Chickpea, Red Bean and Herb Salad

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Our friend the chickpea (which also goes by the name ‘garbanzo bean’) has gained new levels of popularity in recent years, a testament to its survival as a desired legume for centuries. Its application far exceeds its reputation of being useful in just making hummus and is found in entrees often in the form of purees, in salads, in healthy snacks and — I just found this out — even in desserts. Apparently there is a Filipino dessert called Halo-halo which features this pea — I so have to try that! 

Whenever I go shopping at Whole Foods, I always have to make a stop at their salad bar to pick up their variation of this salad. It’s a great healthy pick-me-up and is equally gorgeous to look at. This same salad is frequently found at Mediterranean restaurants and salad bars and always calls out my name amid a sea of other salads. 

Chickpeas are very high in protein but low in fat and they’re packed with zinc and folate and all sorts of other minerals that are great for your body. This salad is uber refreshing and although there are a fair amount of fresh ingredients, there is not a ton of seasoning so the ingredients really shine in their natural state. I can eat bowlfuls of this at a time. In fact, you can make a meal out of this: Serve it up with a side of grilled chicken and your dinner is sorted. 

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Watermelon Mint Cooler + Tips for Selecting a Perfectly Ripe Watermelon

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I had a dream last night. I dreamt that I was wandering about a watermelon patch, knee deep in winding vines and leaves with the earthy aroma of sweet vine ripened watermelons wafting about the air. I reached down to run my hand over the smooth surface of a melon, rolling my fingertips down along the sides of its cool and ethereally smooth exterior until it suddenly cracked open with a snap, revealing a deep crimson flesh beautifully speckled with little black seeds. Without even tasting it, I could tell the melon was ripe, its juices running down its interior before pooling beneath its rind. Just as I reached into the melon to retrieve a sweet, firm piece of melon to sweeten my tongue, I suddenly heard a ringing in the distance. The ringing increased in volume by the second until it reached a loud rhythmic blare. Ah, yes, it was the ever-dreaded alarm clock to shake me from my dream and jolt me back to reality. 

Needless to say, I awoke with a hankering for sweet watermelon, and off to the farmer’s market I went to retrieve a beautiful melon for myself. I promised you all recipes that were conducive to the summer months, ones that would satiate the most demanding of palates and ones that would epitomize the beautiful season of summer. My word is my bond, and so, as promised, I bring you this recipe for a gorgeous red drink that is sure to stave off your summer-time thirst and refresh your palate. 

This cooler is a lemonade of sorts combining watermelon, lemon, mint and even cucumber to create a refreshing and filling drink that was made for summer meals and hot days in the sun. The lemon adds a splash of tang and the cucumber provides a wonderful (and much needed) cooling effect on your body and makes this cooler unbelievably refreshing and even healthy! Mint is classically paired with watermelon, so why mess with tradition. The drink itself is not overly sweetened with sugar since the watermelon – if it is ripe and fresh – will naturally sweeten it.

Watermelons are available at your local farmer’s market during the summer months. There’s a lovely farm about 5 minutes away from us that has trucks upon trucks of delicious watermelon. On a daily basis, legions of locals will flock to the market to retrieve beautiful green watermelons which are sure to be gobbled up within minutes of slicing!

Tips for Selecting a Perfectly Ripe and Sweet Melon: When shopping for watermelon, look for a melon that is free of dents, bruises, and cuts. If the underside of the melon has a yellow or light bottom, it should be perfectly ripe. If distinct stripes are found all around the melon, that indicates that they’re not ripe and sweet. You’ll often find people tapping a watermelon as they put it up to their ear. You’ll want to do that to check for signs of hollowness. If the melon sounds hollow when tapped, it means it’s fresh and ripe! Lastly, your watermelon should be heavy for its size. Watermelons have a very high water content so a ripe, sweet melon should be heavy and dense.  Before cutting, wash watermelons with soap and water so dirt on the rind doesn’t get into into the flesh. You can refrigerate cut watermelon in a sealed container for up to one week. Uncut watermelons can be stored at room temperature up to two weeks before they start to spoil. 

The watermelon truly defines summer for most of us and is enjoyed in recipes as much as it is on its own, so, don’t be surprised if you find it popping up in recipes everywhere this summer!

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DSC_0113 Coarsely chop the watermelon – it doesn’t have to be perfect – as it will all be pureed in the blender. 

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