Can I Make It Up to You With a Simple, Tasty Chickpea Salad Recipe?

Where have I been?

I’m not sure.

First, I went to a brutal yoga workshop . . . I know ‘brutal’ and ‘yoga’ aren’t supposed to go together, but it was. Good, but brutal with a long recovery.

Then, the end of school. If you have ever taught school at any level, you know what this means. Or if you have ever attended school, you know what this means.

Then, the gutter and window cleaning project? Yes. Really. And, kids released from the confines of school and daycare  . . . need I say more?

All the more reason to keep plugging away at writing about cooking for my family. The blog keeps me honest and inspires me to explore. It’s like you all are looking over my shoulder while I hurry around our kitchen to get a healthy, tasty, vegetarian meal on the table most nights.

This particular night was a yoga night, which usually means a Jimmy John’s #6 or the Yoga Special. One of my favorite chickpea salads has been hanging around in my head lately. I decided to throw it together before I left for my practice. It takes all of 10 minutes if you have the beans cooked or canned beans on hand (I do think it is worth it to make your own chickpeas . . . they don’t have that weird, funky, canned chickpea smell and they have some structure to them). The taste is not a cheap, 10 minute taste, I promise.

Right after I threw this salad together, Alia walked in the kitchen and asked for a bite. I hesitated because I thought she would spit it out. Instead I balanced a chickpea laced with flecks of parsley and mint on a fork and fed it to her. She chewed thoughtfully with her usually silky smooth brow furrowed and proclaimed, “I wike it. It’s sour. Maybe you can make this for me for lunch sometime.” Then she admonished me for not offering her more.

Knock me over with a feather . . . or something.

Chickpea Salad (without or with Roasted Red Peppers)

adapted from Deborah Madison’s brilliant Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

serves 4 as a side or a part of a platter including hard boiled eggs, thin slices of Manchego, tomato wedges and toasted, crusty bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with a respectable extra virgin olive oil

3 cups of cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned (about 2 15-ounce cans)
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
3 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Toss the the chickpeas with herbs and the capers in a medium size bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar, salt, garlic and olive oil. Pour over the chickpea mixture and combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate it for a day to allow the flavors to magically meld.

Note: The original recipe also has two large, roasted red peppers cut into strips added. I have made it with the peppers on occasion. You see, I am not a big bell pepper fan . . . especially green ones. *Shudder* I can tolerate the other colors, but, given a choice, I leave them out. So, if you are partial, by all means throw those in as well.

Ratings:

Me:  A+ of course. You don’t have chickpea salads knocking around in your head unless they are really, really good.

Scott: N/A (He did not eat it this particular time, but has liked it very much in the past.)

Luca: N/A (Chickpeas make him gag.)

Alia: Another A+ of course. She asked me to make it for her for lunch (see above) – a time reserved for macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese. That is saying something!

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Malad?

Taco salad makeover

It’s not a town in southeastern Idaho.

Nor is it a suburb of Dubai, India.

It’s a salad! It’s a meal! It’s a malad! Okay. Not the catchiest name, but what else can we call these one bowl wonders? One of our favorite malads is taco salad. Even Alia will eat this one . . . not without a bit of prodding because of the vile, crunchy stuff known as lettuce, but – hey – you can’t have everything.

Before I came across this recipe, my experience with taco salads was limited to those served in restaurants, if you call Taco Bell a restaurant. I grew up on those taco “salads” – a big, greasy flour tortilla filled with ground beef (possibly mixed with pink slime?), cheese and a little, tiny bit of green stuff. This recipe from Cook’s Illustrated ditches the big, greasy shell for crushed tortilla chips. You know. The ones in the bottom of the bag that you throw away? Start saving them. When you have a few cups, make this salad. If you can’t wait, take out a rolling pin and crush the crap out of whole ones. This is also a very greens forward recipe. You may have noticed the whole meat thing. I use a mix of Yves Meatless Ground Round and canned black beans instead. You could easily just use beans or stick with the ground beef, of course.

Malad is not the most appetizing name, but don’t let that keep you from trying this updated taco salad. Better than Taco Bell – guaranteed.

