It’s salad season! And best of all, we can go to the outdoor markets for our fresh produce.
During the summer, I love making a big salad every day with fresh local veggies.
In my opinion, the best salads contain a wide variety of textures and colors along with fresh greens.
I like something crunchy—like radishes or red pepper, something sweet—like apples or dried fruit, something soft—like avocado and little bits of intense flavor (flavor bombs) thrown in—like olives. You can also add a small amount of a leftover cooked grain like brown rice or quinoa and a handful of nuts.
Lately, I have been roasting chickpeas and throwing a few handfuls in my salad for flavor bombs. I find they are a nice alternative to croutons. Except, chickpeas are a good source of protein and they are gluten-free.
When I have the time, I cook my own chickpeas instead of buying cans. It’s a little more work, but it’s mostly hands-off work, much like baking bread. However, if you are in a pinch for time, just use two cans of chickpeas and begin at step 3.
- 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
- generous pinch baking soda
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 lemon (juiced)
- salt & pepper to taste
1) If you are going to make your chickpeas, place them in a bowl and cover with water. I soak mine overnight or you can soak them when you are at work. Shoot for 6 hours or more
2) After soaking, drain the soaking water from the chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with fresh water. I also add a generous pinch of baking soda. Supposedly, this helps digestion so you will be less gassy. I’m not sure if it really is true, but I’ll try just about anything to avoid being farty. Turn the heat up until the chickpeas just boil, then cook on low. It varies how long they will need to cook. The fresher the chickpeas, the less time. Begin checking after an hour. The chickpeas are done when they are soft. Let them cool in the water.
3) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain the chickpeas in a strainer. If using canned chickpeas, rinse. Then, place them on a towel and dry the chickpeas. (Dry them really well!)
4) Place parchment paper in a rimmed baking sheet. Place chickpeas on parchment paper in one layer. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes. They should begin to brown.
5) Place the spices and olive oil in the saucepan and cook over a low heat just to release the flavors of the spices. (1 or 2 minutes.)
6) Add the roasted chickpeas to the oil and spices in the saucepan. Stir well to coat them evenly. Squeeze lemon juice on the chickpeas and stir again. Check to see if they need more salt or pepper.
You can also improvise with the spice mixture by substituting curry powder for the chili powder. Or maybe try one of your favorite spice mixes. The chickpeas are a blank canvas for your favorite flavor, just be sure to keep the oil to 2 tablespoons.
In addition to salads, you can eat the chickpeas alone as a snack. The roasted chickpeas keep well for a few days in a covered container.
Truth be told, mine never seem to last very long.
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Courtesy of the Author.