bowl.
In a separate bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, turmeric, dried basil, lemon, and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well before drizzling it over the vegetables.
Stir well to combine. Sprinkle the feta over the top and serve.