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Chickpeas - humble but delicious!

Chickpeas, like white haricot (navy) beans, are grown in Provence, dried for the store cupboard and frequently used for wine harvest meals.

This salad was often served as part of a mixed hors d'oeuvre, staple of bistro menus in the past. An ingredient which is humble and cheap, full of goodness - I love them! They are great alongside ripe tomatoes, some black olives or tapenade.

Allow 60 g (2 oz) chickpeas per person. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Drain and put into a pan covered with fresh water. Bring to the boil. Skim off the scum if you are going to continue to cook them in this water. Otherwise, remove from the heat, leave to cool in the water, drain, rinse under cold water, then cook again in fresh water, salted, and with a bundle of herbs, such as bay, thyme and marjoram, added if liked. Some people think chickpeas indigestible and think that it helps to add a pinch of bicarbonate ofsoda to the first water in which they are boiled.

The chickpeas may need up two hours slow simmering - test to see if they are soft - it is hard to be exact. Drain.

While warm, dress with olive oil, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper, a handful of parsley finely chopped, and lemon juice to taste. Chopped mild onion is often added and in my opinion is essential.

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