Recipe: ‘Weekday Vegetarians’ crispy Chickpea Caesar Salad

Peninsula Premier Admin

This full-meal salad convinced a chicken Caesar-loving teenager that she could be a vegetarian.  The recipe, from her mom and Dinner: A Love Story creator Jenny Rosenstrach’s new cookbook, “The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), swaps out chicken for spicy, crispy chickpeas, which can be roasted in the oven, fried in a pan or, in a pinch, store-bought.

In fact, the entire recipe can be as simple or complicated as you have time for, Rosentrach says. Use store-bought croutons instead of making the hand-torn version. But do try the method of basting and broiling the romaine hearts, which elevates flavorless romaine in the fall and winter. No matter what, serve with a softly boiled egg and grated parmesan for a perfect meal.

Chickpea Caesar Salad

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 heads romaine lettuce, torn or chopped into 1-inch pieces

2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced

2 tablespoons finely minced red onion or scallions (white and light green parts only)

3 cups Crispy Chickpeas (see below)

Caesar Dressing (see below)

1 cup Hand-Torn Croutons (see below)

Garnish: Softly boiled eggs, Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

Combine the romaine, tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, dressing and croutons in a giant salad bowl and serve topped with egg halves and grated or shaved Parmesan.

The broiled romaine version of Jenny Rosenstrach’s Chickpea Caesar Salad elevates the lettuce, which is basted with homemade dressing. (Christine Han)

Alternate method:

Broiled Caesar Salad with Chickpeas: Arrange an oven rack in the top position and preheat the broiler. Place 8 romaine halves (cut lengthwise from 4 romaine hearts, with the main stem intact), cut-side up, on a sheet pan. Brush each one generously with a few swipes of Caesar Dressing and sprinkle with a little Parmesan. Broil until the tops look shriveled and browned but not burned, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the romaine to a platter. Top with your crispy chickpeas, red onion and fresh herbs, such as dill, and drizzle everything with more dressing.

Crispy Chickpeas

Makes 3 cups

Here are two methods for making crispy chickpeas. No matter which you use, be sure to dry the rinsed and drained chickpeas on paper towels or a kitchen towel as much as possible before cooking them. For maximum crispiness, eat the chickpeas within a few hours of making them, optimally right away.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans, rinsed, drained and dried

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional spice mixture: ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

ROASTING METHOD

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil.

Toss the oil and chickpeas together on the prepared sheet pan. (I use my hands to make sure they are all evenly coated.) Roast for 30 minutes, until the chickpeas are crispy.

Make the spice mixture, if using, by combining the paprika, garlic powder and cayenne in a small bowl.

Transfer the chickpeas to a paper towel-lined bowl and lightly blot any excess oil. Slip the paper towel out of the bowl, then toss the hot, crispy chickpeas with a few pinches of salt, black pepper and the spice mixture.

FRYING METHOD

Add the oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. (The pan should be large enough to hold the chickpeas in a single layer; otherwise cook in batches.) When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chickpeas. Fry for 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly shriveled and crispy looking, tossing with a slotted spoon every 5 minutes. (Resist the urge to stir; let them sit and get crispy.) Using the slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to a paper towel-lined platter to briefly drain; transfer them to a bowl and toss with the salt, black pepper and spice mixture.

CAESAR DRESSING

Makes 2/3 cup

INGREDIENTS

1 small garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and mayonnaise until smooth. Add the Parmesan and give the dressing a few pulses just to incorporate the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Hand-Torn Croutons

Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

4 cups roughly torn (1-inch) stale bread pieces (any kind, including crusts)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil.

In a large bowl, toss the bread pieces with the garlic powder and salt. Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bread, not drench it. Spread the croutons out on the prepared sheet pan and bake until crunchy and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool before using.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Jenny Rosenstrach, “The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat” (Clarkson Potter, $32.50) 

Contributed by local news sources

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