Copyright and Chickpeas

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

The other day I posted a roasted ratatouille recipe I adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini. This prompted Tim to ask: “isn’t that copyright infringement”?

Huh. Call me a crap creative, but that thought had not occurred to me. “Naaaah,” I said. I altered the ingredients and directions slightly, plus I gave credit to C&Z. So what’s the problem?

I brushed it off until today when I wanted to post the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad recipe from the New York Times but couldn’t help but feel haunted by the question…

“Am I stealing this recipe?”

The short answer is “no”. Here’s what U.S. copyright law says about recipes:

Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.

So a recipe is not an invention unless it accompanies a fair amount of “literary” prose around it. While that may be true, there’s still the matter of etiquette. The International Association of Culinary Professionals focusses on giving credit where credit is due.

The association advises using the words “adapted from,” “based on” or “inspired by,” depending on how much a recipe has been revised. (“Adapted from” is the phrasing favored by The Washington Post and many other newspaper food sections, which, along with culinary instructors, enjoy “fair use” of someone’s creation for the purpose of teaching, news reporting, scholarship or research.) The only time a recipe should be printed without attribution, the association contends, is when it has been changed so substantially that it no longer resembles its source. [Can a Recipe be Stolen?, The Washington Post]

Before I knew any of this, I was already giving credit to my recipe sources. It just feels like the right thing to do. Blogging is sharing, isn’t it? Were someone to post a recipe that I published, I don’t think I’d mind (though I might be a bit cheesed off if they didn’t credit me!). How do you feel about sharing recipes?

Yeah but what about those chickpeas?

Right. So I made the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad recently posted on the New York Times. It’s good. Real good. From the cumin-spiced dressing to the sweet tomatoes to the crunchy red pepper and savory olives. I like to add cucumber because I simply love the combination of chickpeas, cucumber and tomato. I skipped the yogurt from the original recipe which didn’t take away from its goodness. The feta is essential, however. When the salad is tossed, most of the feta dissolves into the dressing, making it super creamy and delicious.

The salad gets better after a day or two of marinating. And for you working-world folks, this salad is great for packed lunches!

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad


Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Adapted from The New York Times.

Serves 4

– 2 (15-ounce) cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
– 1/4 cucumber, cubed
– 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
– 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
– 2 medium tomatoes, diced
– 4 green onions, sliced
– 6 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
– 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled

To make the dressing:
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
– 1 small garlic clove, minced
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and crushed or coarsely ground
– Salt and freshly ground pepper
– 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Toss together the salad ingredients. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, cumin seeds, salt, pepper, olive oil. Toss with the chickpeas.

Per serving: 344 Calories; 13g Protein; 16g fat; 41g Carbohydrate

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