After yesterday’s detour into the flour bin, we’re back to the whole chickpea today. I am bound and determined to find one way to make everyone try them, which may explain the drop in readership. Friday, there will be cake. But only if you have finished your chickpeas.
This may be another one of those things you have to make without telling yourself or anyone around you what is in it. Like the parsnip oven fries, it sounds like love beads and macramé wall hangings will come in to play. Also like the parsnip oven fries, I will try to distract you for a minute by yakking about how good for you this will be--perhaps misguidedly, because I should just tell you it’s tasty. Then, perhaps, (like the effect I’ve enjoyed recently with the parsnip oven fries) I will begin to be lovingly accosted in public places by beautiful, fresh-faced children who happily ate the thing and want to smile at me because I told their mother to make it for them.
So, quickly: arame is a kind of seaweed, but it is not slimy and it does not taste like it was stuck to the bottom of your kayak. It brings you astonishing levels of calcium, iron and trace minerals, plus elusive vitamins and immune-, libido- and joint health-supporting effects that you would be hard-pressed to find on the resumé of other things in your grocery cart.
Plus: we are going to douse it, and the chickpeas it rides in on, with lots of that irresistible triple threat of lemon, olive oil and salt. It’s a flexible set-up, in that you can leave it at that, or continue gilding the lily with a bunch of optional accessory ingredients.
Arame is, like most of its weedy brethren, available on most Asian aisles of the Gourmet Shoppe and/or Wheatberry Emporium type of establishment near you, as well as in any Asian market worth its salt. It looks like the wiring of some motorized vehicle left too long in a damp garage full of mice, but after a quick soak is less unfriendly in appearance. The soaking water is a boon to any houseplants you may have, so give them a treat while you are at it by throwing it into your watering can.
chickpea & arame salad
One good size handful of arame
2 c cooked chickpeas, drained (if canned, then rinse them)
juice of a lemon
¼ c really good olive oil
½ t cumin
a pinch to 1/8 t cayenne
1/2 to 1 t sea salt, or to taste
large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 t finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, mashed or minced
1-2 scallions, white and light parts only, minced
handful of green beans, blanched and cooled and cut into 1-2” sections
Soak the arame in water for ten minutes or so, and then drain it well, pressing excess water out.
In a medium size bowl, lightly mash some or all of the chickpeas. You can skip this step, but it does help the little fellas absorb more of the flavor. Now combine with the remaining ingredients--the seaweed and the seasonings--and taste to adjust the flavors to your liking. It likes to sit a little before you eat it, but if it will be longer than about a half hour you may want to wait to add the parsley. A long time in that much lemon juice will diminish its beautiful green. If you have let it sit, taste again before you serve as a little booster shot of lemon juice and salt is often desirable at that point.