Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mediterranean Shrimp and Chickpea Salad Recipe

I was recently in Washington, DC and a former colleague took me to a fabulous brunch at the Lafayette Room of the Hay-Adams Hotel. Not having heard of the place before, I was bracing myself for the “Hey Adam!” Irish pub, but was delighted to discover this DC institution.

In 1884 two famous Americans – statesman John Hay and historian Henry Adams – built homes on the site where the Italian Renaissance mansion (built in 1928) now stands, next to Lafayette Park and the White House. I was told that this is the place for a power breakfast in DC – and as close as you can stay to the White House without being a guest of the President.

The brunch included an appetizer buffet, plated course (I had seared ahi tuna) and a dessert buffet. The food was good, plentiful and well-displayed. One item that caught my attention was the chickpea salad, which I have noticed as an increasingly popular brunch item. Their dish was mild, but I have a flavorful version which is my treat of the week.

What I love about this recipe is that you can include or exclude items based on what is in your fridge and pantry, which makes this a great last-minute dish. It can also be made without shrimp and feta for our vegetarian and vegans friends. If you omit the feta, season with salt before serving.

My father is a huge fan of chickpeas and he often extols their versatility, especially in Indian cooking where they are known as channa or chana, and are ground into flour (called gram flour or besan) and widely used in sweets and snacks. Look for more chickpea and chickpea flour recipes in the coming months.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 8-10 as a side-dish


30-40 shrimp, cooked and de-tailed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
juice of two lemons

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 garlic gloves, minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 16-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
one small red onion chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes halved
6 ounces feta cheese cubed (if omitting, season with salt)
juice and zest of one lemon


1. Clean and cook (or thaw) shrimp and toss with 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, oregano and juice of two lemons.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat sauté cumin seeds, minced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Stir occasionally and after 3-5 minutes, cool completely.
3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, adding the feta and shrimp last.
4. Pour the infused oil mixture over the salad and toss to blend. Serve at room temperature.

This dish tastes best if prepared a day or two in advance, and stored in the fridge. Do not add feta until ready to serve.


Kate said...

What would you recommend for those who do not like cumin? Is there a viable substitute or should I just eliminate it?


AKR said...

Great question. A good resource for food substitutes is: http://www.foodsubs.com. It recommends half as many caraway seeds OR black cumin seeds (which are sweeter) OR caraway seeds + anise seeds OR chili powder. You could eliminate the cumin entirely since there are so many other flavors in this dish, but I would try one of the substitutes first.

erika said...

These recipes look amazing! Thanks for this great blog. I am looking for a "signature" potluck recipe that I can use regularly that everyone will enjoy. My online searches invariably result in some sort of condensed soup concoction, but I am looking for something more original/tasty/moderately healthy. Any ideas?

cheesewithaspoon said...

I remember making this with you once :-) . It certainly was yummy!

Could not post comments on Blogger for a while (something bad happened when I "updated" to the new version of Blogger) but the problem is now fixed so I'm back!