This isn’t a complicated recipe: A handful of fresh, crunchy vegetables and a can of nutty chickpeas are brightened up with very good balsamic vinegar, some herbs, and a hit of garlic powder. You’ve probably made something like it before, and I wouldn’t call it brilliant or surprising.
But I would argue that there is a real place for it in your cooking repertoire. I like having a set of recipes to reach for when I’m tired or uninspired or indecisive, and this is a perfect one. Healthy, fresh, and extremely quick, it’s a simple solution for a stress-free, satisfying dinner. Simple little recipes like this one remind me how easy it is to marshal a few pantry ingredients into a satisfying meal—the rubric of ingredients and quantities means you can make dinner on autopilot if need be.
You can also easily tailor this salad to your mood: Spice it up with hot sauce or swap the balsamic for sesame oil and soy sauce. If you’re hungry, top it with chicken or a poached egg. I like to add crumbled ricotta salata to bulk it up and to cool the tang of the vinegar. Without fanfare, this salad anchors you to the stability of a recipe, but also acts as a jumping-off point for your creative whims.
Do you have a favorite back of the box recipe, or have you heard about a great one? Leave any suggestions in the comments, and I'll try them out and share them here!
Photos by Posie Harwood
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).