Saturday, May 26, 2012

Refreshing Chickpea & Cucumber Salad

Bursting with colorful, healthy ingredients like buttery smooth protein-packed chickpeas, juicy, crisp bites of sweet red bell pepper, freshly grated carrots, and cucumbers, this is one of my favorite salads.  Not only is this salad healthy, but the taste is incredibly refreshing and very addictive.

I make this salad often to eat for lunch throughout the week. My daughter really loves it. Easily halved, although honestly, we polish this off quickly because it is so tasty.  This will keep all week in your fridge, if it lasts that long. I started making this salad after seeing similar versions on several other blogs, most notably There's Always Thyme to Cook, as well as the back of a Goya chickpeas can.

Chickpea & Cucumber Salad, adapted slightly from There's Always Thyme to Cook and Goya
(makes one large bowl full, or about 10 servings)

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed well, drained
1 large cucumber, diced (you may peel and seed if you you prefer)
1 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled, finely shredded or finely diced
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or mint (do not used dry, just omit if you don't have fresh)

1/4 cup White Balsamic vinegar, approximately
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, approximately
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (dried minced garlic)

Prep all of your veggies and drain and rinse your beans, combining everything together in a large bowl.  Mix together the dressing ingredients and toss with the beans/veggie mixture, tasting and adjusting the flavors to taste.  Chill well and serve.

*Note: Granulated garlic is sold in the spice section and comes in small tiny crunchy pieces; this is not the same product as garlic powder.  If you can't find any, you can toast some fresh minced garlic in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil until it just begins to crisp, then quickly remove to paper towels to drain and cool.

White balsamic vinegar has a subtle, lightly sweet clean taste and is usually sold right next to regular Balsamic vinegar.  If you don't have any, you can mix white wine vinegar with some white grape juice.  Regular Balsamic vinegar has a much stronger, very different taste and also makes the salad take on an unattractive purplish hue, so I don't recommend it as a substitute.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Raspberry Walnut Salad

Since I have been dieting for the past couple of months, salads have become a major player in my menus.  I typically eat a large salad for lunch every day, and very often add a side salad to accompany my dinners as well.

This is a very simple yet addictive salad that I tried the other night.  I have had similar versions before, but this one was just so easy to throw together on the spur of the moment.  I think I have eaten this salad three nights in a row already this week, it is really that tasty.

Raspberry Walnut Side Salad
(inspired by a recipe demo at Publix)

1 serving

1 generous handful torn romaine lettuce leaves, washed, dried well
1-2 tsp blue cheese crumbles
1-2 tsp chopped walnuts
1/4-1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, to taste
1-3 tsp raspberry vinaigrette*, to taste

Assemble the lettuce, cheese, and walnuts on a plate.  Whisk together some lemon zest and a small amount of raspberry vinaigrette, then drizzle over the salad.

*To make your own raspberry vinaigrette, whisk together canola oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a very small spoonful of raspberry preserves, all to taste.  Or you may use store bought.

The lemon zest really makes the dressing sing and is a great way to doctor up any bottled vinaigrette.