It’s that time again: the February blahs. In part, I blame mine on too many potatoes and too much soup.
Now don’t misunderstand: comfort food has its place, and root vegetables and slowly braised cuts of meat are definitely good candidates if your cockles need warming. But still, I can’t help but crave freshness this time of year. After days surrounded by artificially warm, mercilessly stale air, I need a little flavor, a little greenery.
Not out-of-season spinach, though, or sad February tomatoes. Aside from citrus and pomegranates, the flat, bland produce of midwinter seems almost lab-created. Artificially perfect yet fundamentally lacking, like red valentine roses bred without scent or thorn.
Instead of limp greenery, I chose to splurge on protein- and fiber-filled quinoa for this salad’s base. (No surprises here. My love of grain salads should be obvious by now.) Quinoa is expensive, but hey, if you’re going to splurge, you might as well splurge on quinoa, right?
And then: parsley. Dark and leafy things seem like a good cure for all that ails you, past, present and future. I feel like herbs are frequently neglected in this category. Parsley, especially, is quite good for you. Did you know it has twice the iron of spinach? You, too, can be a regular Popeye after a bowl of this salad.
We recognize parsley as a garnish, but here it’s almost as much a base as the quinoa, a nod to the Middle Eastern tabbouleh. I’m not going to sugarcoat this: you’re going to get parsley in your teeth eating this salad, and that’s okay.
It’s not all about the parsley, though. There are chickpeas and salty feta and bursts of pomegranate in your teeth. Even working with that weak gasp of late afternoon sunshine, rushing through my shots so there would be time to go outside in that poor light, even then this salad was still really beautiful. Tiny pearls of quinoa, punctuated with garnet and emerald. Texture and contrast are a welcome delight this time of year, especially with sunny lemon dressing. Make a batch of this salad for yourself and take pleasure in the small things.
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 14-ounce can (2 cups, drained) cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 a bunch of mint, finely chopped
- seeds from one pomegranate
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- big handful of almonds, toasted
- salt, to taste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sumac, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Gently fold together salad ingredients and pour over part of the dressing. Sprinkle with a little salt, add gently distribute the dressing, adding more as needed to adequately moisten but not saturate the quinoa. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.