Weeknight Cooking

Why the Simplest Recipes Are Still Worthwhile

April 26, 2015

If the grocery store isn't your favorite place, it should be. We're sleuthing for the best back-of-the-box recipes and each week we'll share our latest find. 

Today: The dinnertime antidote for tired, uninspired days. 

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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. 

More: Eat chickpeas for breakfast, lunch, dinnerand dessert!

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.

Quick Balsamic Chickpea Salad

Adapted from Goya Foods

Serves 2 (or 1 hungry person)

15 1/2 ounces chickpeas (1 can), drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon very good balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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 

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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).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.

1 Comment

Cinnamin April 26, 2015
I'm a big fan of chickpeas; I usually cook a batch on Sundays and use if for salad and hummus during the week. I also toss it with a simple dressing, veggies and whatever else I have lying around- olives, capers, peppadews, anything!