Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Farro and Hazlenuts

Ok, so I’m going to vent about a few things today. The first venting session is totally not relevant to today’s post or anything going on in my life right now – and you may laugh at me after you find how much this particular instance ticked me off….

Tonight’s RHOOC… There’s nothing that irks me out more than grown adults who make faces and are completely rude at a restaurant. For those of you that didn’t watch, the ladies all went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (umm that’s my town Vicki) and Heather very graciously made reservations at a fabulous upscale restaurant with killer food. It was a little too fancy for the other girls and instead of smiling and politely eating their food, they proceeded to complain and make faces the entire meal – it was similar behavior to a five-year old child that makes silly faces at his/her broccoli or spinach and then ends up refusing to eat it at all. It made me cringe just watching it, to say the least.

I think it especially got to me since I had a similar experience happen to me on a girls trip. Everyone knows that I’m really into food and love researching restaurants and menus in my spare time, so I was the designated person to pick out a fairly upscale place for our “nice night out.” Well, of course I obliged and found a fabulous Italian restaurant for us to go to. We had a large group and it was a smallish restaurant so I was back and forth for days trying to make sure we all got to sit together and that we didn’t have to order from a prix fixe menu (which was required for groups over 10). Some of the girls had been nonchalantly mentioning that they thought it was “pretty gourmet” and “kind of expensive” the day of our dinner, which should have been a red flag to me, but not one person said, “You know, maybe we should go somewhere else.” Not one person.

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Farro and Hazlenuts

So it’s about an hour before our dinner and I overhear about half of the other girls making plans to go to some sushi place instead of going to the dinner I had spent time and effort planning. I was livid… I mean, how rude. They all knew for at least a couple weeks where we were going and had ample time to try and go somewhere else, but an hour before?? The most surprising thing is that they are some of the sweetest girls I know, and I love them all to death. Of course I got over it in about five seconds, but it just surprises me how discourteous even the nicest of people can be sometimes…

So what I’m saying is that I felt for my girl Heather, it kind of hurts your feelings when people in your group are rude about something you’ve planned that you happen to be excited about.

Five other girls and I did end up going as planned, and it ended up being one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in the last couple of years with some of my favorite company to boot. So if you ever get the opportunity to dine at Scarpetta, take it, and you must order the creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms. To. Die. For.

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Farro and Hazlenuts

Ok, now on to rant number two that does have relevancy to today’s dish. Have you noticed that my pictures are a little off lately? If you haven’t, bless you, if you have, I’m sorry.

Before spring hit, I had perfect light in my living room to photograph pictures. We have a huge window that doesn’t get direct sunlight, but is extremely bright, resulting in perfectly exposed food photographs. Well, since we live in an old neighborhood, we have giant mature trees in our front yard, so with spring came the leaves, and out went my perfect light. I’m currently trying to find the spot in my house that has the best light to photograph, but haven’t found it quite yet. It’s beyond frustrating. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I’ll have the light perfected again at some unknown spot in my house; otherwise…we are going to have questionable pictures until fall – and I might have a weekly rant session about it…

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Farro and Hazlenuts
Well, now that I’ve complained for an eternity, we can talk about cucumber salad. . That is, if I didn’t lose you about 200 words ago…

I had a dish similar to this one at one of my favorite tapas restaurants a few weeks back and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Perfect for summer, this gem is refreshing from the addition of cucumber, has great texture from a sprinkling of hazelnuts, and is full of protein from garbanzo beans and nutty faro. Everything is tossed in a cumin and lemon vinaigrette and sprinkled with a hefty amount of chopped cilantro. The flavor is even better if you make the whole thing up the day before, just don’t add the hazelnuts until right before serving. Pair with a juicy grilled chicken breast or steak; have it for a light, healthy lunch on its own; or you could even toss it with some chopped shrimp for something a little heartier.

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Farro and Hazlenuts

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas, Farro and Hazlenuts
Serves: 4-6 as a side
  • 2 cups chopped cucumber
  • ¾ cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup, chopped hazelnuts
  • ½ cup cooked farro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  1. In a small sauté pan, toast hazelnuts over a low heat until they become fragrant. Set aside. Toss cucumber, garbanzo beans, farro, and hazelnuts in a medium bowl. Make dressing: Whisk lemon, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Toss vinaigrette with cucumber mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

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