Oven Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

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I love chickpeas – drained, rinsed and tossed in a variety of salads, transformed into a luscious channa masala curry and so on. While plain chickpeas are easy to drain out of a can onto a salad, roasted chickpeas elevate themselves to another level!

Roasting canned chickpeas may sound like a major undertaking, but it really isn’t. The hardest part is probably breaking away from whatever you are doing every 15 min or so to toss the chickpeas around so they roast evenly.

Despite how ridiculously easy this recipe is, the most exciting part is myriad of ways to season the chickpeas. You can literally use whatever flavors, spices or seasoning mix you want. Just choose what your heart desires along with couple of tablespoons of oil for a 29oz can of chickpeas. You can always divide the chickpeas into smaller amounts and use different seasonings – you just need to keep them separate while baking. I used spicy seasoning mixes, and hence these are roasted spicy chickpeas. I baked two batches, one with gochujang (Korean chili paste seasoning) and prepared zhoug sauce (it’s a Mediterranean sauce with cilantro, chili and spices and tastes very similar to Indian cilantro chutney. I bought mine from Trader Joe’s). Both types of roasted chickpeas were pleasantly flavored with very distinct flavor profiles which helps add variety to my salads this week (but geez, with the recall of romaine lettuce and all salad mixes containing romaine, it’s going to be a bit challenging to whip up quick salads. Kale anyone?!)

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Roasted chickpeas won’t really have the same texture as store-bought ones in sealed packages. They tend to have a very crisp, hard texture. These home roasted chickpeas have a bite and are on the chewy side – in my opinion, perfect texture for a salad or snack.

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Oven Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

  • Servings: Each 29oz makes about 6-8 servings
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Ingredients:

Two 29oz cans chickpeas

Seasoning 1

2 tablespoons zhoug sauce (Trader Joe’s)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil (less oil due to the oil in the zhoug sauce)

Seasoning 2

2 tablespoons gochujang paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment and set aside.
2. Drain and rinse chickpeas from the two cans and divide among two medium sized bowls.
3. Add seasoning mix 1 and 2 to the bowls (of course, separately). Toss to coat well.
4. Transfer the chickpeas to the baking trays and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, taking care to check on the chickpeas every 15 minutes.
5. Chickpeas will look and feel dry when done. Remove from oven and let them cool completely. Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate. It will taste great at least for a week.

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Blackbean and Veggie Falafels

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I am glad to admit that I am not a purist. There is something a bit more personal and exciting about bending the norms a little. At least in the food we enjoy! Think about it…if you always followed the same cake or casserole recipe, won’t you be bored? That’s when we get creative with tossing in a little bit of this and that or “wing it” along the way.

These falafels are the result of going with the flow and keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t be a crumbly or horrible tasting mess. Inspiration for this recipe, which uses cauliflower, sweet potato and black beans came from watching the recent trends with cauliflower everything, including pizza crust! PIZZA CRUST! If cauliflower could be a pizza crust, it better be a darn good falafel. And it delivered!

Honestly, these falafels are a winner not not because they have a good doze of veggies, but also because they are oven-baked with a light drizzle of oil and not deep fried like the traditional ones. What is not to love about it, right?! These delicious bites held their shape, stored well for few days refrigerated and made a perfect match as a salad topper or filler for a pita. So, go ahead and make a batch! You can drop a thank you note later! 🙂

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Blackbean and Veggie Falafels

  • Servings: 18-20 falafels
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Note about Prep Time: Prep time is about 20 min, refrigeration for about 30 min and cook (bake) time about 45 min.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups grated cauliflower

1 1/2 cups grated sweet potato

1/4 cup finely chopped onions

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Salt to taste

1 14.5oz black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup chickpea flour

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Dry roast coriander and cumin seeds for 5 min over low heat and grind to a powder in a dry grinder or in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and saute the vegetables, including onion and garlic. Add the ground spices, salt, paprika and cayenne. Let cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mash the drained blackbeans. Add the vegetable mixture and chickpea flour and thoroughly mix in. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. Take the refrigerated falafel mixture out and form into about 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls.
  6. Arrange on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
  7. Bake for about 25 min. Turn over and continue to bake for another 20 min till firm and golden.
  8. Serve immediately in a salad or as a wrap. Refrigerate remaining falafels.

Citrusy Asian Salad in Crispy Wonton Shells

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It’s been a very hectic week and I didn’t have the chance to go by the grocery store like I had hoped to. There was a potluck BBQ party on Saturday and I had to figure out a no-fuss, yet rather light summery appetizer to take along.  I know I had a tray of shaved beef in the freezer. Since one of my kids has more or less sworn off beef, I figured I could use the meat for an appetizer.

After a mental run down of what seemed like dozens of ideas, I decided on a summery, citrusy salad that could be eaten as a finger food. Ah, what better vehicle to hold the salad than crispy wonton shells! Have you tried those? I must say, this was my first time and I was quite impressed! The shells remained partially crisp the next day, even after a light drizzle of the delicious citrusy-Asian dressing.

It is super easy to make the shells. Just spray a muffin pan and gently mold a wonton wrapper into a general cup shape and bake at 350F for about 7 minutes or so. Similarly, shaved beef is super easy to cook. Fast too! Just season with whatever – in this case, an Asian-inspired marinade, and just saute for a few minutes.

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The salad dressing, which probably is the best part of this entire dish, is a simple combination of lemon juice, honey, teriyaki sauce, few drops of dark sesame oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

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Just layer on the salad ingredients and drizzle the dressing right before serving. These cups were a huge hit at the gathering and people raved about the dressing. Addition of lemon zest does take it a whole new level, so don’t hold back on it!

