One trick to moving is getting rid of everything you don’t absolutely need. Due to my beloved thesis and summer vacation, this worked better in some areas than others. Where did it work, you ask? In the kitchen.

And so it was that we arrived, somewhat after midnight and somewhat jet-lagged (in my case) in our new house with minimal foodstuffs. As I spent the entire next day sleeping and unpacking, dinner found us in dire straits, but it was pancakes to the rescue! Day 2 was equally full of sleeping and unpacking (the proportions of which were more similar to day 1 than I like to admit), and desire to deal with dinner was slim. (Desire for dinner continued unabated.) The resultant mess is now one of my favourite quick dishes. In fact, since I’m staying away from my office due to a bad cold, I whipped some up for lunch today.

While I was at it, I whipped some up for lunch tomorrow, too. It keeps well.

Moving Day Salad

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 red pepper coarsely chopped
15 black olives, pitted and quartered
2 oz mature chedder in 1/4″ cubes

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh ground pepper
a light dash of mild chili powder
dash of cinnamon (optional)

1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas; put in a large mixing bowl and pour the balsamic vinegar and olive oil over them. This gives the chickpeas a chance to soak up flavour while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Chop and add other ingredients; mix. The spices are all to taste (as are all of the other quantities, really. This isn’t baking). Go easy on the cumin at first; you can always add more. Black pepper and basil, on the other hand, are harder to overdo. Since this salad is based on what I usually have to hand, the spices are all dried.

3. If desired, microwave for 30-90 seconds: enough to warm the chickpeas, but not quite enough to melt the cheese. I usually nuke the salad the first day only. By the second the ingredients have absorbed enough dressing to be better cold.

That’s it! This is now one of my go-to lunches, since unlike with most salads, most of the ingredients will happily hang out in the cupboard until needed. Since this recipe doesn’t involve the kinds of chemical reactions inherent in baking, you can safely replace pretty any ingredient you want. It’s versatile that way.

Salads without lettuce are a new favorite of mine; I also highly recommend the Greek Quinoa Salad by two peas & their pod, using chickpeas or white beans in place of the quinoa, and usually spring onions instead of red. My first substitution is less to avoid grain, as I am not a paleo sort of person, and more because I convince myself that salads where you don’t have to cook anything are faster. The 20 minutes required to make quinoa are negligible, but opening a can has a higher speed appeal. I look forward to trying the same ingredients with tortellini, though! I have a weakness for tortellini and ravioli. I’m slowly reading through the two peas & their pod archives, although they’re so full of delicious things that they’re a little dangerous.

Enjoy your alternative salads! If you come up with any particularly tasty substitutions, let me know in the comments so I can munch along.

Scott Monument, Edinburgh

Scott Monument, Edinburgh