Taco Salad (serves 4 generously)

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 tablespoons lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
scant 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
12 oz. Yves Meatless Ground Round (or a can of black beans, drained)
1 can black beans (low sodium is better), drained
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 hearts romaine lettuce, shredded
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 cups corn tortilla chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Optional add-ins: diced avocados, shredded pepper Jack or cheddar cheese, or minced red onion.

Combine lime juice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/3 cup olive oil  in a lidded jar and shake to mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining teaspoon oil in large skillet over medium heat until warm. Add remaining garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne, if using, and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the Yves Meatless Ground Round and black beans and cook, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon, until heated through. Stir in tomato paste and water and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and cover to keep warm.

Toss lettuce, tomatoes, and chips (and any other add-ins – I always included shredded, sharp cheddar) with lime juice dressing in large bowl. Add enough dressing to coat, but not soak (I usually don’t use all the dressing). Divide salad among individual plates and top each portion with some bean mixture. Serve topped with sour cream if desired.

Ratings:

Me:  A (It think the tangy lime dressing and tortilla chips make the salad.)

Scott:  A++

Luca:  A++ (This is one of his favorite dishes.)

Alia:  B (She happily ate everything but the Romaine.)

Sunday Slaw

Creamy Cole Slaw

I have a strange preoccupation with cruciferous vegetables. I know I could have worse issues – although my family may beg to differ (especially Alia). I work cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli into meals whenever possible. I haven’t dared to traverse Brussels sprouts territory yet. Someday. Someday.

Slaw shows up on the menu a lot. It’s not that overly creamy, soggy stuff from the grocery store deli. It is thin shreds of cabbage and carrot lightly dressed with a vinaigrette or a light sweet and sour dressing like the one here. Slaw is so versatile. It marries well with Asian and Mexican flavors. It’s quick and easy. Finally, cabbage lasts for a long time in the fridge unlike other greens.

I made this one to go with Friday falafel.

adapted from Bobby Flay’s Creamy Cole Slaw

make 4 generous servings in 10 minutes

1/2 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded (I learned about Savoy cabbage from Marcella Hazan. It is a cross between cabbage and lettuce . . . less dense than run of the mill green cabbage).
1 large carrot, finely shredded
1/3 cup best-quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon onion powder (I was desperate to get the meal on the table and didn’t want to take the time to chop one more thing so I threw this in instead. The original recipe calls for 2 TBS grated onion.)
1 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon beau monde seasoning (The original recipe calls for celery salt which I didn’t have.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Me:    A (I usually eat half of the bowl before it makes it to the table)

Scott:  B

Luca: B-

Alia: F (This is something Alia hasn’t warmed up to but I still put it on her plate.)

You won’t want to miss tomorrow’s post, “The Other T Word”!

After the Bliss Redux

Thursday night yoga and then out for a late birthday celebration for me. No potatoes and hash browns. No Jimmy John’s. A dirty martini though. Can’t go wrong with that.

Back at the ranch, Scott made an old stand-by for dinner – what I often refer to as the egg potato salad thing. The recipe lives in one of the stand-by recipe binders in the photo. That’s where I keep most of the recipes I find online or in magazines, although I have been relying on Pinterest a lot lately. Do you have a system for keeping track of recipes?

Yes, eggs and potatoes again. This is the real world and sometimes there are repeats in the real world. Actually, LOTS of times there are repeats. This is a good recipe to have in your arsenal. You probably have all the ingredients (or approximations) kicking around in the fridge. We don’t always have spinach. Romaine works just as well. We also don’t use 2 pounds of greens – maybe most of the head of Romaine or about 3/4 a bag of spinach. Once you put the dressing on, you must eat the greens. They don’t keep . . . at all. So, I just dress what I think we will eat. I love the dressing. It has lots of vinegar so there is a nice tang. I use sherry vinegar if I have it. It is complex, but has a softness to it at the same time. The Dijon mustard adds a nice punch.

Tomorrow, I am hanging up my yoga pants and cooking again. Hint: it rhymes with ‘awful’.

Ratings:

Me:     I was having a drink, remember?

Scott: A (“That’s one of my favorites”)

Luca:  A (“Hmm. I’d give it an A, but not an A+ because there are some things that are better, but it IS good”)

Alia:   D (This is one of her unfavorite meals due to the presence of crunchy greens. She did eat the egg and potato, however)