It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. In this case at least, necessity was the mother of these gin-soaked raisins. The original recipe was a pasta recipe that called for various things including farfalle, Swiss chard, and raisins soaked in vermouth. Somehow, the vermouth had disappeared, but the beautiful blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire was beckoning….
So I soaked my raisins in Bombay Sapphire gin.
And then it turned out I didn’t have any chard, or farfalle, or Chevre either. So I substituted things. Cilantro, cucumber, goat milk feta. And instead of making a pasta dish, I made a salad.
In the end, the only thing that was true to the original recipe were the raisins, the chickpeas, red onion, and olives.
Other than that… this cold salad is based on a very delicious hot pasta dish that contains vermouth soaked raisins. If you want the original recipe for Farfalle with Chickpeas, Chard, and Raisins – you can find in A Taste of Wintergreen.
In the meantime, I recommend this salad. And I really do suggest soaking your raisins in gin. SO delicious. And gin is supposed to be good for arthritis. I’m not making this up, it’s an old-fashioned home remedy. Juniper which flavours gin is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Soak more raisins than you’ll need because I guarantee you’ll end up eating some along the way. And they’ll be the first things you pick out of the salad.
Add what you like here – green olives, avocado, chevre, green onions, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. For a great dairy-free, vegan version, substitute chopped avocado for the feta. The basics are given below. Start ahead of time, soaking your raisins in gin.
chickpea and gin-soaked raisin salad
- 1/3 cup golden yellow raisins (or whatever kind you have)
- 1/4 cup gin
- 1- 19oz (540ml) can chickpeas, drained, and well-rinsed
- 1/2 English cucumber, washed and diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, washed and dried (and chopped if you like)
- 1/4 cup of pitted olives
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat milk feta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp maple syrup, honey, or sugar
- 1 tsp lime juice
- pinch of hot red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl mix the raisins and gin and let stand. After a few minutes, sample. Try to leave the rest alone while you make the salad.
Toss together the chickpeas, diced onion, cucumber, red onion, and olives. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, hot pepper flakes, and lime juice. Dress the salad.
Taste the gin-soaked raisins again. Add remaining raisins to salad.
Scatter the crumbled feta on top. Finish with freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate – will keep a couple of days.