Making meals for a family of six everyday can sometimes take its toll on me. It’s a lot. I think we all feel that way. One of my good friends and I were laughing the other day about how our kids expect to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner….EVERY DAY!! Six days a week I guess isn’t enough, they want all seven 😉
That alone is a feat in and off itself. But than you add in trying to make everyone happy, and eating HEALTHY and it’s enough to drive you bonkers. Just trying to come up with what to make is exhausting, let alone cooking it.
That’s why staying inspired and excited in the kitchen is so important. Having fun in the kitchen (and not taking it too seriously) is the only way you’ll keep coming back and not get burned out.
For me, that means having a wide variety of dishes in my back pocket that I can play around with. Things that you know work well together, but can be varied or played around with based on your mood.
Salads are one of my favorite dishes to play around with. Whether it’s adding in different grains, proteins, or in this case crispy chickpeas. You can pull inspiration from anywhere and create something new each time.
My inspiration for this salad are of course the crispy chickpeas. Lightly crunchy on the outside, still creamy and tender on the inside and covered in cumin and smoky paprika. They’re great for just snaking, but the perfect addition to a salad.
Now I am not normally a huge lover of kale salads. I feel like they can be a little too bitter and tough at times. Kale needs a lot of love to bring out it’s best features. Which means a good massage with a little oil (….this trick also works on cranky mommas). Before dressing the salad I add a few squeezes of lemon, a swirl of olive oil and then massage away. Then I let the greens just sit and do their thing while I prep the rest of the salad. After about 15-20 minutes they seem much happier….which makes me happier too.
For some extra flavor and texture I added some nutty cooked farro. Adding different grains to your salad is a great way to add nutrition, and play with texture. Especially when pairing with a green like kale, it’s heartier leaves hold up great with dense grains like faro. You could also add quinoa, barley or brown rice. I just sprinkled a little right on top of the greens.
And then of course then we can’t forget that creamy garlic dressing. What is it about garlic that I just can’t get enough, especially during these winter months. I’m adding it to everything these days. This dressing is great for any salad. A few cloves of garlic, an egg yolk, a squeeze of lemon juice all combined in a blender with a little olive oil. It’s bright, bold and holds up great with these dark greens and spicy chickpeas.
I hope that something in this dish inspired you to get in your own kitchen today. Even if you never make this salad, maybe give the chickpeas a try, or the garlic dressing for your next salad. Either way I hope this got your creative juices going and you get in your kitchen and have some fun. After all, that’s what cooking is all about.
- 1 bunch of curly kale (or you could also use lacianto if you prefer)
- 1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup of cooked farro (cook according to package)
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1½ lemons
- 4-6 cloves of garlic
- 1 egg
- 6 tbsp of olive oil
- ½ tsp of cumin
- ½ tsp of chili powder
- 1 tsp of smoked paprika
- ½ tsp of salt
- ¼ tsp of red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Dry chickpeas with a paper towel (or dish towel) until completely dry. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt. Stir together. Drizzle chickpeas with 1 tbsp of olive oil and spice mixture. Toss to make sure evenly coated. Place in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove when chickpeas are nicely browned and have a nice crunch (be careful not to overcook). Set aside
- Meanwhile, rinse, dry and chop kale into small pieces. Place in serving bowl and drizzle one tbsp of olive oil and ½ of a lemon. Gently "massage" kale for a minute. Set kale aside and allow it to become tender for about 15 minutes while you make the dressing and finish cooking chickpeas
- for the dressing, place 4-6 cloves of garlic (I like a lot of garlic, but adjust to your taste), the yolk of one egg, salt/pepper, and the juice of one lemon in a high-speed blender. Begin blending on low speed. After about 15 seconds, begin to drizzle in about 4 tbsp of olive oil. Continue to blend until combined (about another 15 seconds). Taste and adjust seasoning and/or add additional olive oil if the dressing seems to "thick".
- To build the salad. In the serving bowl with the marinated kale, sprinkle ½ cup of farro over greens as well as sliced tomatoes, next drizzle on the dressing and then top with the crispy chickpeas. Garnish a few red pepper flakes for added heat and enjoy!