Another dose of French inspiration is presented to me by a friend during our rendez-vous at a local French café in Vancouver when she hands me to read her new copy of “Lunch in Paris”, which includes a chapter with a recipe from the author’s next book, “Picnic in Provence”, from which I concoct the second of this week’s two Special Dishes for the Week:
Chickpea and Sweet Peppers Salad
As I prepare this dish to marinade in the spice-infused olive oil over night, I can nearly taste how much even more alive and delicious it would be with these ingredients picked up in season at a Provençal market.
But alas, I make do with what I currently have available to me, incorporating organic and local ingredients where possible, adding an extra dose of TLC to fill in for the Provençal freshness.
I do treat this dish to authentic herbes de Provence, and serve it with a rosé wine from the south of France, Le Petit Chat Malin (the cunning little cat).
The marinade for this warm salad includes:
- 1/2 cup olive oil, infused with a few spices
- red Thai chili pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp herbes de Provence
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- black pepper and sea salt, to taste
The spice-infused olive oil marinade could be made one day before, or simply on the day of marinading the veggies.
I tenderly douse the salad ingredients in the marinade, putting my heart as well as my hands into the heap of veggie morsels, consisting of:
- large can of organic chickpeas
- 1 of each yellow and red onions, chopped and sliced to different thicknesses and sizes
- 1 of each green, orange and red peppers, coarsely chopped
- cilantro, on the side for garnish
I leave the marinading veggies over night in the fridge, loosely covering the oven glass dish with a baking sheet to let the veggies breathe but not dry out.
The next day, I bring the marinaded veggies to room temperature, and shortly before my lunch guest arrives, I place dish in the oven for about 1 hour at 350F (180C).
I suspect that the cooking time could be decreased when the veggies have marinaded over night, resulting in a more crispy onions and peppers. As it is, the “salad” turns out to be more of a “stew”.
Nonetheless, it is very tasty, and where lacking in crispness, the spiciness gives this warm salad a kick. Garnished with chopped raw cilantro, it is both a taste and visual sensation!
Though it is a rainy and chilly day in Vancouver, the colours and spices of this Provençal dish, enhanced further by the rosé, bring out the sunshine from within the feasting diners.
The dessert of gluten- and dairy-free peanut butter apple crumble—my lunch guest’s creation—rounds out this delicious meal, one that begins with a short guided meditation and ends with a lovely walk through Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood when the rain subsides for the afternoon.
Meal ideas & recipes from “Picnic in Provence” book.