Leon’s Full Service,
131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.,
Q: I have been to Leon’s Full Service in downtown Decatur several times to enjoy their great food and to figure out the exact recipe for their amazing warm chickpea, dried cherry and cubed provolone salad. It’s a fantastic side dish and, while it is simple, there is something about it that I cannot pinpoint. It is served warm and has a vinaigrette that ties it all together. No matter how many times I order it, I can’t put my finger on what makes it such an outstanding and unusual salad. I would love to have the recipe. Thank you for your help. — Odette Schuler, Decatur
A: Chef Eric Ottensmeyer was generous enough to share this recipe, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. “It was the first official dish on the menu. I actually cooked it for one of my bosses the first time we met, and he loved it,” Ottensmeyer said.
This salad, with its intriguing combination of flavors, could serve as a side dish, but would also make a vegetarian/vegan entree since chickpeas are so high in protein. The sweetness of the dried cherries and the bright herbal punch from the basil are surprises and that’s what makes learning from Atlanta’s chefs such fun.
Is there a recipe from a metro Atlanta restaurant you’d like to make at home? Tell us and we’ll try to get it. We’ll also test it and adapt it for the home kitchen. Because of volume, we can’t answer all inquiries. Send your request, address and phone number to email@example.com and put “From the menu of” and the name of the restaurant in the subject line.
Leon’s Full Service Warm Chickpea Salad
Hands on: 10 minutes Total time: 10 minutes Serves: 6
You can cook dried chickpeas for this recipe, but if you prefer to use canned, drain and rinse them before adding them to the salad. Be sure your chickpeas are dry before adding them to the hot oil or you risk splattering and burns.
1/4 cup vegetable/olive oil blend
4 cups cooked chickpeas, dried
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 cup aged provolone, rind removed and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Kosher salt and black pepper
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high until just smoking. Carefully add chickpeas and sauté until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in cherries and sauté until just warm, about 1 minute. Add vinegar and continue cooking until vinegar is reduced and pan is almost dry. Remove from heat and add provolone cubes. When cheese is nearly melted, toss in basil. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 378 calories (percent of calories from fat, 42), 16 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 18 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 202 milligrams sodium.