A Mango, Some Chickpeas and a Red Pepper Walk Into a Bowl…

IMG_3563It was one of those days. Too much to do, too tired from weekend work and no motivation to walk the half block from my doorstep to the local Molly Stone’s to pick up something for Ben and I to enjoy for dinner. It was a “make do” kind of evening.

When I opened the fridge I saw one mango, one half of a red bell pepper, a snippet of jalapeño and a half box of tired arugula and greens. There was a lemon, too. Just enough for a salad I suppose, but not much of one. This ragtag collection of produce needed something to kick things up a notch and I found it in my pantry – a can of organic chickpeas.

I could have just drained the can of chickpeas and been happy with that, but the combination of cool, sweet mango and hot jalapeño demanded that they rise above what is usually a nutritious but – lets face it – a boring presentation of beige. (Note to the aquafaba curious – no, I didn’t save it. I’ll do that on a day when I have more time to play in the kitchen.)

IMG_3564Normally I would roast the chickpeas but expediency called for something a less healthy but definitely faster. I pulled out a pan, added enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. While that was heating I used a separate bowl to toss the chickpeas in cumin, a pinch of cayenne, a bit of turmeric, salt and pepper. Honestly, I may have thrown in a bit of curry powder, too. I suppose any combination of spice will do but I wanted a flavor profile with a bit of complex heat to balance the bitter arugula and chilled mango.

I stirred the chickpeas occasionally – I wanted them crunchy on the outside, not burnt. In between stirs I cut the mango into bite sized chunks, turned the jalapeño into a fine dice and chopped the red pepper. All of this was added to the arugula.

When the chickpeas were perfect I spooned them on to paper toweling to drain. I’ve never deglazed a pan in my life and since I was letting myself down on the aquafaba challenge I figured there’s not time like the present.

IMG_3565Can you even deglaze a pan with lemon juice? Apparently, yes. My efforts produced a concentrated and brightly flavored sauce that I decided to use as a warm dressing. I mixed it with a bit of olive oil and a smudge of mustard.

The end result? A surprisingly refreshing salad that took care of the ragtag ends of leftovers in the produce drawer of the fridge.