Chickpea Salad

I’m not on a vegetarian kick, I swear. If you read Monday’s post, you’ll recall this tasty pita. It’s soooo good. This salad, it’s also soooo good. I love salad, I really do. But slimy gross lettuce with mealy, cardboardy tomatoes (yes, cardboardy, I said it) makes me kind of want to gag. No one wants to open up their little lunch container to look at that. Blerg.

This salad isn’t like that. All the ingredients are sturdy, easy-to-transport, tasty items that you’ll love for lunch. My only caution on this one, it has some rather pungent ingredients, so if you have co-workers you like, you might want to bring your toothbrush for after lunch. But you should keep one in your desk anyway, you never know. For those of you who work alone, tear it up, no toothbrush needed.

Chickpea Salad 

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray

Ingredients

There’s no cooking here friends, just dumping ingredients into a bowl. You can totally do this. You can even buy pre-chopped ingredients if you need to.

Rinse your beans. You should ALWAYS rinse canned beans. It helps decrease the sodium by like 50% or something, maybe more. Plus, that bean juice can be kind of gross. Get it off.

Add the onion, red pepper, and celery. Use the leafy green parts of the celery if you have them. They’re good for you.

Add the rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes. It’s not going to be hot, just has a little kick. But if you’re sending this with your kiddo for lunch, you can omit it if you like. Just make sure to adjust the black pepper accordingly.

I use a garlic press to smash my garlic. You can chop it, mash it with a fork, whatever. Just get it into small bits and then grind it with a little salt. Mash it up into a paste and blend it with the oil and red wine vinegar. Pour this over the mixture.

Use a spatula to mix well. Make sure everything gets coated with the red wine vinegar mixture. At this point Mr. Bundt came into the kitchen and said it smelled good and could he have it for breakfast. Um, no. And here’s why. This is one of those salads that needs to sit in the fridge, at least for a few hours. Let it meld. It’s worth the wait, I promise.

It’s soooo good! The creamy chickpeas with the crunchy vegetables is a great combination. A little feta on top might be nice too. Don’t mix it into the whole salad though, crumble a few pieces over your serving before you eat it.

If you love this kind of salad, check out this great quinoa salad here.

What kind of salad do you like? Do you take it for lunch at work or eat it at home?

Veggie Pita With Hummus & Feta

It’s been too long friends! Spring Break hit us over the head, then a few days out of town, plus regular life stuff, and now I’m just getting back up to speed! So sorry for the absence. I brought you a rather wonderful sandwich today, so hopefully you’ll forgive me. Or at least have your mouth so full that you can’t complain.

I love sandwiches. Hot, cold, white bread, buns, whatever. I love them. This pita stuffed with goodness is no different. I’ve eaten this sandwich like it’s my JOB for about the last two months. It’s that good. And it’s meatless. Which is kind of just an added bonus. 

It’s super easy to assemble, I’d recommend doing a lot of chopping at once so you can just pull what you need each day. You’re going to want to eat this all week, so no reason not to.

Ingredients

recipe adapted from Cooking Light

If you have a mandoline type slicer this can go super fast. I have a cheapo one from Crate & Barrel so don’t feel like you have to spend a ton on one. And if you don’t have one at all, that’s cool too. Don’t sweat it.

Thinly slice the radish and cucumber. Chop the red onion into small pieces. I want to take a bite and not have stuff hanging out of my mouth. If you like, add a little lemon zest to the hummus, it adds a nice dimension. Slice your pita in two.

Smear the hummus on the inside of the pita. Add the greens (baby lettuces, spinach, mache, whatever you like), cukes, radishes, and red onion. If you like, a little salt and pepper is also fine. But the feta is salty so you might want to try it without salt first. Then, sprinkle on the feta cheese. Presto! A magic and wonderful little lunch! Of course you could add meat if you like, but it’s perfectly satisfying without it. As the season provides them, I’m sure some tomatoes would also be great tucked inside.

I sliced up a little mango to go along with mine. You can choose whatever your normal lunch accoutrements are. Sweet potato chips are also tasty.

What do you think? Would you give it a try? I could definitely see serving these at a luncheon, they’re easy to make and perfect light eating for spring and summer. You just FEEL healthier eating them.

Do you have a favorite sandwich? Will you eat the same thing over and over, or do you always fix something new?

Working Lunch: Quinoa Salad

A good meeting is one that starts on time and ends at least 30 minutes before you think it will. A great meeting is that plus good food. When I host a meeting, I can’t promise that it will end early, but I can assure you there will be good food. It’s been hot here, I think I may have mentioned that a time or ten. So I wanted a light lunch but I also needed something I could make ahead and serve up without a lot of work.

I also needed to serve up a gluten-free option. Since no one in my house has any dietary sensitivities, I’ll admit I don’t think much about these kinds of things. We eat pretty healthy most of the time, but I had been looking for some new options with quinoa anyway and this was a great opportunity to try something new. I should caution you though, normally I wouldn’t serve a new, untested recipe as such a major part of a meal. Since I was making the salad ahead, I felt like I had enough time to whip out something else if this didn’t work.

My menu:

  • Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets – pounded and reserved for last minute frying
  • Quinoa Salad – made ahead
  • Lemon Almond Tart – made ahead

I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, so I pounded them flat and used a standard recipe for Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets. I started these about 20 minutes before I expected my colleagues. In that time I could fry up three cutlets, tent them with foil, and clean up the pan before anyone arrived. I make chicken cutlets all the time so I won’t bore you with the details. You can check out one of my favorite recipes for Crispy Parmesan Chicken from Cook’s Country.

I had some quinoa in the pantry waiting on me to do something with it. And this gluten-free meal was the perfect opportunity. So I trolled the interwebs for a few minutes before deciding on this Quinoa Salad recipe from the Food Network. It was light, cold, and had lots of things in it that I like to eat. It sounded like, with the chicken, it would be a full meal. Plus, it made a lot! Leftovers were a bonus! I made the salad the day before, but didn’t add the tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes, the only decent thing you can get before June) and the avocados until I was ready to serve.

Quinoa Salad

Recipe adapted from Food Network

  • 12 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 container of grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 bunches mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced, for garnish

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa, stir once, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, over medium heat for 12 minutes. Strain and rinse well with cold water, shaking the sieve well to remove all moisture.

When dry, transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, onion, parsley, mint, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss well. Top with avocado and halved grape tomatoes, and serve. Garnish with parsley or mint.

This isn’t really cooking. It’s assembling. Anyone can do it. And quinoa is cute and hairy, so give it a whirl!

Then stick it in the fridge overnight. It lets the flavors absorb and makes it nice and cold.

Plate it up on a nice platter, spreading the tomato halves and avocado slices over the top. I stuck a bunch of mint on top for garnish. Pretty AND tasty!

It is such a good salad! And my colleagues loved the lunch. Check out the dessert portion of the meal on Wednesday!

Have you tried quinoa? Do you have a favorite recipe? I think I’ll try it for breakfast next!