Kale, Chickpea, Pomegranate Salad

A lovely Middle-Eastern (sorta) inspired salad chock full of flavour and nutrients! Served with a tahini-lemon dressing, this salad is a great side to any number of Middle-Eastern stews or rice dishes. If you don’t like kale, feel free to use any other green you prefer!

If you’d like to make this salad a little more substantial for a light lunch or the like, I highly recommend adding in some Bulgur wheat or couscous! If you can’t have gluten, quinoa would also be a good option.

Serves 4-6
Prep time: ~15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large bunches of kale, leaves stripped off the stems and roughly chopped.
  • 1 bunch mint, finely chopped.
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped.
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed well.
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate.
  • 1 cucumber, peeled if desired, finely sliced.
  • 1/2 red onion, finely minced.
  • 1-2 pieces Arabic bread, cut into small squares.
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil.

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp tahini.
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed.
  • 1 tsp agave syrup.
  • salt.
  • pepper.

Cooking Instructions:

First, time to make some easy croutons! Preheat the oven as high as it will go. Toss the bread pieces with a tiny bit of olive oil, spread them out thinly on a baking sheet, and pop in the oven. Bake them for 5-10 minutes, giving them an occasional stir, until nice and crispy. Take them out of the oven and allow to cool completely.

Place the kale in a large bowl and massage it gently to help tenderize it. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and toss until well-mixed.

Mix the lemon juice with the tahini, garlic, agave syrup, salt, and pepper. Slowly add in the olive oil while mixing (preferably in a blender or with an immersion blender), until nicely emulsified.

Top the salad with the croutons, dress liberally (or have dressing on the side), and serve!

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Vegan Rice Bowl

Kind of similar to the Quinoa Black Bean Bowl I posted several months ago, this is a relatively easy recipe that can be tailored to your personal tastes!

I’ve included two variations of this style of bowl – one with brown rice, fried tofu, and fresh vegetables, and the other with a brown-and-wild rice medley with roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, and beans.

This recipe can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free soy sauce and substitute the flour for another gluten-free flour (I’ve used brown rice flour for this, and it works quite well).

Serves 6
Prep time: ~30 minutes for the tofu bowl, ~45 minutes for the sweet potato bowl.

Ingredients:

For the tofu bowl:

  • 200 g extra firm tofu.
  • 2 tsp sesame oil.
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice.
  • 2 tsp soy sauce.
  • 1 tsp grated ginger.
  • 1/2 – 1 cup flour, for coating the tofu.
  • pinch of black pepper.
  • 2 cups brown rice, rinsed.
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated into thin strips.
  • 2 large beets, peeled and grated into thin strips.
  • 1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), sliced into very thin strips.
  • 6 large handfuls spinach (or other greens – bok choy would work nicely), washed.

For the sweet potato bowl:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 2 tsp Za’atar (Middle Eastern blend of herbs and sesame seeds), or other herbs.
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets.
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets.
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
  • 1.5 cups brown rice, rinsed.
  • 1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed.
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.

For the dressing (goes with both bowls):

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce.
  • 1/3 cup apple cider/balsamic vinegar.
  • 2 tbsp tahini.
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped.
  • splash of hot sauce.
  • pinch of black pepper.
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (olive oil works well).

Cooking Instructions:

For the dressing:

Add the soy, vinegar, tahini, garlic, hot sauce, and vinegar to a blender/food processor. If you have an immersion blender, use the beaker that came with it. Blend the dressing, slowly dribbling in the oil.

Alternatively, mince the garlic very finely, and then just mix it all together in a bowl with a fork. Depends on how much effort you want to expend.

For the tofu bowl:

Cook your brown rice in a rice cooker, or in  a pot on the stove according to package directions. Add a splash of oil and a pinch of salt to the water. While it cooks, it’s time to press and marinate your tofu.

This is how I like to press my tofu – place it on a bed of paper towels on a large plate, then place another plate on top. Put something heavy on top of the plate (a couple of cans or a cookbook work well!), and allow it to press on the tofu for at least 10 minutes.

Once you’re done pressing the tofu, cut it into 1 cm cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl along with the sesame oil, soy sauce, five spice, and ginger, and mix well. Set aside to marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate your carrots and beets. You want them to be as long as possible, but nice and thin! If you don’t have a grater, you can sliced them into a very fine julienne. Slice your peppers up too.

When the tofu is done marinating, get a large frying pan on high heat, and add enough oil to generously cover to bottom of the pan.

Prep a large shallow bowl with the flour. Add a pinch of black pepper to the flour for seasoning. Roll the tofu in the flour, tapping off the excess, and then add it to the pan. Fry the tofu, flipping it so it cooks evenly on all sides. Once the tofu is browned and crispy all over, remove it from the pan and pat off excess oil on a paper towel. You could also deep-fry the tofu, if you feel like going to the effort of it.

Serve with the brown rice in the bottom, then the spinach, then the sliced vegetables, then the tofu. Add as much or as little dressing as you like!

For the sweet potato bowl:

Mix the rice all together and cook either in a rice cooker, or on the stove. This amount of rice should use about 4 cups of water and take about 45 minutes. Add a splash of oil and a pinch of salt to the water used to cook the rice. Now, time to prep everything else.

Toss your sweet potatoes with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and the Za’atar. Pop them in an oven at 400 F/190 C for approx 30 minutes, until they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

When the sweet potatoes have about 10 minutes left in the oven, heat a lidded frying pan over medium heat with a splash of oil in the bottom. When the oil is hot, add your broccoli and cauliflower. Cook, covered, for a couple minutes, then add your lemon juice. Stir every so often, keeping the lid on the pan, so that the vegetables steam in the lemon juice. When they become tender, season with salt and pepper, then take them off the heat.

Stir the black beans into the rice mixture, then serve with the rice on the bottom, then the broccoli and cauliflower, and top with the sweet potato. Add as much or as little dressing as you like!