“It is not given to all men to season well.” This line appears on the title page of John Evelyn’s Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets, which he published in 1699. John Evelyn was a man of many interests and accomplishments, and a highly regarded public figure in Britain in the 17th-century. His Acetaria is one of the more obscure byways he explored in the course of his many and wide-ranging literary pursuits. It is exactly what the title suggests: a book on how to make a good salad. It is also an argument for vegetarianism. Whether one is in sympathy with his views on plant-eating or not, they make interesting reading. John Evelyn takes his herbs and vegetables personally and discourses on them courteously. On the subject of salad, he is both a crank and a gentleman.
Chickpea Salad Provençale does not include any of the leafy greens described in the Acetaria–which makes it a good picnic salad, for it cannot wilt. About the robust amount of garlic it contains, however, Acetaria does have something to say: “We absolutely forbid it entrance into our Salleting, by reason of its intolerable Rankness, and which made it so detested of old; that the eating of it was (as we read) part of the Punishment for such as had committed the horrid’st Crimes. To be sure, ’tis not for Ladies Palats, nor those who court them, farther than to permit a light touch on the Dish.”
The flavours of roasted garlic and herbs in this Chickpea Salad Provençale develop very satisfactorily when the salad is made a day in advance. Ladies’ palates permitting, and all alike partaking of this good salad….courting would still be alright.
Chickpea Salad Provençale (for about 2 cups)
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF
- a 16-ounce can of Chickpeas, drained: can sizes vary and a little more or less than this amount makes no difference
- 1 whole head of Garlic, roasted: Ingredients and Directions for Roasting are given below
- 1 teaspoon of Salt
- 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh Rosemary, coarsely chopped or 1 teaspoon of dried Rosemary
- 1/4 cup of Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 cup of Red Bell Pepper, cut into small cubes
- 1 small Purple Shallot, chopped: purple is prettier but others are fine, too
- 1/4 cup of Parsley, of any kind, chopped
- 1 medium Tomato, cup into small cubes
- 1 Tablespoon of Capers, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon of Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- optional: 1/4 cup of dry-cured Black Olives, seeded and chopped–or not
- the whole head of Garlic: do not peel it or separate it into cloves
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
- freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
- a piece of Aluminum Foil for roasting the garlic
- a Mortar and Pestle for smashing the garlic into a paste or a Cutting Board and a Knife with a broad, flat blade to do the job
- two Bowls: one for mixing the salad and one for mixing the vinaigrette
- a small Whisk or a Fork
- a couple of small Mason Jars are useful for carrying the salad on a picnic
2. Brush the head of garlic well with a Tablespoon of olive oil and grind some black pepper and salt over it. Replace the cut top on the garlic head. Wrap the whole, unpeeled head in aluminum foil and roast it for about 30 – 40 minutes, or until it is tender.
3. Unwrap and cool the roasted head of garlic and press the roasted cloves out of their paper skins. They will come out easily. Smash them into a paste with the teaspoon of salt, either using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a broad-bladed knife on a cutting board. Put the paste in a small bowl.
3. Place the chickpeas, rosemary, red bell pepper, shallot, parsley, tomato cubes, capers, and olives (if included) in a bowl.
4. Whisk together the garlic paste and red wine vinegar. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil.
3. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and mix everything together well. If the salad is being used on the same day that it is made, cover it and let it marinate at room temperature until it’s served. Otherwise, marinate it overnight in the refrigerator. Mason jars are useful for packing the salad to take on a picnic.
A Note: Chickpea Salad Provençale is on the Occasional Menu: Into the Picnic Basket.
And a Second Note: A copy of John Evelyn’s Acetaria may had for free online here at Gutenberg.org. Recipes in Acetaria are included in an Appendix that begins on page 126 of the text.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011