Last year during vegan month, my mom said to me, "So what do vegan people eat?" And I started listing all of the vegetables I could think of. She interrupted me with an, "Oh, so basically lots of side dishes?"
I don't blame her. It's easy to get it in your head that vegetables are only side dishes when you're born and raised with a meat-in-the-middle-of-the-plate diet, and even easier when whoever's doing the cooking is paying more attention to that meat than the vegetables.
What I can do, on the other hand, is try to stuff her with vegetables and salads that are so darn delicious that she'll stop thinking of them as sides and start thinking of them as what they are: meals unto themselves. This Roasted Chickpea and Kale Salad is a good place to start.
Chickpeas on their own are wonderful in salads (and in almost any other application I can think of), and when you combine them with kale, they become a meal that's as hearty as it is tasty. It's a combo I use in one of my other favorite salads, this Marinated Kale and Chickpea Salad with Sumac Onions.
In that recipe, the chickpeas go in straight from the can (or the pot if you want to cook them from dry). Today, we're going to roast them first.
Roasting them not only concentrates their flavor, giving them an intense nuttiness (and offering you the opportunity to cook some flavors right into them, like the paprika and cumin I add), but it also alters their texture. Cook them long enough and they get completely crisp, which makes them a fun bar snack. For this salad, they're cooked not quite as long, producing chickpeas that are ever so slightly crisp on the edges, with a moist internal meatiness. A handful of pine nuts reinforces the nutty, meaty flavor.
I've discovered in the past that the best way to incorporate kale into a salad is to massage it with olive oil beforehand. The oil penetrates the waxy cuticle on the leaves, softening them. You end up with greens that are tender but crisp, and more importantly, stay crisp for days even after being dressed.
Speaking of dressing, we're making a very basic vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, sherry vinegar (red wine will work just fine), some garlic, and some thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes, which bring their characteristic sweetness to the mix.
On its own, the salad was still missing something. A dash of hot sauce added to the dressing perked it up, as did some sliced scallions.
But the real key is herbs, and lots of them. A full cup of cilantro leaves and mint leaves roughly chopped before folding into the salad adds a layer of flavor—think of it as a pole—that vaults your salad out of the side dish and smack into the center of your bowl. Eat up.
1 (28 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch curly kale, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1 quart of greens)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 medium clove garlic, grated (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon, plus more juice as desired
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Frank's
2 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Spread chickpeas on top and roll around under your hands to thoroughly dry. Transfer chickpeas to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin, and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard paper towels and line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread chickpeas over foil and transfer to oven. Roast on upper rack, shaking pan occasionally, until chickpeas are about 3/4 their original size with a dense, nutty texture, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, add kale to now-empty chickpea bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and massage kale until well-coated in oil. Set aside at room temperature.
Place pine nuts in a skillet and transfer to lower rack of oven. Toast, stirring occasionally, until pine nuts are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine sun-dried tomatoes, scallions, garlic, lemon juice, zest, hot sauce, vinegar, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir well with a fork.
When chickpeas are cooked and slightly cooled, add to bowl with kale. Add pine nuts, sun-dried tomato dressing, cilantro, and mint. Toss with hands until well-combined. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice as necessary.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 22g||28%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||12%|
|Total Carbohydrate 34g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||35%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 44mg||220%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|