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Spicy Green Chickpea Salad

This salad is one of those 'accidental' recipes that (thankfully) comes along every once in a while. I find that with working around food all the time, there are the inevitable dry spells where my over-active brain just needs a break; a break from thinking up ways to combine foods in new and creative ways. It's something I don't think I'll ever tire of, and I often compare the art of creating beautiful food to other creative hobbies like painting, or gardening or even creating outfits or compositions in a room. The process of composing is endlessly satisfying, and to me, it seems the possibilities are infinite. Except when my brain is tired of being pushed, and simply out of bandwidth to think another thought. Those are the weekends when I release myself (as best I can!) from any pressure to create anything, and instead, just eat and make meals from the ingredients we have in the house. Those also tend to be the weekends I watch Netflix and spend lots of extra cuddle time with my cat.

I found myself watching an Instagram video on the Erewhon Market Instagram account a few weekends ago and came across this spicy green salad dressing recipe. Having never been to an Erewhon Market myself (though I'm headed to LA in a few weeks and plan to visit), I've never had any interaction with their recipes or food, but the video spelled it out seamlessly, and it was just the type of info my tired mind could readily absorb. Plus, the health benefits of this combo are amazing ~ this dressing is similar to the middle eastern herb sauce Zhug, which I have played with versions here and there and always LOVED. I love cilantro and spice and have a similar dressing recipe posted here.

I rooted around and found a lonely Persian cucumber in the fridge, some creamy cooked Kabuli chickpeas (I almost always have these), and of course two always-in-my-fridge staples: feta and fresh flat leaf parsley. Oh, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to finally try the sprouted sunflower seeds I'd had in my fridge, since (who are we kidding), these were the single bag of seeds and nuts from my last Nut Hut order that I had not opened yet. These sprouted seeds are magic when toasted lightly in the oven ~ I made a batch and used up the entire bag; they were all gone in a week as I sprinkled them on literally everything. I can't wait to make this again soon. Aren't the happy accidents in the kitchen just the best? I think so ;) .

A note about nuts:

I order all of my nuts from local Vancouver company Nut Hut. This is not a sponsored mention, I just love their products and use them exclusively. Why? They are the only company I know of that refrigerates their nuts ~ which is so important for preventing rancidity. I know so many folks who are wise to keeping nuts in the fridge - this is to prevent the natural oils in the nuts from turning rancid. Most of the time nuts are kept in the bulk bins at grocery stores, at room temperature and exposed to heat, light, and air. These are contributors to degradation and rancidity (which affects the taste but also eating rancid nuts is not good for you!), so if you can, it's best to buy your nuts from places with a fairly high turnover of their bulk section. Nut Hut ensures that all the nuts in their inventory are kept cold, which shows up in the way the products they have digest and taste. They also source the highest quality products directly from the farms. I highly recommend their products.

Spicy Green Chickpea Salad

Spicy Green Dressing:

~ slightly adapted from Erewhon Market

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2-3 whole Jalapeno peppers (feel free to remove some seeds for a less spicy dressing)
  • 2 bunches fresh cilantro, leaves and top of stems only (cut just above the twist tie and compost the stems)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste

To make the dressing, combine all of the dressing ingredients except the oil and blend until smooth. With the blender on low, slowly add the oil until creamy and emulsified. Transfer to a clean jar until ready to use.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I use GRAIN Kabuli Chickpeas)
  • 1 large Persian cucumber, washed and sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp toasted* sunflower seeds *dry toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

To make the salad, mix the chickpeas and sliced cucumber with 1/4-1/3 cup dressing (this is an approximate amount, feel free to adjust to taste). Top with toasted sunflower seeds, crumbled feta cheese, and parsley. Simple and easy. This recipe makes about two servings but make in any quantity you like ~ leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Enjoy without the feta for a fully vegan meal salad. And a word about this dressing, it can be really spicy! I used 3 whole, unseeded jalapenos and it was hot. If you are sensitive to heat, I recommend starting with just one, or if you are brave 2 (and feel free to seed them too!). I would make it again as is since the heat and spice are so good for the immune system.

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