Chickpea and Butternut Squash Salad

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I have a hard time with chickpeas. You know, the little round beans you get out of a can? They taste like nothing? Sometimes you throw them on a salad, then wonder how they got there? Those. Something about the texture has never particularly appealed to me, and since they don’t really add much flavor to anything, I’ve pretty much avoided them outside of hummus.

But we’re on a budget at our house, a tighter one as we revamp our savings and pay for a wedding. That means we’re cutting down on the amount of meat we eat while still looking for healthy, hearty meals that taste amazing. Not too tall of an order, right?

Thankfully, Food52 came to the rescue with this filling vegan chickpea salad. Since I had some time over the weekend, I decided to soak and cook my own beans, a three-hour process that actually did result in a tastier pea. I suspect you could do this in the slow cooker, but I just did it on a weekend, keeping the pot boiling in the background while I worked on a few other recipes. The peas kept in the fridge for a day or two, making it easy to throw this salad together on a Tuesday night.

Guys, it’s enough to change my mind about this humble legume. The tahini dressing is mind-blowingly good, evoking some of the flavors of hummus while taking it to another level. Though the chickpeas aren’t terribly flavorful, they are filling, adding heft to the sweet roasted butternut squash and biting onions. The dish is creamy without any dairy, filing enough to be dinner, and completely free of anything you could even start to feel guilty about.

If you like, try soaking or sauteing the onion before adding it to the salad to cut down on the bite. You can also try roasting the chickpeas with the squash to add a little more flavor, but you do run the risk of overcooking them. Experiment at your own risk, I guess!

Warm Chickpea and Squash Salad
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 14 ounces canned or home-cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoons water, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss the squash with the garlic, allspice, olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Place on a tray, optionally lined with parchment, in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  3. While the squash is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix the crushed garlic with lemon juice and add the tahini. Now thin with the water and olive oil, and check for seasoning. You should taste a balance between the nutty tahini and lemon.
  4. To assemble the salad, place the squash, chickpeas, red onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Pour on the tahini sauce and remaining oil and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper.
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