Friday, February 25, 2011

A Salad you can get excited about!!

Most people think of salad and boring and what you eat because you "should". Not so this salad. This is tasty. So much so that I was wolfing it down like a wild animal, entirely unable to photograph my work!

Spicy Cajun salad with Corn-Shallot dressing.

2 cans chickpeas
2 bunches green onions
2 containers grape tomatoes
Spring greens
Frozen sweet white corn
2.5 TBS Shallots (2-3 sections of shallot)
Mild Rice vinegar
olive oil or canola oil

Cajun Spice Mix:
1/2-1tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBS Thyme
2 TBS Paprika
4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TBS Onion Powder
3 TBS Garlic Powder
2 TBS Chili Powder
2 TBS Oregano
3 tsp salt
1.5 TBS black pepper
(you'll need to use a mortar & pestle or spice grinder to grind these together, because otherwise they'll be too large and won't stick well to your chickpeas + zucchini)

We got one of those giant containers of spring greens for the greens.

Wash your tomatoes & green onions and cut off the very last inch or two of green onion (and the hairy butt end), and then if you're watching calories, spray with spray oil. Otherwise, drizzle liberally with olive oil. Shake some salt on. Stab each tomato with a fork so it doesn't explode. Broil for about 5-7 mins on High. Once cooled, chop the tomatoes in half and the onions into 2 inch strips. Then preheat oven to 400.

Slice 3-4 zucchinis in half, then each half in half, and then again so you have little long triangles of zucchini, cut the triangles to about 3 inches long. Coat liberally in cajun spices and roast, turning once for about 20-30 minutes? (I don't remember, but check on them every 10 mins).

Open 2 cans of chickpeas, rinse and pat dry with paper towels till just slightly moist. Then spread them out onto a lightly greased jelly roll pan (not a cookie sheet otherwise they'll roll off into your oven) Dust well with the cajun spices, then roll them around and dust again, till they get an even coating of spices. It should look like they are super duper coated in spices, to an excessive extent. Now you can spray the chickpeas lightly with spray oil and place into the 400 degree oven. Every 15 mins, check on them, and STIR THEM. We forgot to stir and the outer ones got burned and that was sad. It should take about 45-50 mins for your chickpeas to get crunchy. That's your goal.

While those things are cooking, take 1.5 cups of sweet white frozen corn, microwave till thawed (not hot), and then throw into a blender or food processor. Add about 2 TBS of rice vinegar and 2.5 TBS chopped shallot and 1-2 TBS of olive oil and blend well. Taste, adjust amt of vinegar and corn to you liking, blend again. I'll be pretty thick, but you just have to stir it really well into the greens for a while and it'll spread out. You might add a bit of water though if it seems dry.

To assemble:

Take a pile of lettuce (about 2 cups), and plop 2 TBS of the very thick chunky corn dressing on it. Massage around with your hands to coat. Put 2 tbs of broiled tomatoes and 2 TBS of broiled scallions and massage into the salad. Place the zucchinis in an attractive wheel spokes fashion radiating from the center of the salad bowl. Then sprinkle with a handful and a half of crunchy chickpeas. Now you can gorge yourself on this delish drool worthy salad.

If you have leftover spices, you can dust your popcorn with them for cajun flavored popcorn (I did this!), or rub some tofu with the spices and fry it up.

Another important note about this recipe. In general, whenever I use my oven I try to figure out something else I could use it for right after - like throw some sweet potatoes in there for baking, or bake an eggplant. That way it saves you work the next day or day after if you need roasted eggplant for a dish, and baked sweet potatoes make excellent healthy snacks, and can be incorporated into many dishes.