There are just times in your life when you go on a salad kick. I’m on one of those right now, and truth be told, it’s the kickin’est salad kick I’ve ever been on. It’s lasted a few weeks now and shows no sign of letting up.
I guess I shouldn’t make it sound as though every day I make myself lunch and find myself looking down at my plate saying “Oh, look, salad again! I really can’t seem to get out of this rut.” In actuality, I’m making a conscious choice to eat salad every day. Part of it is a desire to get rid of some seminary squishiness which has found its way onto my body via hundreds of nights sitting like a lump for hours, memorizing flashcards or writing papers. Part of it is just because salad is awesome. But it is intentional. I’ve made it my new “thing” — and everyone should treat themselves to a new “thing” once in a while — to have salad once a day. I’ll tell you one thing, it makes figuring out what I’m going to eat on a given day so much easier.
It also forces me to think of new and cool things that would look good lounging on a bed of greens, because as much as I could eat a salad of spring greens, dried cherries, walnuts, goat cheese and a lemony vinaigrette EVERY SINGLE DAY, I just have to branch out. For myself. For posterity. So I won’t get bored. Well actually …………. no, it’s simply because I’ve eaten all the goat cheese and it’s all gone and I’m very sad about it. (Just being honest here… the only really valid reason not to eat goat cheese is that there is no goat cheese.)
So here, in the category of “salad topper / goat cheese replacement” is a pretty tasty idea … roasted chickpeas. It certainly is not original. I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen (which these days, with her cookbook on my shelf, I almost always am). Roasting chickpeas is a cool idea because you only ever eat chickpeas in hummus, right? When was the last time you ate a chickpea that wasn’t all pureed and tahini’d up? I know right? It’s always nice to see an ingredient in a different light … especially when it is almost always eaten the same way. Also, chickpeas take well to roasting. They get crisp on the outside while staying soft inside, and they pick up spices like little sponges. Crunchy ones. They’re sort of like bean croutons. Yeah, that has a definite ring to it …… not. (Although, Tom Haverford at least might go for this nomenclature.)
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas*
1 Tblsp olive oil
Coarse-ground salt and pepper
A dash each of cumin, garlic, and/or any other spices you prefer (Indian ones would be great)
A little fresh squeezed lemon juice (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain and rinse chickpeas, and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Spread out on a pan. Add olive oil and toss to coat. Then add the salt, pepper and spices — as much as you like.
Roast for 10-15 minutes, turning the chickpeas once halfway through the cooking time, until crisp and golden. You’ll definitely need to taste-test them to tell if they’ve reached your preferred level of crispiness. But once they’re there …. well, you’ll just know. Remove from the oven and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over them. Eat as a snack or toss ’em on a salad. Enjoy!
*Or garbanzo beans; both names refer to the same thing. I just prefer to say chickpeas, because if I say garbanzo beans, I can’t help but stretch it out so it sounds like “gaaarrrbaaaaaaannnnzooooo beeeeaaanzzzzz.” It’s just that kind of word. So, unless you enjoy being stared at in the grocery store, better to stick with “chickpeas.” It’s safer that way.