Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Coconut Curry Dressing

Fantastic news---I got married! The wedding was a blast, and the first event of the wedding weekend was a barbecue in our backyard that Thursday night. All our friends and relatives who were in town early came over and made merry. We brewed a keg of apricot blond, and I made a ton tried-and-true recipes which are always crowd favorites: smoked brisket, glazed pork shoulder, tomato salad, summer salad.
But: throughout my life, I've accidentally made friends with a number of vegans, vegetarians, people who only eat chicken and no other meat, people who observe Jewish food rules even though they only actually believe in karma, and people who are perpetually embracing whatever new fake-science fad diet is current. These individuals dazzled me with their personalities before I could reject them for their dietary lameness. So, what were they going to eat at the BBQ? I wanted to make something vegan that would be hearty and taste awesome.
So I settled on a curried chickpea salad. I started with one of Mark Bittman's recipes as a base, and improvised a few additions (more heat, more flavor elements, fresh herbs). I tend to love anything including coconut milk, but had never tried it in a salad dressing before.
It was a wild success! This salad came out absolutely delicious and was eaten nearly as fast as the glazed pork. I got more compliments on it than any other dish, and not just from the karma-vegans.
I will definitely be adding this to our regular rotation. It would make great, healthy lunches and is the perfect thing to keep a big batch of in the fridge for the work week.
This was amazing. 
(This is for a huge amount. Halve the recipe for a more normal amount. Or just eat it all week!)

6 cans of chickpeas
1 1/2 cups of dry lentils
4 shallots
1 can coconut milk (use full-fat, not the light kind)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1.5 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
juice of 3 limes
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (leave this out if you want the recipe actually vegan)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
dash soy sauce
dash sriracha (or any heat element)
3 jalapenos
1 bunch of cilantro

What to do
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a large bowl. Cook the lentils and add them to the bowl with the chickpeas.
Dice the shallots and jalapenos and add them to the bowl. If you like things spicy, leave the seeds in the jalapenos. If you want it mild, take the seeds out before dicing.
Pour the can of coconut milk into a container (I used an old jelly jar, but a smaller bowl is fine too).
Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan and heat until shimmering. Add the curry powder and cumin seeds and toast / fry in the oil until fragrant--about 2 minutes. Add the toasted spices to the container with the coconut milk. Add lime juice, dash soy sauce, dash sriracha, and the fish sauce (or not). Mix well (shaking works best).
Pour the coconut mixture over the chickpea mixture. Toss to mix. Place in the fridge for at least and hour--this allows the dressing to soak in.
Just before serving, chop the cilantro and mix it in. Add the pecans if you're using them, and mix those in too.
All done!

This was a really, really easy recipe, in addition to tasting fabulous. I can't recommend it enough.


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