Italian Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic and Maple Dressing

Picnics with friends are hard.  Sometimes I know exactly what to bring and sometimes it takes me days to figure something out.  Today was one of THOSE days.  The indecisive persona took over, and I couldn’t determine whether a salad would suffice or a desert.  Brownies or cookies are usually good, but wouldn’t everyone else bring those?  They ARE a picnic staple.

The decision came when the almost pathetic looking basil clippings raised their slightly dulling leaves and outstretched branches through the non-recyclable plastic container.  Use me.  Now.  Or your money will be wasted.

Why yes, Basil clippings.  You are right.

If you have the following items on hand, you are set to make this recipe: chickpeas, onion, tomato, basil, oil, vinegar, and a sweetener.  Good to go.  If you don’t have any maple syrup (because, WHO else NEEDS maple syrup?!?) then use what you have – sugar, dates (might be a fun twist), or even dried apricots – pureed.  They might need a bit of fanangling to work – think: rehydrate in a little bit of water, then blend with other dressing ingredients until smooth.

Italian Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic and Maple Dressing
Italian Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic and Maple Dressing

Italian Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic and Maple Dressing

For the Salad:

3 and 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cubed, sliced, or wedged cucumbers
1 and 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded basil (loosely packed)
1/4 cup minced purple onion
salt and pepper to taste

For dressing:

4-5 cloves roasted garlic, smashed to a paste (Or, you can wait until 3rd sentence in directions)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: In a medium mixing bowl, VERY coarsely smash the chickpeas (You want to keep them mostly in tact, but a slight smashing will help the salad ingredients adhere to each other).  Then, add the rest of the salad ingredients and mix well.

In a small bowl (Think: Teensy, almost ramekin-ish), smash roasted garlic to a paste.  Add in olive oil and stir well.  Then, add the rest of dressing ingredients.

Side Note: You could add all of the dressing ingredients at once and then stir, but it might be harder to get a smooth consistency.  But, it’s up to you.

Next, pour dressing over salad and stir to coat (Well).  Eat immediately, because it’s THAT good.  Or, cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld.  When you’re ready to eat it the next morning, because you’ve been thinking about it all night – well… Stir and serve.  And eat with a fork.

Italian Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic and Maple Dressing
Italian Chickpea Salad with Roasted Garlic and Maple Dressing

Makes: 4-5 side dish servings

Happy eating!

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