Indian food just gets me. I don't know if it's the abundance of vegetarian options, the deeply fragrant sauces, or the pillowy soft naan bread, but whatever it is – I'm obsessed. Naturally, I'm best friends with the local Indian restaurant in town. It's where Anguel and I go if we don't feel like cooking, or where we'll stop before buying last minute groceries (because you know you aren't supposed to shop on an empty stomach). That and basically every other excuse we manage to come up with for why we absolutely need Indian food for the fourth time that month. We always leave with a smile on our faces - and bellies that are not-so-subtly nudging up against our waistbands. Because no matter how much 'practice' we have in curtailing our order to a manageable one, we always end up leaving stuffed.
But as the warmer months start rolling in, I often find myself craving lighter, cooler meals. So as a result, I'm a bit overdue on indulging in my classic Chana Masala order with a side of garlic naan. And surprisingly, I'm not that choked up about it. Instead, we've been getting in our fix through some homemade Indian-inspired dishes that have been on heavy rotation. Things like these Curry Chickpea Salad Pitas, and now this delicious Curry Apple Salad with Spiced Chickpeas.
This salad features a delicious Indian-inspired vinaigrette. It's flavored with curry, cumin and a pinch of cardamom. I recognize this isn't the most standard of dressings, but trust me on this one. This vinaigrette is yummy and well-balanced – and in no way overpowering. It'll remind you of Indian flavors, in a slightly more toned down (but equally delicious) kind of way. And the crunchy spiced chickpeas mirror a similar flavor profile (yay to simplifying ingredients), while also providing a nice crouton-like element to the dish.
It probably goes without saying, but when building a salad, variety is important. Nobody likes a sad salad. The challenge at home is getting maximum flavor with minimal effort. I don't know about you, but my fridge looks nothing like a Whole Foods salad bar. I might have pre-cooked beans or lentils on hand; but pre-diced veggies…in my dreams. What I love about this dish is that the extra 'toppings' are pretty painless to throw together on a weeknight. Minimal chopping. Very little active cooking. And no need to go out searching for hard-to-find ingredients. The spiced baked chickpeas are the 'hardest' part, although given it requires cracking open a can and sprinkling on some spices…it's nowhere near difficult. Maple glazed pecans add the perfect touch of sweetness to this dish. I've included a recipe to make vegan glazed pecans because many store-bought varieties use butter. You're more than welcome to make your own or buy from the store – whichever suits you best. As for the rest of the fresh ingredients, I kept it simple. I use a boxed spring mix because it makes everything faster. Then, add freshly chopped cucumber and thinly sliced green apples to round everything out. And just like that, you've got yourself an awesome salad that's anything but boring – yum!
Curry Apple Salad with Spiced Chickpeas
Vegan Maple Glazed Pecans
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil (see note 1)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¾ cup pecans
- 1 (15 oz/14 fl oz/398 ml) can chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Curry Apple Salad
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon Madras curry powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 pinch cardamom
- Black pepper (to taste)
- 5 oz mixed greens
- 1 English cucumber, chopped
- 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced
Vegan Maple Glazed Pecans
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Glaze: Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in maple syrup. Bring to a bubble, then remove from heat. Add pecans and stir to coat.
- Bake: Pour mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until nuts are golden and fragrant, stirring every 5 minutes, for about 10 to 15 minutes total. The nuts will still seem a bit sticky at this point, but they will harden as they cool. Let fully cool on the pan, at least 30 minutes.
Curry Apple Salad
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Spiced chickpeas: Scatter chickpeas on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat. Sprinkle with curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt. Toss to coat. Bake until crispy, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Let cool slightly.
- Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, curry powder, salt, maple syrup, cumin, cardamom and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Assemble: In a large bowl, add mixed greens, cucumber, and apples. Toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Sprinkle with glazed pecans and chickpeas.
- Coconut oil: If you don't want to add coconut flavor, use deodorized/refined coconut oil (instead of virgin coconut oil). Or, substitute butter (vegan or otherwise).
- Make ahead tip: You can save time by making the glazed pecans in advance (or use store-bought). The vinaigrette can also be made in advance and refrigerated (if the olive oil solidifies in the fridge, bring up to room temp before serving). Dress and toss salad just before serving.