Thursday, 19 March 2009

Warm chickpea and broccoli salad with toasted almonds

Tonight I made myself a warm salad. To be honest, calling it a salad would be slightly misdirected as I think it is more a stir-fry with one unlikely candidate as the protein component - chickpeas (NB I added a few shelled prawns just because I had them - of course, you can omit them should you wish to keep this dish vegetarian).

This is an incredibly fast, substantial and cheap meal to prepare and it really does cover all the required food groups. Here, I have opted for piquant Asian flavours: lime, fish sauce (which you can replace with soy sauce for a vegan/vegetarian alternative), garlic, chilli and fresh coriander. In hindsight, I could have added some coconut cream and leftover curry paste to the pan as well and I would have a quick vegetable curry. I was searching for something crunchy and salty to add to my salad - like bacon bits. But I don't eat pork. I suspect if you enjoy bits of salty pork, you could saute some pancetta in the pan before adding the rest of the ingredients and it would be quite tasty. In the end, toasted flaked almonds played the role of "salty pork bits" for me.

Whatever direction you wish to take this dish is entirely up to you. I have a can of butter beans and lentils sitting in my cupboard, so next time I might use those in place of chickpeas. Grains and pulses tend to be neglected in most of our diets but they are an excellent and cheap source of protein. The added bonus is they are also high in dietary fibre - which commonly lacks in our contemporary diet.

Chickpea and broccoli salad
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
1 chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 lime/lemon, juiced
peanut oil
fish sauce (vego alternative: soy sauce)
handful of flaked almonds, toasted in a pan
heat pan or wok and add peanut oil
saute chopped chilli and garlic until fragrant then add chickpeas
add soy/fish sauce and juice to the pan (it should sizzle)
add broccoli florets and 1/4 cup of water
place lid over pan allowing the steam to cook the broccoli - this takes about a minute or two
remove from heat and place in bowl
scatter flaked almonds and chopped coriander on top of salad

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