A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring
In contrast with the things that sing
Not Birds entirely — but Minds —
Minute Effulgencies and Winds —
When what they sung for is undone
Who cares about a Blue Bird’s Tune —
-Emily Dickinson

Lately, I’ve been all about kumquats. It’s my love of sour things; I just can’t get enough. Plus, the fact that you don’t have to peel them…..it’s like popping candy in your mouth. And I haven’t even mentioned the health benefits. Fiber, vitamin C!

Yes, I can’t help but be a tad…eccentric. In my world, braised fennel is comparable to french fries; kumquats are my new favorite candy. I clearly measure my maturity by the new and healthy ways I find to make good on my childhood love affair with junk food. At least with kumquats I won’t burn my tongue off like I used to do with these Warheads.

This little love affair wouldn’t have started had I not gone to a friend’s for a lovely dinner a few weeks ago. Not only did she make a fantastic Chana Masala, but a very simple salad–with greens, walnuts, parmesan cheese and kumquats. I loved the idea of substituting kumquats for tomatoes and not just because tomatoes–even the bland hothouse variety with which we must now make do– have been ridiculously overpriced. It simply added a whole new flavor to the salad; it was vibrant and tasty. Salad was suddently interesting again.

And then I got my most recent copy of Bon Appetit in the mail and one recipe that immediately jumped out at me was Molly from Orangette‘s “Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs.” But as good as it sounded and looked, I was envisioning something different: Chickpeas, arugula, kumquats, feta cheese and pine nuts. A light peppering and one clove of garlic. Lemon juice sprinkled over the whole thing and topped with a simple dressing of olive oil and White Balsamic Vinegar.

Should we not, after all, be paying tribute to spring? Haven’t we been waiting ages for this?

Chickpea Salad with Kumquats, Feta and Pine Nuts
Yields 2 servings

Inspired by Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs

2-3 handfuls of Arugula
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small block of feta cheese, crumbled
a sprinkling of pine nuts
1 garlic clove, pressed
5-6 kumquats, rinsed and sliced
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

-Place the arugula in a bowl.
-Add the drained chickpeas, pressed garlic, pine nuts, kumquats and crumbled feta.
-Pepper according to taste.
-Squeeze the 1/2 lemon over the prepared salad.
-Add a fine drizzle of olive oil and 3-4 teaspoons of White Balsamic Vinegar (like with most things, I like my salad dressing more light and tart than weighed down by the heaviness of olive oil. This, however, is entirely a matter of taste)
-Toss and enjoy!

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