Friday, April 8, 2016

Recipe of the month: Kidney Bean, Chickpea & Avocado Salad with Feta

OMG! The day has finally come when my blog is graced by a salad recipe! *pats self on the back* 

What took so long, you ask? I consider salads to be blah and I don't do blah. It is as simple as that.

Sure, I can have a small serving of salad alongside a substantial main course but give me a bowl of measly 'garden' salad and tell me that it is all I get to eat and I may just suffer a panic attack! You know those skinny girls who go to a restaurant and order just a salad? I'm not one of them (and well, I'm not skinny by any stretch of imagination either but that's not the point!). Come to think of it, I actually envy anyone who can make do with salad as a main meal. I am a perpetually hungry girl and I like to eat (and by eat I mean good hearty food and not rabbit food).

Now that I've established that I'm not a huge fan of salads let me tell you how I came to change my equation with them. Me and my hubby had been to Vietnam a few years ago on holiday and it was there that I was completely blown away by the kind of salads that most of the restaurants offered. They were fresh, flavourful, balanced and satisfying. I had a taste epiphany while I was there! I don't think I have ever had that many salads at one stretch of time in my entire life. I would actually get excited by the prospect of eating my next salad (and that had NEVER happened to me before). Of the many salads I ate there, I distinctly remember a gorgeous banana flower salad, a deceptively simple salad of julienned radish in a honey garlic vinaigrette topped with toasted sesame seeds and a spectacular beet salad with goat's cheese and hazelnuts. My opinion on salads definitely changed for the better while I was there. 



After coming back to Singapore, I vowed I would make more of an effort to incorporate salads into my diet. I do make salads at home but honestly, it isn't on a regular basis. I sincerely hope that can change. The good thing is, at the moment, I am on a self-devised weight loss regimen so in addition to swimming and brisk walks, my daily menu relies heavily on healthy greens and veggies to keep my ballooning weight in check. Salads are a no-brainer there, right? I consider lettuce to be boring and much prefer the likes of mesclun, arugula, watercress, baby spinach, basil, parsley, mint and microgreens in my salad. And I especially love protein-packed salads - those that have legumes, beans, nuts and/or boiled eggs in them.

This particular salad is something I made recently and fell in love with! Salads earn a bad rep for being plain and uninspiring (and a lot of them are) but this one is anything but. The four main staples of every salad include greens, protein, healthy fats and carbs and this one checks all the boxes. It has kidney beans, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, garlic, red onion, lemon, herbs, avocado and feta cheese. The lemon gives it that freshness and zing, the cherry tomatoes provide bursts of sweetness, the avocado and feta impart creaminess, the kidney beans and chickpeas make it hearty and everything else adds oodles of flavour. Yeah I know it has feta cheese but you know what? A little cheese never hurt anyone! Buy a lighter version or use less if it bothers you.

You can enjoy this salad as a side dish to a main meal or else use it to make delicious wraps or a topping for crostini. It is naturally gluten-free and can be transformed into a vegan version if you replace the feta with tofu. This is a win-win dish in that it looks good, tastes great and doesn't contribute significantly to your weight woes. 

Try it and if you feel the same way about salads as I previously did, you may just change your mind with this one!

Kidney Bean, Chickpea & Avocado Salad with Feta

Preparation Time: 15 min; Chilling time: 30 min
Total time: 45 min
Serves: 4-6
Recipe category: Salad/Western
Recipe level: Very easy

Ingredients:

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes, Optional


For the salad:
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas (if using the canned variety, rinse and drain)
1 cup cooked kidney beans (if using the canned variety, rinse and drain) 
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
20 cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 tsp lemon zest, grated
1 medium-sized avocado, peeled and flesh cut into chunks
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients: garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, parsley, red chilli flakes and honey.


2. In a separate large bowl, toss chickpeas, black beans, red onion, lemon zest and cherry tomatoes together.


3. Pour dressing over and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to marry.


4. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle feta cheese and avocado chunks and give one final gentle mix.



5. Serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!



Notes:
  • You can use black beans or cannellini beans in this recipe too
  • You can a combination of any two of the following herbs: mint, flat-leaf parsley, basil and cilantro
  • If feta is not available (or not preferred), you can use ricotta, halloumi, tofu or fresh paneer 
  • If you don't like raw onion or garlic, you can skip them
  • If you want some bite, you can use chopped red bell pepper
  • You can throw in some toasted nuts (walnuts/almonds) or seeds (hemp/chia/sunflower/pumpkin) for extra texture
  • If you have leftover salad, you can use it to make delicious lettuce wraps, pita wraps or tortilla wraps or else use it as a topping for crostini 


Tune in for more delicious salads coming (hopefully) soon!



Cheers,


1 comment:

  1. This looks absolutely delicions. For sure, am going to try it this weekend!

    ReplyDelete

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