This text and recipe is posted with permission from Vegetable Kingdom written by Bryant Terry. Photo credit: Ed Anderson.
Terry pairs each recipe with a soundtrack, with the playlist inextricably linked to the recipe. See his recommendation for this recipe below.
From the author: While I typically call for from-scratch chickpeas, I’m fine with using canned ones in this recipe. Once they are roasted and tossed in blackened seasoning, they make a great snack or addition to leafy salads such as this one.
(Oaktown note: Terry provides recipes for making your own spice blends throughout his cookbook; we think our Hot Cajun Blackening Spice is a great stand-in for the homemade version. It's ground and blended fresh in small batches.)
Makes 4 servings
Creamy herb dressing
3/4 cup silken tofu2 tablespoons minced shallots1 tablespoon minced fresh dill1 tablespoon fresh parsley1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustardKosher saltFreshly ground white pepper
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas2 large yellow bell peppers1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon safflower oil1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed2 teaspoons Blackened Seasoning (recipe follows)3/4 pound spinach, torn into bite-size pieces1/2 lemonFreshly ground white pepper1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zestDill fronds, for garnish
Make the dressing: In a blender, combine the tofu, shallots, dill, parsley, and mustard. Puree until creamy, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the salad: Drain the chickpeas in a colander, thoroughly rinse them in cold water, and set them aside to dry for 1 hour.
While the chickpeas are drying, roast the bell peppers. There are a few methods for roasting peppers. I prefer placing them directly over a burner on a gas stove and turning them with tongs until the skin is blackened and blistered all over. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of first learning this procedure in culinary school, but the process is fulfilling. If you have an electric stove, you’ll need to use the broiler or grill to achieve the same outcome—just be sure to turn them occasionally to char the skin on all sides. After they are properly charred, the peppers are placed in a heatproof container and covered for 15 minutes, until they have cooled and their skins have loosened up. Peel off the charred skin (avoiding washing the peppers or you will lose some of the flavor), then cut off the stem end, remove the core. Seed and thinly slice them, then set aside.
Once the chickpeas have thoroughly dried, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer the dried chickpeas to a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and toss well to combine with clean hands. Spread the chickpeas in one even layer on the baking sheet. Bake, shaking the pan every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking, until golden brown and starting to turn crispy, about 45 minutes.
Immediately transfer the chickpeas to the bowl just used, drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon oil over them, and sprinkle with the blackened seasoning. Toss well to combine, transfer back to the baking sheet, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Place the spinach and bell peppers in a salad bowl. Lightly squeeze with the lemon juice, lightly sprinkle with salt, and toss to combine with clean hands. Stir the dressing a few times and lightly dress the vegetables. Add the chickpeas, season with pepper, and lightly drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with lemon zest and dill fronds.
Song: “New Jack Bounce (Interlude)” by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah from Diaspora
Makes about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons paprika1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon dried thyme1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
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This cake is made with a variety of warming spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. All of these spices create a flavor profile similar to chai, while enhancing the natural sweetness of the carrots, and bringing out the notes of caramel in the brown butter cream cheese frosting.