South American Inspired Venison Salad with Chimichurri and Roasted Chickpeas

Update! Ladies and Gentlemen, this little recipe won a recipe contest from Chef’s Planet! 

I had been thinking about a dear friend who was visiting Argentina this last week while at the same time trying to decide what to do with the last pound of venison (I mean it: the last one!) in the freezer when I decided to try a pretty different take on a salad. I made a chimichurri, which is a traditional South American marinade/sauce that is usually used to grill meat, and adjusted the flavors and thickened it up a bit to use as a salad dressing. Instead of cold raw vegetables, I wanted this to be a hearty, single-dish dinner, so I used flavors I associate with South American cooking (cumin, potatoes, fresh herbs, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the usual) to use with roasted vegetables. The result was a great fall dinner bowl and I may have my new standby home-made dressing, too, with this chimi-sauce. The recipe that follows is in chronological order, so hopefully your timing will be as seamless as mine and you’ll have an interesting dinner on the table in an hour!

For the dry-roasted chickpeas you will need:

  • 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (and some zest, if you feel so inclined)
  • Appx. 1/2 tsp. each paprika, cumin, sea salt, and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Combine all ingredients in an oven-proof dish (or rimmed cookie sheet) that is large enough so that the chickpeas can be in a single layer. This helps them to get that fantastic, crunchy flavor.
  • Bake for approximately 40 minutes and let cool.  

For the oven-roasted potatoes, you will need:

  • 2 pounds mini potatoes, assorted varieties (I found some great ones called “ruby gold peewees” and “dutch yellow peewees”)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste


  • Microwave the washed (unpeeled) potatoes for approximately four minutes, to steam and soften slightly. I think the texture is better when they’re more tender before they are baked.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large oven-proof dish, stirring a bit to combine.
  • Place in your toasty 375 heated-oven (with the chickpeas is just fine) and bake for 30 minutes.

While your oven-roasted vegetables are cooking, it’s time to make the chimichurri dressing. You will add all of the following to your food processor (or blender, if you’re like me and are sadly living with a hole in your heart where a Cuisinart should be) and blend/process until its the perfect sauce consistency:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Now your kitchen is getting busy. I had thawed the last couple of pounds of venison from the freezer, because I just knew BF would get lucky this weekend and get us another deer. I think I jinxed him. Note: he did come home with a couple of pounds of duck, though, so stay tuned for that gamey goodness. I think that this dish would be fantastic with a chorizo or actually most other ground meats (lamb, maybe?). It’s the seasonings and the combination of flavors that makes this one so great. For the venison as I made it, you will need:

  • 2 pounds ground venison, thawed
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, paprika, dried oregano, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper
  • 1 15 ounce can white corn, drained


  • On medium heat, add all of the ingredients (except the white corn) to a large skillet.
  • Break up all the larger chunks of venison. If you happen to attract any other undesirable large chunks (ahem, Ketch), pay no attention to their ability to sit and stare intensely for like ten minutes, straight. Seriously:

  • Once the venison is cooked through, drain off any excess oil. Venison is a very lean meat, so the oil was necessary, but I wouldn’t use nearly that much (if any) oil for a fattier meat. I drained off what looked like about the same amount of oil I used in the first place!
  • On low heat, stir in the can of corn, and cook for at least five more minutes to let the flavors combine.

To serve, add about 1 cup of spinach and mixed greens to your dinner plates before arranging with the venison, potato, and chickpeas. I also added some of the chimichurri to the bottom of the plate before I added the greens and veggies, because I’m aware that it’s pretty much the best part of the meal! This is the kind of dinner that I love to cook – it really doesn’t take much time, not more than an hour, total, but the reward for just an hour of work is tangible, unique, and, dare I say, photogenic.

share post to:

Comments 1

  1. {*The Internet Cooking Princess}

    YUM and YUM. Great recipe!

    28 November, 2012

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *