In psychology, there’s a mental state known as flow. You’ve probably experienced it before. Flow occurs when you’re completely immersed in the moment, your mind and body are engaged on the same task, and you lose all sense of time. As a yogi, you’d think this would be a familiar state for me, but that’s not always the case. In yoga, I’m often so focused on my alignment and movements–making minor adjustments as I transition from one pose to the next–that it’s difficult to let myself go completely. But recently, I’ve been able to find my flow with increasing regularity while cooking in the kitchen. This dish is a perfect example.
This weekend Robert and I joined friends for picnics at Ravinia (an outdoor concert venue just outside of Chicago), both Friday and Saturday night. I decided to make one big picnic to last throughout the weekend. Not to get all Martha Stewart on you here (trust me, I’m the furthest thing from Ms. Stewart), but I like to choose a theme for my picnics to help me narrow down my food choices and ensure they’ll go together. (Otherwise who knows what will happen!) While talking to my mom last week, she reminded me that last year I made a French-themed picnic and then Robert and I went to France earlier this year. “So choose where you want to go next,” she joked. Done: The Mediterranean. Greece, Spain, Italy–I’m not picky. From there, the pieces fell into place and I spent one night late last week simultaneously putting together several items for the picnic including this chickpea salad (more recipes to come this week).
The thing is, I don’t remember making it. (And no, I wasn’t drinking : ) ) I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s how I know I was in the flow. Juggling different recipes at the same time and allowing myself to focus fully on what I was doing meant the experience imprinted in my mind more as a feeling of fluidity than a distinct memory. The cool thing about flow is the more skilled you become at performing a certain task (such as playing an instrument or running) the easier it becomes to find your flow. I still have so much to learn when it comes to cooking, but it’s really neat to notice how in just two years I’ve gone from being clunky and awkward in the kitchen to perhaps a little graceful at times. Sure, there are still plenty of spilled things, the occasional (small) fire, and full-out flops. But when the stars align and I put all of my attention on what I’m doing, the success of the experience can be even more fulfilling than the final product. (Although this recipe did not disappoint.)
Although I may not remember chopping the mint or slicing the scallions, I definitely remember eating this light, yet satisfying salad at our picnics. I’d also suggest making it as a great summertime lunch–especially with the fresh parsley, mint and basil–or served alongside some lemony grilled fish.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
8-10 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly
1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
1 hothouse or Persian cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 can (12 to 16 oz) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Juice of 4 lemons
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Combine the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large bowl and toss.
Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with feta. Serve with pita chips.