Weekday Chickpea Super Salad

Weekday Chickpea Super Salad

What about a quick nourishing meal that doesn’t take time or effort to make? Or cost the earth? This dish is one of my all time favourites. If it wasn’t for the simple fact that my body seem to crave the odd bit of meat, I could easily and happily eat this kind of food everyday. One of the main challenges when you switch from a diet heavily influenced by convenience food to natural wholesome goodness, is that it actually has to be prepared and cooked… In the beginning this seems like such hard work.

You come home from work after a long day at work. Bloodsugar levels are at an all time low, your mood and energy levels likewise, and you are ready to eat anything that is remotely edible. Or if you’re like me, eat the head of someone else!

Being prepared is key. There is no getting away from this simple fact. You also need to arm yourself with some basic kitchen gadgets and cooking skills. But basic really is all you need. Think; a good sharp knife, a couple of good sauce pans, a frying pan and a hand blender. I’m a lazy cook. I always tell my clients this fact. If I can do it. You can too. Cook, well more like assembly, tasty nourishing meals.

I always loved vegetables and fruit. Due to my inherent sweet tooth, the fruit consumption can often surpass the veggie one though. So it can be tough to get all the recommended amount of portions in. The other day my friend told me that WHO is now recommending 17 (!) portions of vegetables incl. some fruit for our diets to be disease preventable. Wow. That’s a lot of eating… To get to that level, juicing will have to be part of it. Impossible otherwise I would think.

Spelt grains

 

Believe it or not, there was a time when I use to come home from work, open the fridge or the pantry and stare at all the lovely stuff, ravenous, just to state the fact that I had plenty of food. But it had to be cooked into something! These days through perseverance, I have learnt some simple ways around this frustrating situation. No, the answer it is not having a frozen pizza in the freezer. Even though it was one of mine in the past… It’s all about being prepared. And having a little knowledge. Batch cooking is key. For cheap, wholesome meals, legumes are your friend. Keep a few tins in your store cupboards at all times and you are ready to go in minutes. If you cook them from dry, you can cook larger batches and freeze some. The same with wholegrain rice or wholegrain spelt which I have used here. Your cooked grains and legumes will keep for a few days in the fridge too, so no panic if your freezer is very small, or non existent.

I prefer warm food when the weather is cold. So if I have a raw salad I need to combine it with something warm. Sometimes that could be roasted veg with some green leafy lettuce leaves. Or it could be a mixed salad with an omelette. Equally simple. If you have some pre-cooked grains in your fridge or freezer, coupled with some legumes all you need to do is to toss them in a hot pan with some of your favourite vegetables. Simple as, and you have a wholesome meal in minutes! If you make enough, you can even enjoy the leftovers for lunch the following day.

 

KaleChickpeas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whole grains are a great source of stress-busting B-Vitamins. When the grain is consumed whole and totally unrefined as with these spelt grains, they are actually fairly high in protein too. Sometimes even as high as 16%. Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant based protein too. The classic vegetarian way of combining grains with pulses, ensure that all 20 amino acids are covered. The few which are missing in the grain is in abundance in your pulses, so cleverly you will get a complete source of protein.

You can use any grains with any pulses really. Once you have upped your kitchen confidence, then stretch your imagination and use a different kind of grain with a different kind of bean or lentil. And then simply toss in any veg, which is lurking in your fridge! Heat in pan, season & tuck in!

 

Weekday Chickpea Salad

Serves 2

1 cup of chickpeas, cooked

1 cup of spelt grains, cooked

3 cups of kale, washed, chopped with stems removed

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small red chilli, chopped – remove seeds if you want it less hot or use a pinch of dry chilli flakes

7-8 cherry tomatoes, washed & halved – Optional but delicious  **I forgot to add mine this time when making it for the photographs!**

Olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to season

Parmesan, Pecorino or Machego, grated on top before serving

Heat your pan, then add the a good splash of olive oil. Quickly add your chopped garlic and chilli. Stir until soften but not burnt. Add in the kale and sauté until it start looking slightly wilted. Add your chickpeas and spelt grains. Keep stirring until heated through. 

