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Home Cookin’: Carrot and Chickpea Salad

I like it when my food can multitask. I’m so busy these days, that I make one vat of a salad-y item on the weekends and combine it with different ingredients throughout the week. Especially if you’re cooking for one, it’s a great way to avoid that inevitable food boredom.

For this dish, I’m starting with three of my pantry staples, carrots, chickpeas and toasted almonds, and I’m jazzing them up with a flavorful dressing. Made with a tangy, yet delicious blend of lemon juice, fresh cilantro, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and ground black pepper, the end result makes pantry staples suddenly seem more gourmet.

While this would be great as a side dish, I make it into a meal by combining it with various ingredients. For example, add spinach, chicken and raisins for an easy salad. It also holds its own when added to quinoa, or a grain like rice (also great in the aforementioned salad). For vegetarians, I’d also consider adding additional chopped veggies to this salad, like zucchini and green beans. Be creative!

Ingredients:
Makes Six Servings
-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
-1 Garlic clove, minced (I use a garlic press)
-1/2 Cup toasted slivered almonds (you can buy them toasted, or toast them yourself)
-2 Packed cups cilantro – leaves & stems
-1 Tsp ground cumin
-1 Tsp sweet smoked paprika
-1/4 Tsp cayenne pepper
-1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
-Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
-2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
-1 Pound carrots, peeled & shredded (or a bag of pre-shredded)

Start by whipping out your food processor, or if you’re like moi, your mini food processor (such a useful kitchen tool)! Add lemon juice, minced garlic, and half of the almonds. Give it a good whirl.

Next, add your cilantro. Don’t be afraid to pack it in! Add your spices: cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and pulse until chopped. If you need a little help from the olive oil, go for it!

If you haven’t already, add your olive oil and balsamic, and process into a chunky paste (aka green goop). Or, if we want to be more gourmet about it, let’s call it pesto-like. Once at your desired consistency, add salt and extra black pepper to taste.

 

Rinse canned chickpeas in a strainer, then add to a medium bowl. Toss with carrots. I’m such a cheater, I like to buy my carrots pre-shredded for this dish from Trader Joe’s, but it would probably be even better with freshly shredded. Whole Foods does sell fresher already shredded carrots, but it’ll cost you, given the amount you’ll need for this dish. Add your delicious green goop and toss until incorporated.

Garnish with remaining almonds and serve. It’s not a bad idea to have some floss on hand after eating this dish. But, it’s so good that it’s worth it! Maybe just not for the first time you cook for a new special someone…hehe!


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