Balela

Balela

Ingredients

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 4 roma tomatoes, chopped)

Dressing:
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 large cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a large salad bowl, lightly mix together the chickpeas, black beans, mint, parsley, onion, and tomatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the jalapeno pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to serve.

NOTES

I am always on the lookout for new, easy, delicious ways to satisfy the afternoon hungries. First, there was tabbouleh. Then, there was cumin-lime chickpea salad. Now, there is balela. My goodness is this ever fantastic. Tangy, spicy, zingy, but also creamy from the combination of the two types of beans. This is definitely my new obsession.

Portion size note: The recipe as is would probably serve 8 people as a lunch or dinner side dish. For afternoon snacks, I cut this recipe right in half and split it into five portions and thought it was perfect.

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Cumin-Lime Chickpea Salad

Cumin-Lime Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

4 large cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons lime juice, depending on how zingy you want it
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 large red onion, very finely diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped*

(*Feel free to substitute parsley if you have an aversion to cilantro; I’ve tried it both ways and it’s awesome either way!)

Method

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add to the chickpeas, cilantro and onion; stir gently to combine. Serve right away or refrigerate for a while. The flavors get stronger the longer they have to meld.

NOTES

DELICIOUS and fantastic for a party side dish. I am kicking myself for waiting far, far too long to make it. I upped the spices just a touch from the original, as I like things a bit punchier.

This dish, along with my tabbouleh, have become my go-to late afternoon snacks, and will probably serve in that role for years and years to come.

Quinoa and Vegetable Salad

Quinoa and Vegetable Salad
(serves 1, but can easily be scaled up as needed)

Ingredients

1/4 cup dry quinoa
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 bell pepper, finely diced (or 1 large slice each of red, yellow, green)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 lb broccoli florets, cut small
1 Thai birds eye chile, seeded and minced
5 or 6 mint leaves, minced

(optional: sriracha for serving)

Method

Put quinoa and 1/2 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat and add grated garlic, lime juice and salt. Set aside.

Add the bell pepper, onion, carrot, broccoli, chile and mint to a large serving bowl. Add the quinoa mixture and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with sriracha on top, if desired.

NOTES

Very simple recipe, but one that was so unexpectedly delicious, I wanted to save it here to make sure I could replicate it exactly in the future.

When I make quinoa salad, it’s almost always a variation of this one with tomatoes and corn and scallions and cumin and sometimes I add black beans… but tonight’s was a total departure from that, more Thai salad influenced, and it was reeeeally really good. Like, I could eat this every week for multiple lunches good. Which I will.

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Toasted Quinoa Salad
courtesy of Ezra Pound Cake

Ingredients

For the salad:
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 cup diced (1/2 inch) cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup thin-sliced (1/4 inch) scallions (white and green parts)

For the dressing:
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper, plus more to taste
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt

For the garnish:
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced (1/2 inch)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Method

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cold water for at least 45 seconds. Shake the strainer to remove as much water as possible.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the rinsed quinoa and cook, stirring, over medium heat until it is light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water to the quinoa, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent, 18 to 20 minutes.

Let stand, uncovered, until cool, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: sprinkle the cumin in a small skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. When the skillet is cool to the touch, add the oil, lime juice, jalapeno, garlic and salt. Transfer to a large bowl, and whisk to blend.

Add the cooled quinoa, corn, tomatoes and scallions to the dressing, and toss to blend.

Spoon the salad onto a large platter, and garnish with the avocado and cilantro.

NOTES

Holy crap, people. Hoe. Lee. Crap.

This is the best salad I have ever had in my life. I knew when I spotted the recipe that it would be good, but this… this blew me away.

The nutty flavor of the quinoa blends with the sweetness of the corn, the acidity of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the avocado and then, THEN, you get hit with the jalapeno lime toasted cumin dressing. My god, the dressing. The smell of it in the bowl when you whisk it together is intoxicating, and I don’t use that word lightly.

A “must make” before summer is over. Must.

Tabbouleh

I love tabbouleh. Love. LOOOOOVE. And I can tell you exactly why:

1. I love chewy grains.
2. I love cold foods that have sharp, bright flavors.
3. I love eating mouthfuls of fresh herbs.

This bowl… someone give me a massive spoon. And a napkin.

This is my new addiction. I will make it at least once per week through this spring and summer, or until I get tired of it. Knowing my obsessive nature, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

Tabbouleh

Ingredients

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock) or water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
2 scallions, greens and whites, sliced or chopped

Method

Place the bulgur in a medium sized bowl. Bring the stock or water and the salt to a boil, then pour it over the bulgur. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add the lemon juice to the bulgur and mix well. Add in the rest of the other ingredients and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

You can eat it immediately, but it’s much better if you let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes – and it’s even more amazing the next day!