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Make This: Chickpea and Rice Salad with Speck and Preserved Lemon

The other day at Trader Joe's, I spotted a bright yellow jar of preserved Tunisian lemon slices. I turned the jar over in my hands, trying to imagine what preserved Tunisian lemon might taste like and how you might use it. Salads? Stews? Cocktails? Regardless, I knew it had to come home with me. When I showed the jar to Alex, he gave me the why-the-hell-would-you-buy-that-when-you-could-easily-make-it-yourself face. But I was undeterred.

I opened the jar and pulled a slimy slice from the salty brine. Biting tentatively into the limp rind, I was surprised to find that it tasted more salty than sour, with a subtle citrus essence. Determined to make the most of my impulse buy, I've been trying to sneak preserved lemon into various dishes. Enter this salad. It's a variation on one we make all the time in the summer months. Leftover rice, a can of beans, veggies and protein of some sort (in this case, I used my husband's homemade speck), bathed in fresh herbs and a light lemon, anchovy and olive oil dressing.

Heres the recipe for this particular salad, but I recommend playing around with whatever ingredients you have around. A variety of textures is key:

Chickpea Salad with Anchovies, Speck and Preserved Lemon:

-1 cup white rice

-1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

-2 cups lightly steamed broccoli (it should still be slighty crisp)

-1/2 of a large avocado, cubed

-1/2 cup diced speck or prosciutto

-4 anchovy fillets, minced

-3 preserved lemon wheels

-1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

-4 or 5 fresh chives, chopped

-Small handful of fresh tarragon, chopped

-3 tablespoons olive oil

-2 tablespoons lemon juice

-Salt to taste

Mix anchovies, herbs, preserved lemon, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a bowl until you form a chunky dressing. Toss in garbanzos, rice, broccoli and speck to coat. Gently fold in avocado cubes and almonds. Great for lunch or a light dinner.

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