Spiced Chickpeas and Vegetable Salad

TASTE THE HEATWAVE: Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad


For five or six days a year, with blatant disregard for normal calendrical expectation,  San Francisco experiences what the rest of the world commonly refers to as “summer.”  Rare and periodic as these inclement temperatures are, it takes us several days to work up to a full heat-induced panic (though the complaining starts the moment the mercury rises above 75 degrees).

We are currently smoldering in the grip of just such a fiery heatwave:  people wander listlessly about, peeled to the innermost layer, wondering what to do with the light jacket they just can’t possibly leave behind regardless of the temperature and yearning, PINING even, for the return of the glorious, cool, romantic embrace of the San Francisco fog and it’s decidedly more humane and appropriate temperatures.  Karl, where are you?.  It was 80 degrees by 8am this morning for heaven’s sake, which drove the resulting evening temperature in the house up somewhere near the top end of 400 — the bread is toasting on the counter.  It’s still a sweltering 85 degrees as my fingers melt across the keyboard.  Heat advisories are in effect!  Hydration levels are plunging!  People are breaking a sweat outside the designated arenas of gyms and bikram yoga studios!  Fortunately, I’m much too distracted by the satisfying clatter of my imaginary swamp cooler in the window to notice your rolling eyes.

Needless to say, igniting a heat source in such perilously incendiary conditions was unthinkable.  Salad was the only solution and I knew just where to go.  Every once in a while, you find a cookbook that speaks a delicious harmony to your tastes.  For me it’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  Every recipe I’ve made from this book has completely rocked our world.  I’m so grateful and deeply indebted to my friend Darlene for the recommendation.

Serve this with some whole wheat pita bread, hummus, a dollop of greek yogurt and chilled white wine and the heat will melt away.  Without further ado, here is something delicious to make when it’s hot out:


Spiced Chickpeas & Fresh Vegetable Salad

  • ½ cup dried chickpeas (I cheated, took the shortcut and used a can)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 8½ oz  radishes
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • ⅔ oz cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
  • ½ oz flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp juice
  • 1½ tbsp sherry1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with plenty of cold water and the baking soda. The next day, drain, place in a large saucepan, and cover with water twice the volume of the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour, until completely tender, then drain.

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into ⅔-inch / 1.5cm dice; cut the onion into ¼-inch / 0.5cm dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tbsp / 75 ml of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly.
Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and ¼ teaspoon salt and spread on a plate. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Divide the salad among four plates, arranging it in a large circle, and spoon the warm spiced chickpeas on top, keeping the edge of the salad clear. You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.

Excerpt From: Yotam Ottolenghi. “Jerusalem.”






Lemon Basil Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Lemon Basil Chicken, Roasted Vegetables and Tomato Roquefort Salad

Tonight we had dinner that was both delicious and by mistake, allowed us to feel righteous in doing all the requisite foodie things: using fresh, local, organic ingredients.  The amazing thing is that in the process, we had an amazing morning riding bikes through The City and bought high-quality produce at a fraction of the cost that we would have spent for imported veggies at Safeway.

From my own personal perspective, financial concerns are greater than they’ve been in a long time.  Through this process, I keep thinking about the old adage that freedom is the enemy of creativity.  Obstacles force you to think about things differently and redefine your priorities as you move forward.  Here’s what we came up with from our fun, cheap adventure at the farmers market today.

Total Weight Watchers Plus Points: 6

Wine suggestion: La Crema Chardonnay

Lemon Basil Chicken on the Grill

Lemon Basil Chicken on the Grill

Lemon Basil Chicken

Servings – 4

Weight Watchers Plus Points per serving: 2


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise and gently pounded to uniform thickness
  • 2 lemons juiced and zested
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp of minced fresh basil
  • a generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  1. Combine lemon juice and zest, minced garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl and stir well.
  2. Place cut chicken in a large ziploc bag.
  3. Add lemon juice marinade and toss well in bag.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and grill until cooked through, flipping several times.
Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Servings: Varies depending on the amount of vegetables

Weight Watchers Plus Points per serving: varies, this version: 3

It doesn’t really matter which vegetables you use, just pick your favorites and dice them into bite-sized pieces.  For me, red peppers, whole cloves of garlic, mushrooms and sliced onions are guaranteed staples.

  • 2 stalks of broccoli
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 2 red spring onions
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 small zucchini
  • shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • button mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of thyme, finely chopped
  • Pepper Plant seasoning (optional – delicious, but optional)


  1. Preheat grill (or oven) to 400°
  2. Chop all vegetables into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and Pepper Plant seasoning and toss well
  4. Arrange on a grill tray (or a cookie sheet if you’re using an oven instead of a grill)
  5. Grill until vegetables are tender and slightly charred, about 40 minutes
  6. Remove from heat, season to taste and serve.

Tomato Roquefort Salad

Servings: 2

Weight Watchers Plus Points per serving: 1

Staying true to the let-nothing-go-to-waste pledge, we used some left over tomatoes and the last bit of the Trader Joe’s Roquefort cheese and created a tasty, simple, easy salad – ridiculously easy, it’s taken much more time time type out than it does to actually make.  I used these fantastic tomatoes we’ve formed an addiction for called Kumato.


  • 2 tomatoes, cored and sliced
  • 3 slices of Roquefort (or other bleu cheese)
  • balsamic vinegar


  1. Arrange tomatoes on plate
  2. Crumble bleu cheese and distribute evenly over tomatoes
  3. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
  4. Dust lightly with salt