The Princess and the Chickpea

I wouldn’t normally call myself a princess but on the odd occasion I may be known to have a princess moment or two. When I’m sick for instance or things don’t go the way I imagine they will – insert potential princess tantrum here. I realised I was in the midst of one earlier  this week when, due to not feeling that great, I decided to throw myself a pity party. I mean, I’d felt lousy for over a week, had to waste a whole weekend pretty much in bed, followed by a miserable day at work on Monday, a trip to the doctor and another day in bed on Tuesday and still a sore throat and blocked ears that would just not bugger off!

It wasn’t until Thursday morning when I was on the bus (or Sydney’s germ exchange service as I prefer to call it), staring out the window wishing I had a new set of unblocked ears that I caught sight of a woman not much younger than me who was sleeping rough and at that moment, was busy coughing up a lung. Ah, perspective. That was what I’d been missing. Here was I with a home, a warm bed, access to medical care, money to pay for whatever drugs I needed and food to eat and I still felt sorry for myself. Definitely a princess and the pea kinda moment. Did anyone else love that fairy tale as a child?!

Whether it was the antibiotics that kicked in or the fact I decided to appreciate the amazing amount of good in my life rather the tiny amount of not so good, my week suddenly picked up and I even found myself back in the kitchen. Although my appetite isn’t back quite yet, I do feel like cooking lots of spring-time, feel good foods. This chickpea salad is something I’ve been obsessed with since I discovered chickpeas, which I must admit was not that many years ago… It goes a long way, has loads of fresh ingredients and packs well should you be so inclined to enjoy a picnic. Paired with some chargrilled citrus and garlic chicken skewers you have the perfect lunch for a spectacularly sunny Saturday!

Big shout out to my amazing friend Kate who gave me the beautiful plate I used in the photos, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever received a more lovely gift, I completely adore it!

Citrus and garlic chicken with a chickpea salad (serves 4-6)

  • 1.2kg chicken breast, cut into 2-3cm cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons and 1 blood orange
  • 2 tsbp olive oil
  • 1 cup cous cous, cooked and cooled
  • 400gm chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2 sweet potato, cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 zucchini, cut into large cubes
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 small beetroot (or purple carrot), grated
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups mint and parsley, chopped
  • 100gm fetta
  • Cracked pepper
  1. Marinade the chicken in the garlic, zest and juice of the blood orange and 2 of the lemons and olive oil for about 3 hours. Thread onto metal skewers and set aside until ready to grill. If you’re using bamboo skewers, you can soak them in water for about 10 minutes before using to stop them from burning.
  2. To make the salad, bake the sweet potato, zucchini and eggplant for about 20 minutes in a 200 degree celsius oven. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, add the cooled cous cous, red onion, chickpeas, capsicum, 2/3 of the mint and parsley (reserving the rest for the garnish), remaining lemon zest and juice and mix well. Stir through the baked veggies, grated carrot and beetroot and cracked pepper (to taste). Crumble the fetta over the salad and add a little good quality olive oil. Toss through lightly.
  4. Grill the chicken skewers on a hot BBQ or grill pan for about 3-4 minutes on both sides or just cooked through. Squeeze over some extra lemon juice and add the remaining mint and parsley. Serve with the chickpea salad.

Happy weekend!