Lunch

This Chickpea Salad Is How We Do Power Lunch at Food52

April  4, 2017

As the Test Kitchen Chef at Food52, I oversee nearly everything that gets cooked in our kitchen. Although I spend the majority of my time working on photo and video shoots, an interesting aspect of my job is that I prepare and serve lunch when we host a business meeting in our office.

For lunch meetings, I choose which recipe to serve based on three criteria:

  1. The recipe must serve a crowd easily.
  2. The recipe must be vegetarian, and it must prominently feature seasonal produce.
  3. The recipe must not be too time consuming. (Sorry but not sorry, I’m a busy chef.)
This is how we woo our clients. Photo by Julia Gartland

There is one preparation in particular that I have recently fallen in love with, because it not only tastes delicious and looks attractive, but also satisfies all three criteria. Normally, if I make the same dish more than a few times, I grow antsy to experiment with new ingredients and flavors. Yet, I repeatedly cook Spiced Chickpeas with Wilted Kale and Roasted Carrots because the recipe allows for a multitude of fun substitutions and creative choices.

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I usually begin this recipe by sautéing shallots in olive oil and then adding diced cilantro stems—one of my all-time favorite ingredients—and a spice mix that includes sumac, coriander, and cumin. However, if I’m in the mood to use garlic and onions instead of shallots, or if I want to use za'atar instead of cumin, the recipe will taste just as good. It is designed for flexibility, which has the added bonus of allowing me to utilize what I already have on hand rather than having to shop for extra ingredients.

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Top Comment:
“The main ingredients are: -finely chopped lacinato or curly kale, massaged with olive oil & salt -cooked quinoa, chilled -roasted chunks of kabocha squash Dress simply with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Use your hands to distribute everything evenly and adjust the seasoning. There should be a lemon-y brightness and an accent of tingliness from the black pepper. The kale:quinoa ratio should be around 2:1; this is a kale salad with quinoa, not vice versa. ”
— Emily
Comment

When the spices in the skillet become fragrant and the shallots begin to soften and caramelize, I add the chickpeas, followed by red kale (although you can substitute this with any hearty green that you desire). When the kale begins to wilt down, I remove the skillet from the heat and create a delicate sauce by adding lime juice and a dollop of crème fraîche. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature, garnished with roasted carrots, cilantro leaves, and some crispy shallots if you are feeling ambitious.

As spring produce starts to appear at the local New York City farmers markets, I know that soon I will have to retire this admittedly wintery recipe and find something new to serve during lunch meetings—although if I substitute charred sugar snap peas for the roasted carrots, I could probably continue serving this dish until early June! The point, however, is that I am actively looking for new recipe ideas to serve during lunch meetings, and I want to explicitly call on YOU, the beloved Food52 community, for inspiration.

Leave a comment at the bottom of this article and recommend what you would cook for a business lunch at Food52. Keep in mind the three criteria listed above, and suggest recipe ideas (ideally in links) that are beautiful enough to serve to Amanda Hesser, yet rustic enough to serve as part of a casual, family-style meal. If I end up serving your recipe at the next office lunch, I will be sure to give you a big shout out on social media.

Have ideas about what our new power lunch should be? Share them in the comments!

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9 Comments

Liz |. April 10, 2017
Feta and greens polenta pie can be eaten cold and makes good use of the greens of the season : https://www.inspiredbytheseasons.com/blog/2016/12/13/feta-greens-polenta-pie<br />Another option is this cauliflower chickpea recipe that would be enhanced with springtime earthiness by switching out the parsley for pea shoots. <br />https://www.inspiredbytheseasons.com/blog/2016/5/29/chickpea-cauliflower-salad?rq=cauliflower
 
bea April 5, 2017
Panzanella.
 
Saffron3 April 5, 2017
I make power lunches now and then, for folks sophisticated but in a hurry. I do combos of: one fruit, one bean, one dark leafy, one light leafy, one red vege, one crunchy snappy bright vege. Olives and cheeses and dates in bowls to add. Toss up the salad, oil and lemon, herbs in, plates out, boxes to pack up if leaving. Tiny long skinny breadsticks. Salt and pepper just a tad, more available. A huge crowd; two of each category above.
 
peanut B. April 5, 2017
I found myself wandering around London at the beginning of the year. Shortly before I returned to America, I had lunch by myself at The River Cafe: frittata and lentils. They were on two separate plates. I can't get into it now, but it was impressive and very filling, which I might appreciate after a business meeting. Frittatas are easy and easy to make for a lot of people, but I think you should try it at least once with olives and chard, like they did in London. You could make it while https://food52.com/recipes/20378-patricia-wells-green-lentil-salad is on the stove. That one gets me every time.
 
Anne April 4, 2017
I just saw a recipe on a blog that was basically a sheet pan of roasted vegetables and the protein was interchangeable with your choice, tofu, (chicken-not vegetarian I know - but just sayin') nuts, beans, lentil, barley seitien-The marinade can be Italian, oriental, Indian! It seemed versital and looked yummy.
 
Emily April 4, 2017
What a beautiful salad! <br /><br />If I were in your shoes, I would make a simple kale salad with quinoa and roasted kabocha. <br />The main ingredients are: <br />-finely chopped lacinato or curly kale, massaged with olive oil & salt<br />-cooked quinoa, chilled <br />-roasted chunks of kabocha squash<br /><br />Dress simply with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Use your hands to distribute everything evenly and adjust the seasoning. There should be a lemon-y brightness and an accent of tingliness from the black pepper. The kale:quinoa ratio should be around 2:1; this is a kale salad with quinoa, not vice versa.
 
Joan B. April 4, 2017
I second panzanella. The classics never disappoint. I'd also be happy to be served salade Nicoise, Cobb salad, or even a proper Caesar salad.
 
Amanda April 4, 2017
I would make panzanella. Delicious, perfect for spring and summer, and flexible enough to use whatever produce is available. <br />http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/panzanella-12529
 
Azora Z. April 4, 2017
I love this article! Great for a Not Sad Desk Lunch too-- thank you for the many power lunches you've made :)