courgette, chickpea and feta salad

as usual, september in london is proving to be so much warmer and sunnier than august. this weekend i’ve spent some very peaceful time out in the garden, removing most of the leaves from my tomato plants in the hope that this will speed up the ripening of the many green tomatoes that remain, as well as having a leisurely outdoor lunch of crab and cherry tomato linguine with one of my favourite friends. david and i also spent a lovely sunday wandering through regent’s park, along the canal and up to marine ices for ice creams.

this courgette and chickpea salad is definitely something for these final sunny days, with its courgette ribbons and basil crème fraiche dressing. it’s from my newest cookery book, salads by peter gordon of providores. there’s a good range of cold weather salads that i’m looking forward to trying but in the meantime, this is perfect for these later summer days.

peter gordon’s courgette*, chickpea and feta salad with basil crème fraiche dressing

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 large red onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 red chilli, thinly sliced into rings

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

600g cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed if from a tin

handful of picked flat leaf parsley

250g feta, cut into small cubes

4 medium courgettes*, topped and tailed


2 handfuls of watercress

for the dressing:

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

½ a teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons crème fraiche

heat all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide pan and cook the onions to wilt them, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the garlic, chilli and thyme, and cook until the onions are caramelised. add the lemon juice and zest, and the chickpeas, and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom. take off the heat and tip into a bowl. when it has cooled a little, mix in the parsley and feta and put to one side.

to make the dressing, place the basil and sugar in a mortar and grind to a paste with a pestle then mix in the crème fraiche and 1 tablespoon of water and lightly season. alternatively, chiffonade (shred) the basil and mix with the crème fraiche, water and seasoning.

peel the courgette into ribbons with a potato peeler. peel one side until you get to the seeds then peel the other side. lastly peel the sides off, you want every piece to have some of the skin on it. bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the courgettes, stir, count to 20, drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

to serve, arrange the courgette ribbons around the outside of a plates then place the watercress inside. divide the chickpea salad on top of the watercress and serve with the basil dressing.

* the recipe calls for yellow courgettes, as you can see i used green.