Spinach Salad with Blackened Chickpeas

Calling all vegans with a taste for bold flavors! This Spinach Salad with Blackened Chickpeas is a protein-packed explosion of taste and texture. Chef Bryant Terry swaps out the usual grilled chicken for crispy, blackened chickpeas, adding a delightful smoky depth to the salad. But the star of the show might just be the creamy tofu herb dressing. Silken tofu creates a luxurious, vegan-friendly base that’s bursting with fresh herbs, making every bite a flavor sensation. Get ready to elevate your greens game!

Why Use Tofu in a Salad Dressing?

Silken tofu might seem like an unexpected addition to a salad dressing but it only benefits the dressing. Firstly, tofu acts as a fantastic creamy base, replacing ingredients like cashews or mayonnaise for a lighter and vegan-friendly option. The subtle flavor of tofu allows other ingredients in the dressing, like herbs and spices, to truly shine. But tofu’s magic goes beyond texture. It’s packed with protein, giving your salad a satisfying boost to help you feel fuller for longer.

Spinach Salad with Blackened Chickpeas Recipe

Makes 4 servings 

Spinach Salad with Blackened Chickpeas Ingredients

  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas 
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers 
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp safflower oil 
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed 
  • ¾ lb spinach, torn into bite-size pieces 
  • ½ lemon 
  • Freshly ground white pepper 
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest 
  • Dill fronds for garnish 

For the Creamy Herb Dressing: 

  • ¾ cup silken tofu 
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots 
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh dill 
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley 
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground white pepper 

For the Blackened Seasoning: 

  • 2 tbsp paprika 
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted 
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted 
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns 
  • 1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt 
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp whole white peppercorns 
  • 1 tsp onion powder 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme 
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste 

Salad Preparation Instructions

  1. Drain the chickpeas in a colander, thoroughly rinse them in cold water, and set them aside to dry for one hour. 
  2. While the chickpeas are drying, roast the bell peppers. Seed and thinly slice them, then set aside. 
  3. Once the chickpeas have thoroughly dried, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  4. Transfer the dried chickpeas to a large bowl, add one tablespoon of the oil and ½ 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. 
  5. Immediately transfer the chickpeas to the bowl just used, drizzle the remaining one teaspoon oil over them, and sprinkle with two teaspoons of blackened seasoning. Toss well to combine, transfer back to the baking sheet, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. 
  6. Place the spinach and bell peppers in a salad bowl. Lightly squeeze with the lemon juice, lightly sprinkle with the salt, and toss to combine with clean hands.  
  7. Stir the dressing a few times and lightly dress the vegetables. Add the chickpeas, season with pepper, and lightly drizzle with the dressing. 
  8. Garnish with the lemon zest and dill fronds.  

For the Creamy Herb Dressing: 

  1. In a blender, combine the tofu, shallots, dill, parsley, and mustard.  
  2. Purée until creamy, then season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Set aside. 

For the Blackened Seasoning: 

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.  
  2. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly.  
  3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. 

Note: The Blackened Seasoning makes more than you’ll need but stores easily and is great with other vegetables.  

Reprinted with permission from Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by the Bryant Terry, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Recipe by Bryant Terry / Styling by Julia Platt Leonard / Food Prepared by Juicy Foods 505 / Photography by Tira Howard

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