Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spoon Salad, Chickpeas and Wild Rice with Yogurt Sesame Sauce

A few years ago, I landed on Heidi Swanson's blog (101 Cookbooks) when I was looking for instruction on how to make yogurt and have found inspiration there, and in reading her cookbooks (Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Every Day) ever since. Her focus, is on "...natural, whole foods and ingredients - vegetarian recipes that are good for you, with the occasional sweet treat".

At the time I stumbled across her blog I knew I wanted to maintain my membership in the "I eat meat" club, but wanted to cut back and focus on produce and whole grains as the majority of what I eat. I was inspired by not so much the main part of the dish (which looks delicious), but the dressing in her post: Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad. In turn, Ms. Swanson was inspired by one of Peter Berley's recipes in his book.

I've written on Spoon Salad previously - a combination of raw vegetables cut up so that you can eat it with a spoon - with a good 'refrigerator life' that I make on a weekly basis and mix with a variety of other vegetables, herbs, grains, nuts, beans, dairy, meat, fish and/or tofu. The creativity is in the dressings and 'mix-ins'. The base vegetables change somewhat by season. Every once in a while, I'll use it as a base for a speedy saute or stir fry. I just don't get tired of it.

I had Spoon Salad in the refrigerator along with cooked chickpeas and wild rice and enough 'mix-ins' (avocado and cilantro) to make a great lunch, and enough leftover dressing to take to my friend Lynn's house the next day as a dip for sesame crackers.


Sauce adapted from: Heidi Swanson's Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad
Serves: 4 as a main dish and 6-8 as a side
You may make (and I recommend it) the dressing a couple of hours ahead of time and refrigerate. It will thicken up a little, but just add water - a tablespoon at a time - you don't want it to be watery.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minded
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup roasted tahini (if you use raw, you might want to add a teaspoon or so of toasted sesame oil)
  • 1/2 cup plain or Greek Yogurt (full fat, low fat or non-fat - all of them work)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • fine grain sea or kosher salt
 Combine the warm water, tahini and yogurt in a mixing bowl and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Combine.

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne and turmeric. Stir and saute for about 30 seconds or until the spices are toasted. Add this mixture to the bowl with the water, tahini and yogurt. Add the lemon juice and combine well. Taste for seasoning.

  • 4-6 cups of Spoon Salad (or any colorful vegetable-based salad)
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked wild rice
  • 4 scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (packed) chopped - leaves and the tender parts of the stem
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • fine grain sea or kosher salt
Combine all of the ingredients with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt* . All but the avocado may be combined a couple of hours ahead of time and refrigerated. Take it out of the refrigerator a little before you serve - it should be chilled, but not cold. Dice and add the avocado right before serving.

Like Heidi, I like to serve the sauce on top of each serving of salad with any extra on the side.

* This assumes that none of the salad ingredients are seasoned with salt. If you are using any ingredients  that have been seasoned, adjust to taste.

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