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So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to impress your friends and family at the next gathering with this super light, yet super delicious Citrusy Asian Salad in Crispy Wonton Shells!

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  • Servings: ”18″
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Ingredients
18 wonton shells
cooking spray
2 cups of Spring green mix
1/4 cup thinly sliced salad radish
1/4 cup finely minced red peppers
1/2 lb shaved beef
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
dash of salt and pepper

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spary a muffin pan with cooking spray. Carefully place a wonton wrapper into each of the muffin cups and gently form into shells. Bake for 8 minutes till golden. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.
2. In a medium frying pan, spoon a tablespoon of oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the beef and quickly stir around till meat is browned. Add the teriyaki sauce and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let the meat cool to room temperature.
3. In the meantime, remove the wonton shells from the muffin pan and carefully arrange them on a large platter. Place a layer of salad greens into each shell. Place about a tablespoon of the sautéed beef and top with radish and peppers. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad cups right before serving.

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Chickpeas

Now that the weather is getting warmer (although I wish it would just stay warm and keep getting warmer!), it is time to lighten up the meals a bit. And so enters quinoa – again!

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One of my earliest post is for a slightly different version of quinoa salad. This recipe inspired by a traditional tabbouleh using bulgar goes to show how versatile these little seeds are! Just have a container of cooked quinoa handy and you can make a salad, quinoa breakfast cereal or southwest quinoa patty in a jiffy.

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Although the veggies listed under ingredients are what I used for this batch, you can go crazy with your favorites. Chickpeas not only amp up the fiber content, but also make this salad more substantial – a plus in my opinion ‘cos that means you don’t have to rummage through the pantry for a snack soon after dinner. Dressing is very light and refreshing with lemon juice, garlic and a bit of ground cumin. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a large bowl and start tossing in your favorite veggies and quinoa!

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Quinoa abbouleh with Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4 entrée portions
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Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa, cooled
4 cups of cut up fresh salad veggies of your choice
1 15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Zest from half lemon
Juice from half lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably freshly ground
Optional, Pita halves to serve alongside “tabbouleh”

Preparation
1. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cut up vegetables, chickpeas, lemon zest and fresh herbs. I used broccoli florets, purple cabbage, cucumber and tomato.
2. In a small bowl, combine lemon rest of the ingredients except pita halves. Whisk to make a dressing.
3. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and other “tabbouleh” ingredients and toss to combine.
4. Serve with a pita half or just by itself. Salad will keep refrigerated for next day’s lunch.

TIP: Feel free to sauté the broccoli florets in a tablespoon of olive oil to develop the flavors.

Hearty and Healthy Kale Salad

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Green may not be my favorite color, but I love greens – the eating type! Spinach, collar, mustard, kale, turnip…When it comes to spinach and kale, I enjoy them in every which way. So, when it was time for a light and quick lunch over the weekend, I was motivated by my sister to prepare a kale salad.

I had kale on hand along with bunch of salad-type veggies. So, a quick look through the refrigerator and pantry resulted in me laying out kale, radish, red onions, purple cabbage, fresh orange, fresh lemon, canned chickpeas, feta cheese, leftover turkey bacon and boiled eggs! It’s gonna be delish!

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I have heard people complain about kale being difficult to digest. Although I haven’t found this to be an issue, I figured I will look into it. After a brief cyber consulting, I decided to do a flash-blanch of the leaves prior to preparing the salad. Briefly sautéing or blanching kale not only helps with easier digestion, but also softens its earthy, slightly bitter taste. Additionally, it also makes it easier to make kids eat it too!

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Feel free to add in any salad vegetables of your choice. You can also add in cooked quinoa, barley or couscous in lieu of (or in addition to) the chickpeas. Similarly, replace boiled egg with grilled chicken breast or salmon. Let your creativity run wild – I guarantee you will enjoy the finished dish!

Lastly, I really think the quick salad dressing made using orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and dash of crushed cumin seeds is just perfect for this salad. Again, feel free to substitute another dressing of your choice. This salad is satisfying, delicious and packed with chock full of nutrients! Enjoy!

Hearty and Healthy Kale Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
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Ingredients
3 cups of kale leaves, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup sliced red cabbage
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radish
2 sweet oranges, segments removed and juices reserved for dressing
2 – 3 slices of cooked turkey bacon, chopped
2 boiled eggs, chopped
2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese, optional

Dressing
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice (from above)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed or ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
1. Blanch kale leaves very quickly by dropping them in boiling water and immediately removing them. You can transfer them to an ice-cold water bath, but I skipped this step. Transfer the drained leaves to a salad spinner and remove any remaining water.
2. Place the leaves in a large bowl. Add in remaining salad ingredients and toss to evenly distribute.
3. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients thoroughly.
4. Drizzle over salad and serve immediately.

Citrusy Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Spaghetti Squash Strands

Citrusy Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Spaghetti Squash Strands

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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citrusy quinoa salad with edamame and spaghetti squash

Ingredients
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cups cooked spaghetti squash, loosely packed
1/2 cup boiled, shelled edamame
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced green pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato (or 1/2 cup cherry tomato, halved)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced/grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbls of chopped cilantro leaves (or more if desired)
2 tbls of feta cheese, if desired
Preparation
1. Prepare quinoa according to cooking instructions (usually cooked in twice the amount of water on stovetop or in rice cooker)
2. Combine all vegetables in a medium sized bowl.
3. Combine lemon juice, zest, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk well to combine.
4. Add to vegetables and toss to coat.
5. Serve and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and feta chees, if desired.