Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Chickpeas

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Feta

I could cook pasta every night of the week and make everyone happy. But at the same time I like to make a meal that falls under my definition of “healthy” and “delicious”.

Orzo is familiar as a side dish or floating in soup, but I find that toasting it first and mixing it with lots of vegetables makes it ten times more complex and interesting.

I’ve played on the Greek heritage of orzo in this recipe and borrowed from the Mediterranean pantry by using chickpeas, cumin, lemon and tangy feta cheese. I would serve this on a pile of arugula and call it lunch or dinner.

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Chickpeas

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup orzo pasta
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  9. 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  10. ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  11. 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  12. 1/2 cup chopped seedless or Persian cucumber
  13. Baby arugula greens

Instructions

  1. Warm a dry 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add the orzo and toast until golden brown and nutty-smelling, about 10 minutes, tossing the pan frequently. Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. Bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil and cook the orzo until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl along with the butter, stirring until butter melts completely.
  3. Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper; pour over the orzo. Add the chickpeas, pine nuts, dill and cucumber to the bowl and gently toss together. Top with the cheese and serve over the arugula.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/05/toasted-orzo-salad-with-lemon-and-chickpeas/

Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Somewhere along the line I got into a habit of eating my daily greens, and by daily I mean All Day, even starting at breakfast with a little pile of leafy greens near, under or around my poached egg. Sometimes it’s baby arugula or maybe washed salad greens leftover from dinner the night before.

I have a favorite method of quickly cooking my greens Italian-style, but this here kale salad might be my favorite way to eat them just plain raw. It’s easy to put together and the sturdy kale leaves hold up so well with the lemony-Parmesan dressing you could even make it hours ahead of time with no fear of a wilted soggy salad – in fact, it only improves matters.

You’ll probably love the roasted chickpeas as much as I do – they garnish the salad very nicely but become an addictive (and yes, healthy) little snack all by themselves.

If you can’t find Tuscan kale – which is also called Lacinato, cavolo nero, black or Dinosaur kale – regular curly kale will do.

Tuscan kale with roasted chickpeas

Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Yield: 4 servings, or one salad for 1 hungry person

Ingredients

  1. 1 can chickpeas, drained
  2. 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton)
  3. Kosher salt
  4. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 1 big lemon, zested and juiced
  6. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  7. 1 small garlic clove, smashed and chopped
  8. Pinch Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
  9. 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems trimmed and washed

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the chickpeas on a small rimmed baking sheet with the Pimenton, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast the chickpeas for 10 - 12 minutes - they should smell good and become a little bit crunchy.
  3. Whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the lemon zest and juice, cheese, garlic and red pepper. Taste and season with a pinch of salt if you think it needs some.
  4. Roughly tear the kale leaves into pieces and blot with a clean towel if they're dripping wet; put into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss the leaves with your hands so that they're evenly coated - your hands will taste yummy.
  5. Serve the salad with some of the chickpeas spooned over the top and sprinkled with curls of Parmesan, if you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/02/tuscan-kale-salad-with-roasted-chickpeas/

Cashew Chicken with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Gathering the Garbanzos

Last week, I noticed a food-blogging phenomenon that I don’t have a name for. It’s probably been described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book about social trends, The Tipping Point, but I can’t recall what term he has for it. It’s that thing where one day, it seems you see the same recipe, idea, color or low-rise jean style right in front of you, everywhere you look.

Since I can’t enlighten you further, I’ll name this particular incidence the Convergence of Chickpeas:

1. Alanna at A Veggie Venture writes about an easy garbanzo supper.
2. Lydia at The Perfect Pantry displays an essential pantry staple.
3. Lisa at Champaign Taste made a beautiful Italian-style soup.
4. Molly at Orangette describes a loving lunch gift.

Because chickpeas are one of my personal “soul” foods, I have a special place for them in my foodie heart.

I love that you can buy them in a can, drain and eat as they are or embellish them in any number of tasty exotic ways. Also, that they can inspire a whole meal, and the simpler the better. I love boldly spiced dishes like this quick cashew chicken.

It’s another convergence of sorts – Bangkok meets Bangalore.

Cashew Chicken with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas
for 4 servings

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews, chopped
3 cups cooked rice

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the chickpeas on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the oil, salt, curry powder, cumin and cayenne. Roast for 25 minutes.

Heat a non-stick wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until smoking. Toss in the chicken and cook, stirring, until surfaces are seared, but interior is still pink. Stir in the shallots and cook until softened, 1-2 minutes.

Add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce to the chicken and stir. Cook a few more minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir in the chickpeas, spinach and cashews. Serve in bowls with hot cooked rice.

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