Serve in two bowls with some grated cheese on top. If you intend to have some cold the following day, leave the cheese out and add just before eating. The cheese isn’t integral to the dish but do give a different flavour dimension. I don’t tend to feel well with dairy but can tolerate sheep’s cheese so hence the Pecorino or Manchego.

 

Chickpea saladChickpea Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kale Salad with an Orange-Tahini Dressing

Kale Salad with an Orange-Tahini Dressing

Kale is one of those super foods. Not as fancy as inca berries or maca or something else that we may get from the South American continent. The mighty kale may actually just travel as far as from your back garden to your plate. It is a perfect vegetable for winter salads a its peak season is from November until March. I have to admit that I had never really had kale until about this time last year… My local vegetable grower, from whom we get a weekly box of goodies, had some so I thought, well I it’s about time I try this famous leafy green.

To be honest, I can’t actually remember what I did with it… But what I do remember is the beautiful creation me and my mum came up with for Christmas. My mum wanted some green additions to the otherwise meaty Christmas table and even though I had already done some research for suggestions, when I spotted some lovely kale in the supermarket we got it. I also picked up a pomegranate. Together with a few pantry staples and a crispy winter apple we ended up with such a fresh, raw, colourful, yet green salad. Perfect accompaniment to the Christmas ham. It was just great to have something raw as balance to all the cooked (mostly meat) dishes.

Kale, in this case curly kale, can be used in a variety of dishes. It has a subtle flavour and is a nice leafy green to use in smoothies. It can be cooked, steamed or sautéed.  For me it is the perfect green to use in salads during the winter months, when other raw leaves are not readily available.

Kale is considered a super foods due to its high nutritional content. Kale is part of the Brassica family, the same as brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. The members of the Brassica family are all high in the cancer protective phytochemical indol-3-carbinol. Kale is also a rich source of Vitamin A, K and C. It is rich in calcium and iron making it a good vegetable to eat for anyone suffering with osteoporosis. And the best thing of all, you don’t have to get it flown across the world to get access to its super powers. Chances are you can easily grow it in your own garden patch.

2013-09-01 15.48.15

The picture above is from the beautiful glass houses in Ballymaloe Cookery School. I believe Darina Allen is a big fan. I was visiting the school with two of my friends, Caroline and Mary, on a beautiful autumn Sunday back in September. It was still so warm and summery and winter yet so far away. But now winter is finally here and the “C-word” is being talked about everywhere. Actually, I just caved in the other day and bought most of my Christmas presents. Organised. Well at least in this area…

I was invited over to Caroline and Mary’s house for Sunday dinner the other week, quiet a regular occurrence. This is the salad I brought with me. It is light and fresh and full of flavour. I think the orange-tahini dressing adds to the wintry feel of this dish. This is the perfect way to eat your greens even during the winter months, so tuck in!

 

2013-10-22 13.31.04 - Kopia

Kale Salad With Orange – Tahini Dressing

Serves 2

Four large leaves of curly kale

A handful of purple grapes

1/2 pomegranate – de-seeded

For the dressing:

2 tbsp of olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1/2 orange

Zest of one orange

2 tbsp tahinisesame paste

A pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper – to season

Toasted seeds – as topping for extra crunch

Wash the kale thoroughly to remove any dirt on the leaves. Cut off the thick stems. Finely chop the kale once you have removed the stems. Cut it fairly fine to make it more digestible.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Taste and season accordingly with sea salt and black pepper.  Pour the dressing over the chopped kale and mix it in well with your hands. The dressing will, as well as add flavour make the raw kale easier to digest and less chewy. Wash and halve the grapes. De-seed the pomegranate. The easiest way to do this it to halve it and then quarter it. Then proceed to peel the seeds out. If it is a particularly juicy one you can do it in a large bowl of water to prevent any splatter and little pink dots all over your favourite jumper… Add the grapes and pomegranate seeds to the dressed kale. 

You can add some toasted seeds as topping for some extra crunch, just before serving. This salad will work well with white fish, as a side to a vegetarian meal with whole grains or as I did with a boiled egg and some smoked organic salmon, for a quick, easy lunch.

Your salad will stay fresh for up to three days if kept in an airtight container in the fridge. 

 

2013-10-22 14.02.45 - Kopia

2013-10-22 14.05.41