Kale Caesar with Crispy Spiced Chickpeas

  Meatless Monday is more than just a food trend, it's a global campaign founded in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  The goal of Meatless Monday is to improve public health by making it easier to choose meatless and vegetarian dishes. According to Meatless Monday's global toolkit,

"Meatless Monday seeks to reduce the prevalence of preventable illnesses and environmental impacts associated with meat production and excessive meat consumption".

  Although Meatless Monday originated in 2003, I didn't hear of it until 2009 when Paul McCartney introduced the idea in the UK.  At this time I was still a graduate student and the thought of being a dietitian had not yet entered my mind, but I had an interest in nutrition and reducing my environmental impact. I loved the idea of doing one day a week meat-free, but I decided to adapt the concept and make it my own. Instead of skipping meat one day a week, I decided to only eat meat at one meal a day (mostly dinner), and Erin's Meatless Lunches were born. I have been eating vegetarian at breakfast and lunch fairly consistently since about 2011.

  Disclaimer: My personal version of vegetarian (at two meals per day) includes dairy and eggs, but no meat products. If you choose to avoid dairy, or eggs, or both, that's cool too.  Also, I do try to live by the principles of intuitive eating, so if it's lunchtime and I'm really craving a hamburger, I'll go for it without guilt.

  Below is a truly delicious vegetarian (with dairy) salad recipe that will leave you feeling satisfied. The dressing is zippy and tangy. The chickpeas are crunchy with a hint of spice. And the salad is packed with flavour, fibre, and protein, so it will keep you motoring through the afternoon.

  Give it up for a salad that will take you from Meatless Monday through to Friday. Let me know what you think! 

Ingredients & Directions

For the chickpeas:

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, OR 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked until soft

2 tbsp olive oil (avocado oil would work nicely too)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

 

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drain and dry chickpeas well. You can dry them out by laying them out on a clean dishtowel, or I just let them drain in a colander for about 30 minutes, shaking occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with the chickpeas, and mix well until combined, adding more oil if necessary. The chickpeas should be evenly coated in spices, and slightly shiny.

Spread chickpeas evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until dark-golden brown, about one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so.  Allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For the dressing:

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 small clove garlic, crushed or finely minced

1/2 tsp dried oregano

3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp honey

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a medium jar or container, mix all ingredients well. Store in refrigerator. Will keep for up to two weeks.

For the salad:

1 large bunch of kale, washed, stemmed, and torn into small pieces

Combine kale with enough salad dressing to evenly coat it. The salad is best if it is dressed at least 30 minutes in advance, as it allows the kale to tenderize a bit. Add chickpeas immediately before serving. Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Make in advance:

Portion kale into four medium containers (about 1 - 1 1/2 cups per container), and refrigerate.

Portion chickpeas into four small containers (about 1/2 cup per container).

In the morning, add salad dressing to kale and mix well. Add chickpeas right before eating.