This is a warm salad featuring an unusual ingredient: pickled turnips. The dish has all the flavors of a Mediterranean favorite -- a falafel sandwich -- but is served on a platter arranged like a salad Nicoise. Everyone can help themselves to create the right mix that suits their palates. Chopping all the ingredients takes a bit of time; think of the process like painting a masterpiece of colors and textures.
Pickled turnips can be purchased at Mediterranean grocery stores, as can ground sumac.
- For the vinaigrette
- Leaves from 1/2 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the salad
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 14 ounces canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick matchsticks
- 4 to 6 mint leaves, minced (2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (see NOTE)
- 3 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 small red onion, cut into thin slices
- 1 cup pickled turnips (if not already cut into julienne, cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks; see headnote)
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 pieces pita bread, cut into quarters and toasted
- 1 cup Greek-style plain nonfat yogurt
- Juice from 1/2 or 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
- Ground sumac (see headnote)
For the vinaigrette: Combine the parsley, vinegar and garlic in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl twice. With machine running, gradually add the oil to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The yield is 1 cup.
For the salad: Have a large platter ready to arrange all the salad ingredients. The chickpea mixture will be plated in the center surrounded by all the other ingredients, except the toasted pita triangles.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander and minced garlic; cook for about 2 minutes, until the garlic and spices release their aroma.
Add the drained chickpeas and stir to combine. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the chickpeas are warmed through. Transfer to the center of the platter.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the carrots. Cook for about 3 minutes, until tender. Add the mint and mix well. Remove from the heat, then add the toasted sesame seeds. Transfer the carrot mixture to a spot on the platter beside the chickpeas.
Arrange the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced onions, pickled turnips and crumbled feta cheese in the remaining space around the chickpeas. Drizzle the vegetables with the parsley vinaigrette.
Place the pita triangles in a basket and serve alongside the salad.
Combine the yogurt and lemon juice; sprinkle with the ground sumac to taste and mix well. Serve separately at the table.
NOTE: Toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes, shaking them often to keep them from burning, until lightly browned.
Adapted from Cynthia A. Brown, assistant gardener at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria.
Tested by Cynthia A. Brown.
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