I’m a little late to the toasted chickpea party, it seems.
Seems a little olive oil bath, a big pinch of flaky salt, and a trip through a hot oven works some magic on even the most humble bean. Addictive stuff. So good that even Jen, who only eats her chickpeas in pureed form, was smitten.
Speaking of smitten, the recipe here is adapted ever so slightly from the lovely Smitten Kitchen, who way-adapted it from David Lebovitz. I laughed when I read David’s accurate description of the French obsession with salade de carottes râpées. In Quebec too, you find it served up everywhere from the Provigo to the dining hall at McGill. The Smitten adaption is a decidedly non-French version, with about 25,000 more ingredients than sanctioned, and which I totally adore. Maybe it’s the American chopped/Cobb salad legacy, but I do love a little excess in salad form. (Okay, in most forms…)
This is the kind of thing that’s much more than the sum of its parts – humble ingredients (sans the cashews, thanks to a Trader Joes trip this weekend) that marinate together to make an easy salad to plug into your dinner as a side or the main attraction.
I’ve never been a fan of carrot salads with sweet dressings or (eeek!) raisins. The flavors here balance the sweetness of the carrots against the brightness of lemon juice and the bitter-creaminess of tahini. The best part of course is a good shaking of toasted nuts and crazy delicious crispy chickpeas and if you’re not into tahini, I think a simple lemon-olive oil dressing would work just fine here.
We kept pretty close to the original recipe, save for the addition of the avocado (More excess! But don’t skip it, it’s awesome), cashews swapped in for the pistachios, and a little heat from some crushed chili flakes.
Makes a big bowl of salad that serves 4 as a main (with some bread or a couple slices of grilled meat on the side) or 6-8 as a side dish.
carrot & avocado salad with crispy chickpeas and cashews
- 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with paper towels
- Pinch or two of ground cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Plenty of flaky sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and toss together chickpeas, cumin, oil, and salt on a small baking tray. Toast 20-30 minutes until crisped to your liking, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes – mine took about 28 minutes. When crisp, remove and keep uncovered at room temperature until ready to serve. Taste for seasoning – like any crispy snack food, these benefit from a heavy hand on the salt.
- 1 medium clove garlic
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- Good pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup lemon juice – from about 1 large lemon or 1 and a half small lemons
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Using a mortar and pestle or the back of your chef’s knife, pound together the garlic, chili flakes, and salt. Pour in your lemon juice (transfer to a bowl if you’re using a knife.) Mix well and add the tahini, water and olive oil. Taste for seasoning – it should be brightly acidic and a little salty since you’re adding lots of sweet carrots and avocado.
- 1 lbs carrots, peeled and shredded
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large ripe avocado – sliced or cubed just before serving
- 1/3 cup toasted cashews roughly chopped
- Toasted chickpeas (above)
- Lemon wedges for serving
Toss together the carrots and parsley with 2/3 of the dressing and taste – add more dressing and/or salt and pepper as you like – I used most of the dressing and a little extra s&p. The salad can keep covered several hours or overnight in the fridge. When ready to serve, toss again and top with avocado, cashews, and chickpeas. Pass lemon wedges on the side and enjoy!
Not cooking for 4-6? Store the cashews and chickpeas separate from the salad so they don’t get soggy & top individual servings just before you eat. I find the chickpeas lose their crispiness overnight – you can re-toast a few minutes at 425 degrees to restore them.