Fennel salad with grapefruit and fried chickpeas

March 30, 2011

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Serves 6

My housemate Jason is from Phoenix, where a particularly prolific grapefruit tree grows in his yard. His mother sent us several plump, pungent fruits, which I decided to pair with thin slices of fresh fennel. The chickpeas are tossed with pimenton de la vera, a Spanish smoked paprika (available at Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods, 1255 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-576-2090). Of the three classifications, the “dulce’’ variety is best for this recipe. Pimenton de la vera literally makes everything it touches infinitely better. Ever since they discovered it, my housemates sprinkle it on everything. Use a good-quality regular paprika, if you like.

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon pimenton de la vera or other smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 bulbs fresh fennel, very thinly sliced (preferably with a mandoline), a few tops chopped for garnish
1 medium or large fresh grapefruit, peeled and sectioned, seeds removed

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. They should be relatively crispy. Transfer to a bowl and toss with pimenton or smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

2. In a large salad bowl, combine the fennel and grapefruit. Add the chickpeas and toss again. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds.

Luke Pyenson