For the first two night of our Portuguese Honeymoon we stayed in Caldas de Monchique, a mountain spa town, nestled into a lush green subtropical jungle – a perfect get-away for a newly wed couple. It’s a little rough round the edges, but it is full of charm and amazing flora and fauna.
We took the time there, to just decompress after a very busy 3 months of wedding arrangements. We loungeing by the pool, had massages and romantic dinners in the 16th century courtyard. We also sampled a delicious Cod & Chickpea Salad in their tapas bar, which is a traditional Portuguese summer dish, served with crusty bread and lots of wine!
After our stay in the mountains, we travelled to the south coast of Portugal where my criteria for accommodation included a kitchen. I can’t not cook on holiday..!
And the first thing I whipped up was a vegetarian/vegan version of that delightful Chickpea Salad we sampled in Monchique.
Everywhere you go in Portugal you’ll see orange sellers, and often they will also be selling honey and oregano, one of my favourite herbs! And so this salad has plenty of that aromatic herb mixed in.
With fresh salad leaves, crispy bell peppers and savoury chickpeas, it is so delicious, and very easy to put together.
For me salads, fruit and hot house style veg, always always taste better when eaten in the sunshine, but due to the heartiness of the chickpea, I could see this dish being served at anytime of the year, really. But the secret to this salads yumminess, is taking the time to finely dice the vegetables, so you get a bite of all the ingredients in every mouthful. The second secret is to source glass jars of chickpeas, instead of tins, as they are plumber and softer. Biona sell a great organic chickpea in a jar. And if you, like me, grow your own lettuce, then make sure you give this recipe a try.
Portuguese Chickpea Salad
1 glass jar of chickpeas, drained
(or 1 x 410g tin of chickpeas, drained
or 200g dry chickpeas, cooked and drained)
1 red onion, finely diced
1 orange sweet pepper, very finely diced
1 red sweet pepper, very finely diced
half a head of lettuce, torn into pieces
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 tbsp organic single source extra virgin olive oil
a squirt of lemon juice
1 tbsp oregano
plenty salt and pepper to taste
Drain the chickpeas, and pop them into a large mixing bowl.
Add the chopped sweet peppers, onion, garlic, oil, oregano and mix in thoroughly to coat in the oil.
Squeeze half a lemon over and season generously with salt and pepper, then add the lettuce leaves, and mix well.
Serve with bread and butter in the sun.