Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Soccer Game Picnic


The chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea, discuss….

As many of you know, Joe is a rowing coach. Which means he is absent for many weekends in both the fall and spring. In order to combat my loneliness this past weekend, I invited myself along to a friend’s children’s soccer games. There were two games to watch with an hour break between the two, so a picnic lunch was in order.

I had seen once in Gourmet the idea to pack various kinds of salads into mason jars for picnics, and thought I might try out that method. And a hot day in the sun, sitting on soccer field “grass” (there’s not much grass left after rounds of 20+ soccer games every Saturday), calls for refreshing food.

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the salad while we were eating it. I need to become more comfortable and perhaps pushy when it comes to taking pictures of people eating food. You probably would have enjoyed seeing a seven-year-old delighting in the chunks of avocado she found in her mason jar. Maybe next time.
I think people have a misconception about eating tuna fish on hot days. Understandably you would not want to consume warm, left out to rot mayonnaise, but tuna fish itself is just fine packed away in a cooler. I also think that beans and tuna go well together, with any kind of ingredients you may have in the refrigerator and pantry. A salad like that can leave you full and refreshed without the need for a nap - although you may want a nap because who doesn’t like napping in the sun - but you won’t need a food-induced nap.

The funny thing is, I never really had beans as a child. Well, except for the dried out frozen lima beans found in a bag of mixed vegetables – which I actually used to love. I’m not sure why I thought beans would be a good idea, but I do.
In my ‘at work lunchtime leftovers’ pictures there is also a quinoa, cucumber, tomato etc salad that we had for dinner that evening. I can foresee many more of these salads to come as the weather warms up, especially if I keep inviting myself to soccer games and people’s houses. What could be better than good food, good company and the chance to root for the Unicorns and Blue Killer Dolphins on a warm Saturday?

Tuna and Chickpea Salad*

1 8 oz. can of oil packed tuna fish, not drained
1 15 oz can of organic chickpeas (look for low sodium varieties, so the chickpeas will have a more intense flavor), drained
2 stalks of celery, finely minced
1 carrot, finely minced
3 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
1 small avocado, chopped
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for consistency

Combine and toss all ingredients together. Add olive oil, if salad looks a bit dry. Spoon into serving containers, and refrigerator or keep in cooler until ready to eat.

*The beauty of this salad is that any and all of the above ingredients are interchangeable. If you don’t have cilantro, use parsley or basil. Lime juice, orange juice or vinegar can give the added note of sour. The basic formula in my mind for this is tuna + beans (white beans, or chickpeas) + vegetables + herb + tang = delicious. So feel free to improvise!

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