Friday recipe: chickpea and roasted red pepper salad

Chickpea salad
This salad is a treat to the eyes as well as the taste buds.

I’ve blogged before about DMU’s excellent and highly popular Nutrition 101 cooking elective and the ways it teaches students to prepare meals that are healthy, affordable and relatively easy. That’s important for their careers as well as their stomachs: Despite the huge role diet plays in one’s health, the American Medical Association says few medical schools offer classes that give future physicians hands-on healthy cooking skills. Students in the DMU class, however, say they’ll be better equipped to advise patients about improving their diets in ways that are practical, doable and delicious.

“We can do so much for our health with relatively minor changes, like introducing healthy foods that will push out some of the bad stuff,” says David Spreadbury, Ph.D., chair of biochemistry and nutrition and one of the course’s instructors. “Equally important is how it all tastes. You can come up with the healthiest diet in the world, but no one will eat it if it doesn’t taste good.”

I recently sat in on the course’s Indian night, which assuredly tasted very good. Dr. Spreadbury, Joy Schiller, M.S., CHES, DMU’s wellness director, and wellness staff members Nicole Frangopol and Missy Gripp demonstrated to students how to assemble a sumptuous feast including chai tea, achari sabzi, chicken curry, chickpea curry, dal, basmati whole-grain rice and, for dessert, bananas flambé and dark chocolate.

As the mouth-watering aromas intensified, we all could relate to one of Dr. Spreadbury’s memories of growing up in London. “An Indian family lived in the house next door. There would be all these wonderful aromas wafting over the fence,” he said. “I’d stand there with my nose hanging over their backyard.”

Today’s recipe is as tantalizing to the eyes as it is to the taste buds (thanks to DMU student Sheena Agarwal for sharing the photo). While it may appear to have lots of ingredients, you can make the vinaigrette, roasted red peppers and hard-boiled egg in advance and keep them in the fridge, and then toss them with the other ingredients when you’re ready to dine.

Chickpea and roasted red pepper salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (home-cooked or canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (see below)
  • 1/3 cup rinsed capers
  • Chopped green olives, hard-boiled egg and/or cilantro as garnish, to taste

Vinaigrette (you’ll have some left over):

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Make the vinaigrette; refrigerate if you’re not making the salad right away.

If you’re home-cooking dried chickpeas, soak them overnight. Rinse well. Place in a large saucepan, cover with water and add the onion, bay leaves and whole garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer approximately 40 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Drain beans and remove bay leaves, onion and garlic. Rinse with cold water.

To roast the peppers, set oven to 400 degrees. Slice peppers to remove the inner membranes so the peppers lie flat. Lightly brush with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove skins when cool; dice.

Combine the chickpeas, peppers and capers. Toss with desired amount of vinaigrette. Enjoy as is or over greens with desired garnishes. 

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