Zucchini and Chickpea Salad

Guys, it’s the first day of spring! Last night laying in bed, Anup and I gave each other props for surviving another winter here in Canada. A random memory from India comes to mind. Unlike in the western world, we don’t get running water all day long in India. The municipality gives running water about one hour a day, and in this window of time, people have to save up water they might need during the day. Most homes build a water tank that can store up the water for later use. My grandma, who lived with us and was always home, was in charge of this task.

All she had to do was turn on the switch for the motor to fill up the tank. She would turn on the switch, and then sit out on the swing. If neighbors, or any of us asked what she was doing, she would say I am filling up the tank. No matter that she didn’t really have to do any work, she wasn’t going to let anyone deny her the pat on the back! Anup and I feeling a sense of achievement about surviving the winter is similar, but yet here we are, celebrating the first day of spring!

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Its a bright sunny day in Vancouver, like a perfect trailer to a good movie you have been waiting for months. Spring and summer to us means being more outdoors, more hikes, more runs, more tennis and of course, more farmers markets! When we lived in Florida, we had sunny weather all year long. Something about it being so consistent made us take it for granted. But here in Vancouver, knowing that winter is lurking somewhere and its going to take over your days soon, we max out our outdoor activities in the summer! Last summer we even went camping for the first time ever!

In the western world, we have great infrastructure, hot and cold running water all day and no bugs in our homes. So, we look to escape all these manicured surroundings we live in and go out in the woods once in a while to enjoy a different experience. But in India, we could experience such rustic surroundings right in our homes, so camping was a bit pointless! No running water? check. Bugs in the house? check. No air conditioning? check. So may be we are turning into “westerners”, but we finally found a reason to escape away and go camping last summer!

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Since Anup and I had no experience building a tent, building a fire or in general being in the woods, we had to take our dear friend Alexandra who was kind enough to tag along on a short notice! I think she was excited to show off her camping skills, but we needed all her enthusiasm and were not complaining. Alex had found a beautiful lake front camping site at Monck Provincial Park, tucked away in a mountainous area a few hours away from Vancouver! While the entire camping experience was a blast, the cook in me absolutely fell in love with grilling on an open fire! From breakfast to dinner, if we wanted to eat something hot, it was to be cooked on the wood fire. Ever since winter started, I have been telling myself that grilling is going to be my thing next summer!

So, I wanted to get a head start and celebrate the first day of spring by grilling zucchini! To contrast the tenderness of grilled zucchini, I have used crunchy roasted chickpeas. The smokiness of the grilled zucchini also pairs nicely with the salsa made out of cherry tomatoes, shallots and herbs. Use this salad as your main meal, or pair it with grilled meats! Here’s to the summer to come!

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Zucchini and Chickpea Salad

Cook time:

Recipe:
4 zucchini
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Cut zucchini length wise in half. Place cut side up and sprinkle with salt. Flip and set aside for 30 minutes until it releases some of its water. The goal here is to make the zucchini less watery, and get it ready for grilling. Pat dry and brush both sides with olive oil. You can skip this step if you are eating the salad right away and don’t mind the zucchini a bit on the tender side.

Set grill on medium high heat. Put zucchini on grill, cook until charred, flip once.

2 cup chickpeas – cooked
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp smoke paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven 400°F.

Toss chickpeas with olive oil, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Spread them out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until crisply and golden. Set aside.

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Salsa
1 cup cherry tomatoes – sliced in half
2 medium shallots – peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup basil/cilantro/ dill – chopped
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

In a bowl mix tomatoes, shallots, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well and set it aside.

I love serving this salad family style. Let people mix the zucchini, roasted chickpeas and salsa the way they like it!

Comments

  1. jaisree says

    Hi Medha,

    I have a question regarding the zucchini. You mentioned, sprinkling salt and letting it sit for an hour, to make it less watery, while grilling. Does it drain out some nutrients with the water as well? If so, is there an alternate way of letting the water drain without adding salt, so we can reuse the water for cooking a broth or something?

    Thank you,
    Jaisree

    • says

      Jaisree, thanks for your comment! Most of the water in the zucchini is going to evaporate during grilling anyway. The reason why I wanted to reduce the water in zucchini before grilling was to make sure it didn’t get mushy and held its shape. You can skip this step if you are eating the salad right away and don’t mind the zucchini a bit on the tender side.

      You will only get about a spoonful of water from each zucchini. Because of the salt, I don’t recommend using it as a broth.

  2. Alexandra says

    Hey – I knew someone must be talking about me – my ears were ringing! 😉 I was more than happy to help make your first camping experience a blast. Thanks for being so kind with your words because I distinctly remember me dragging you two into the middle of the woods on short notice.

    Regardless I’m honored to be included in your blog Medha and happy to be your friend. Anytime you want to go camping again I would be more than happy to pitch your tent for you – as long as you bring this spectacular grilled recipe with you :)

  3. says

    I was in-charge of filling the tank back home! I miss those days. Lovely pics esp of the pigeons and shallots. Salad looks really delish and what better way to welcome the spring!

  4. says

    I love how you have juxtaposed those pictures. I can’t wait for summer and grilling either. Thats funny about how life in India is like living in wilderness – even in big cities and towns not just villages. It was a less sterile life but fun nonetheless.

  5. lopa says

    Fantastic post, Medha. What a healthy yummy salad!, Love your ideas.
    Your recipes and photographs amazed me every time. Great work.

  6. says

    I love reading your blog, and this recipe sounds absolutely delicious! Spring is upon us here in Germany too, and I’ll definitely try your zucchini at some point this week (and maybe take the recipe on our next camping trip to Norway in July 😉

    All best
    Anna

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