Chickpea, Red Bean and Herb Salad




Our friend the chickpea (which also goes by the name ‘garbanzo bean’) has gained new levels of popularity in recent years, a testament to its survival as a desired legume for centuries. Its application far exceeds its reputation of being useful in just making hummus and is found in entrees often in the form of purees, in salads, in healthy snacks and — I just found this out — even in desserts. Apparently there is a Filipino dessert called Halo-halo which features this pea — I so have to try that! 

Whenever I go shopping at Whole Foods, I always have to make a stop at their salad bar to pick up their variation of this salad. It’s a great healthy pick-me-up and is equally gorgeous to look at. This same salad is frequently found at Mediterranean restaurants and salad bars and always calls out my name amid a sea of other salads. 

Chickpeas are very high in protein but low in fat and they’re packed with zinc and folate and all sorts of other minerals that are great for your body. This salad is uber refreshing and although there are a fair amount of fresh ingredients, there is not a ton of seasoning so the ingredients really shine in their natural state. I can eat bowlfuls of this at a time. In fact, you can make a meal out of this: Serve it up with a side of grilled chicken and your dinner is sorted. 



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Vegetable and Herb Quinoa

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Alright, so maybe this trendy grain isn’t the most glamorous-looking food but it’s quick, gluten-free, uber healthy and loaded with protein. I’ve been mildly obsessed lately with this curious little grain called ‘quinoa’ so, naturally, I had to share this recipe with you.


So what is quinoa [keen•wah] you ask? For starters, it’s the new kid on the block. It seems to be turning up in recipes everywhere – whether it be served as a salad, or added to a salad, in a stew, as a side dish (in place of rice), or even as part of an entrée. It’s an ancient grain which is nutty in taste with a soft yet slightly crunchy texture. Its flavour is inherently flat with a mild nutty tone, so it begs to be mixed with lots of fragrant and delicious ingredients to permeate the quinoa and flavour it. It is equally delicious served warm or cold. 

Consider this your basic introduction to quinoa if you’ve never cooked it before. It’s a simple bare-bones recipe. Once you’ve honed your quinoa-making skills and tempered your palette in favour of this delicious little superfood, you can add beans, feta cheese, butternut squash (heaven!) or even protein (chicken, etc.). I’ve even added 1/4 cup of toasted almonds for some added texture and flavour to this recipe in the past. For a deeper, nuttier flavour, you can also roast the quinoa in a dry skillet for five minutes before cooking it but if you’re a quinoa rookie, start with this basic recipe to get a taste for it then you can go on to add just about any ingredient that tickles your fancy.


If you’re unfamiliar with quinoa, here is some helpful Q & A:
Do you have to store quinoa in the refrigerator? It stores easily in an airtight container in a dry kitchen cabinet and won’t turn rancid quickly. Its shelf life is at least a year.
Do you have to wash/rinse the quinoa before cooking? In its natural state, quinoa has a bitter-tasting coating on each seed, called saponin, which protects it from being eaten by birds. Historically, the seeds need to be soaked to remove this coating before cooking and eating it. Today, the pre-washing of the seeds before packaging is quite thorough, so all you have to do is give the quinoa a quick rinse for good measure. 

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