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[Photograph: Vanessa K. Rees]

I love chickpeas. I'll eat them every which way, and sometimes right out of the can. But I don't usually do much to them before adding them to a dish. In this salad from her new vegan cookbook, Salad Samurai, Terry Hope Romero inspires me to do more.

To make them the star of this show, Romero fries them until golden, pours on a BBQ-inspired marinade that coats the now crispy chickpeas with smoky-sweet flavor, and finishes with a sprinkling of savory nutritional yeast. The rest of the salad—greens, onions, tomatoes, carrots, avocado—is thrown together with a cider vinegar and smoked paprika dressing that, again, conjures Southern barbecue. Super easy and seriously good! Chickpeas deserve more than I've been giving them.

Why I picked this recipe: Barbecue chickpeas!

What worked: The chickpeas were awesome. They'd be great as a stand-alone snack, but the richness from the avocado and the smoky, bright dressing set them off.

What didn't: There wasn't nearly enough of the marinade to 'simmer for 4 minutes,' as instructed. It coated the chickpeas, and that was more or less that. I kicked them around the pan for a couple of minutes to caramelize a bit, but there was no simmering. Also, there was too much red onion in proportion to the other ingredients; use only as much as you like.

Suggested tweaks: This is definitely a salad you can play with. Corn or cucumbers would be terrific additions, or pile everything in a pita for a vegan BBQ sandwich.

As usual, we have 5 copies of Salad Samurai to give away this week.

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