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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hearty “Everyday” Chickpea Salad


I have gained weight and have a little belly which is unacceptable to me! Rich or poor I have always been thin DAMMIT, so why is it every time I am in a relationship I gain 10-15 pounds...Ugggg! I am attributing this to the “Freshman 15”  with a slight variation of a new relationship vs. college. Most associate the term "Freshman 15" with the phenomenon of how college students gain weight their first semester attending a college or university. College freshmen seem to be the most susceptible to gaining weight their first semester (or year) at college, mostly attributed to a severe lifestyle change. While my collage days are long behind me (we won’t go into how long, LOL). I know I have gone through a very severe lifestyle change (for the better). Before meeting S, I was a retired “club/party girl” and single for many years, living the life of a starving artist creating and designing jewelry for several years since I gave up my day job (catering sales manager) . I pretty much ate and slept when I wanted to and only when my body demanded it. I met S and moved to Vietnam to be with him and now we live in France. I LOVE food (actually we both do) and experiencing all the different foods during our travels (Vietnam, Singapore, Bangkok & Paris), not having to work, having the money to really cook  nice dinners again, being rather isolated due to language barriers and therefore marking the time of day with meals and  a more regular sleep schedule; I realized just how out of control this has gotten when S jokingly said I looked a little pregnant. So I am starting a new diet regimen of fresh veggies, whole grains and lean meats. We just walked (burn those calories!) back from the green market (beautiful fresh veggies) and a local Lebanese grocery (dried beans, bulgur and brown rice) and now I am now planning what to do with the treasures we purchased.
Our dinner tonight will be this “Everyday Chickpea Salad” recipe I got from Shutterbean, one of the blogs I am following They in turn adapted it from  Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Moskowitz.  One of the reasons this recipe appealed to me was the fact that no oil is used in the dressing. I have no issue with olive oil but using cashews as a substitute intrigued me and it turns out the oil is not even missed. The other attraction to this recipe is that this seemed like a guilt free “hearty” salad that would fill you up without the eggs, cheese or meat I would normally associate with a "dinner" salad. Diets make me grouchy (just ask S!) and I am doing this diet without any diet pills or any of my old fallback remedies. So I am happy to say that we just finished dinner and my stomach is full, my taste buds satisfied and I am content.  I made a couple of substitutions to the original recipe based on the seasonal fresh produce that I randomly picked up today at the green market and what was in my cupboard, see notes at bottom.

Hearty “Everyday” Chickpea Salad

Makes 2-3 large dinner size servings
For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup white wine or water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon natural brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the cashew pieces & shallot in a food processor and pulse until totally chopped (chunks are still visible) . Then add the rest of the ingredients. Blend for at least 5 minutes, and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula. Now blend until completely smooth.
For the salad:
  • 1 cup Fine Bulgur cooked & cooled
  • 1-2 large green onion (including green part), thinly chopped
  • 1-15oz. can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 pepper, sliced (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 green)
  • several cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 cups mixed mache & roquette lettuce (Mache is otherwise known as Lamb’s lettuce or Corn lettuce and Roquette is Arugula)
In a large mixing bowl, mix all but the greens together. Add the dressing (reserve a bit for the greens later) and toss to coat. Keep chilled in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days. I tossed the greens with the reserved dressing and then added to the rest right before serving.
My Notes:
-Shutterbean's recipe calls for:
  • Couscous instead of Cracked Bulgur
  • Spinach instead of Mixed Greens
  • Shallots instead of Spring Onions
  • Water instead of White Wine.
  • Agave nectar vs. natural brown sugar ( gee, I was fresh out of Agave LOL…but really many Vegan’s use this as a sugar substitute)
  • Original recipe included cucumber and a couple fat cherry tomatoes  that were sitting in my veggie drawer was my addition.
-Shutterbean suggests other possible fixins: avocado, sprouts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, roasted bell pepper, artichoke hearts...whatever your heart desires!

ROCK ON! by Phoenix Design Jewelry