Thursday, July 17, 2008

Work in Progress: Take a Break

Creativity cannot be on call 24/7, and one of the things I like to do to take a break from the work of writing is to cook. There are things to do away from writing that help me come up with solutions to current writing problems (a long walk, riding the Metro [odd, but true], naps) but sometimes, I just want to be AWAY from writing, and for me, cooking—a creative act in itself—is my favorite escape.

So here’s one of the best new, easy recipes of my summer. It’s from Cooking Light magazine, and for those of you who are concerned about such things, there are 161 calories per serving. And if you’re the kind of person who’s nervous about chickpeas, don’t be. These are fantastic! However, if you don’t like cilantro, read no further. You’ll quickly see this is NOT the recipe for you. But I love cilantro, and I think this dressing would be great on a variety of vegetables or in chicken salad. It’s a winner!

Chickpea Salad with Cilantro Dressing

2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves [another won’t kill you]
2 pickled jalapeno pepper slices [I like spicy food, so I added more]
¼ cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth [you can freeze the leftover broth for later use]
½ cup chopped seeded peeled cucumbers
½ cup thinly sliced radishes
¼ cup chopped celery
2 (15 ½ ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
12 Boston lettuce leaves [I skipped this and ate the salad as is]

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a food processor or a blender; process until well blended. Add chicken broth; pulse until combined.

Combine cucumber, radishes, celery, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Drizzle with cilantro mixture; toss to coat.

[If you can, let the salad sit for an hour to allow the flavors to develop. As noted above, I skipped the lettuce, but here are the directions for that final step:]

Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter; spoon chickpea mixture over lettuce. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup bean mixture and 2 lettuce leaves).


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.