Rocket & Chickpea Salad with Cantaloupe Dressing

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I made the salad dressing earlier and let it refrigerate so the flavors were mellowed and blended. I used a Magic Bullet™ but a blender or food processor would work even better.  My inspiration was a Linguini al Melone I had several years back at Martinelli’s, a wonderful local deli that closed last year. The linguine has a melon cream sauce. It was as delicious as it was weird, so every taste, I was thinking this is so weird, it tastes so good.

I thought melon might be just sweet and creamy enough to pair very well with rocket – which I have a lot of thanks to the Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share. Rocket is peppery and its bold flavor takes some thought to balance.

Melon Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup of melon
  • 1/4 small yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add everything together and pulse until smooth. You may adjust ingredients to your taste, but remember it is a dressing so you want the flavor more intense than what you would eat plain. It should be tart and sweet. Honey might be a good substitute for sugar, but I don’t have any except buckwheat honey and that is too smokey a flavor for this.

Toasted Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse thoroughly. Drain so they are dry. You can pat them dry with a paper towel if you are in a hurry. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove a medium high heat, about 7 out of 10 on an electric stove. Add the chickpeas without oil and toast them, shaking the pan frequently so they do not burn. When they first begin to pop in the pan (just a little pop, not like popcorn) shake some salt and paprika on them and keep shaking and roasting until they are browned and slightly toasted. I would normally roast them in the oven but it’s over 90°.

Rocket Salad

Cut a very small yellow onion in half length-wise, cut off the ends and then slice thinly length-wise for small strips of onion. Then chop two stalks of celery on the diagonal for nice thin, but longish pieces. Then add about 4 cups of rocket. You can see that about half the salad volume is rocket.

Toss the chickpeas on top and stir. Add the dressing when you serve so the dressing does not make the chickpeas mushy.

This is a delicious salad. There is the bite of the onion, the earthy celery, the peppery rocket and the smoky, salty paprika of the chickpeas and blended and worked together with the sweet and tangy cantaloupe dressing.

This makes 4 servings, though you could make it in smaller batches and save the toasted chickpeas for something else.

 

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Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

This salad is inspired by Aarti Sequeira’s salad for Food Network, but I have changed it slightly.

I cut up 1 watermelon and 1 cantaloupe into 1 inch pieces. As I cut them up, I put them into my giant colander inside a large mixing bowl so that the juice dripped into the bowl. While removing the rind from the watermelon, I set it to one side to use for a watermelon chutney. I left the fruit to drain into the bowl for an hour.

Coming back, I poured the melon juice into a glass for a lovely glass of juice. However, I took 2 tbsp of the juice and put it in a small bowl with 1 tbsp of raw buckwheat honey and stirred and stirred and stirred until the honey was blended with the juice. I then juiced two limes into the bowl and 2 generous pinches of sumac. I cleaned and chopped about 1/2 cup of fresh mint and added it to the bowl. I mixed these together and dressed the watermelon. I put it all in a plastic container to marinate a bit.

When serving, I just spooned some salad in the bowl and sprinkled feta on top. I do not mix the feta in with the salad until serving because I don’t want it to soften in the dressing.

Watermelon is my favorite fruit. I honestly thought nothing could improve on watermelon. Watermelon is so delicious it hardly needs anything to make it better, but the tartness of the sumac and the bright mint and sour lemon and that hearty buckwheat honey are just amazing together and then the bit of feta. There really can be something better than watermelon.