Curry Apple Salad with Spiced Chickpeas
A delicious salad packed with Indian-inspired flavors of crispy spiced chickpeas and a light curry vinaigrette. An easy, exciting weeknight salad that will have you feeling bright and energized. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
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
SERVES 3-4 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
5 oz/142 g salad mix
1 cucumber, chopped
2 granny smith apples, sliced
3/4 cup Glazed Pecans (recipe below)
1 can chickpeas (15 oz/425 g)
2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 °F.
To make the spiced chickpeas, thoroughly rinse and dry chickpeas. Transfer chickpeas to a baking sheet. Pour melted coconut oil over chickpeas and toss to coat. Add curry powder, cumin powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt. Toss to mix. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until chickpeas are firm and dry. Remove from oven and allow them to cool.
In a small bowl or glass, prepare the curry vinaigrette. Add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, curry powder, cumin powder, cardamom, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
In a large bowl, add the lettuce, chopped cucumber, sliced apples and pecans. Pour the vinaigrette over salad and toss well. Top with spiced chickpeas and serve.
If making your own glazed pecans for this recipe, start with those first to allow them enough time to cool.
VEGAN MAPLE GLAZED PECANS
MAKES 3/4 CUP (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
2 teaspoons coconut oil*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, then melt coconut oil. Once melted add maple syrup and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a bubble. Once bubbles appear on the surface, remove from heat. Add pecans and toss thoroughly to coat well.
Transfer pecans to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for ~10 minutes until fragrant. Stir half way through and keep an eye on the pecans to prevent them from burning. Once toasted, remove from oven and allow to cool fully (30 minutes – 1 hour). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
*You may wish to opt for deodorized coconut oil. It doesn't impart the same coconut scent.