Thursday, August 27, 2009

Black Quinoa with Toasted Chickpeas

The past two weeks I was graced with wonderful visitors and an amazing wedding, per my previous post. The downside was, I thrashed any form of balanced eating hardcore...two words: German bakery. Predictably, the less I cooked or prepared my own meals the worse I felt. Attempting to restore the damage, I did what always works - threw away the instant stuff, bought fresh products, and started again. OK, in some cases I just finished the instant stuff :) Anyway, in the end it worked.

In a random local shop that wasn't sure what it wanted to be - part trinkets, parth clothes, food?! - I happened upon some black quinoa (as if this grain weren't protein and fiber-ful enough). In order to substitute without missing any of the junk, I also wanted to make some tasty snacks รก la toasted chickpeas. Lastly I was craving a satisfying spread akin to mayo but without sugar or vinegar. Luckily in all the shades of healthier dairy and cheese available here in Switzerland (quark, yogurt, creme fraiche, fromage frais, ricotta, cottage cheese), I found a couple of recipes for 'mayonnaise' with my new favorite, fromage blanc or blanc battu. Playing with a combination of these led to a super dish.

Black Quinoa with Toasted Chickpeas

Quinoa & chickpea salad (2 servings ):
1/3 cup of black quinoa
2/3 cup of water
1/2 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 T olive oil
1 t sea salt

Blanc battu dressing:
1/2 cup of blanc battu* (or fromage blanc or greek yogurt)
1-2 T olive oil (or canola)
1 T apple cider vinegar
garlic powder
1 t herbs de provence
salt & pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to a high temperature (I had mine at 250 C) and mix the chickpeas and with 1 T of the oil and just under 1/2 t of salt. Simultaneously mix the cauliflower with the remaining oil and salt. Roast them in separate baking dishes until the cauliflower begins to brown and the chickpeas are toasted, but not quite crunchy. Set aside.

  • Meanwhile prepare the quinoa by simmering it in the water until soft (when all the water is absorbed and it 'pops'), about 20 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking, and fluff with a fork when done.

  • While the vegetables roast and the quinoa simmers, combine all of the ingredients to make the blanc battu dressing. Add the spices and herbs to your tastes. It would also go wonderfully with fresh dill or basil.

  • Allow the roasted vegetables to cool, and then combine with the black quinoa and dressing. Bon app!

I'm really looking forward to making this again, and will double the recipe and share :) I'd also like to continue experimenting with variations to the dressing (FYI the mayo substitute also included half an egg yolk and more oil, but I found the texture of this mix was just right). Lastly, I'll be keeping a stash of herbed, toasted chickpeas on hand whenever possible! They are unbelievably good.


  1. Hey Candice, nice blog! I love the photos and, of course, the recipes.
    About toasted chickpeas... I agree, they're surprisingly delicious! I ate them for the first time last month when I was in Barcelona. Helena took me to a tapas place where we had an amazing dish made with chickpeas, spinach, garlic, and bacon. The chickpeas were fried in olive oil until they were slightly crispy. I always liked chickpeas (in hummus, falafel, chana masala, etc), but I never had them prepared like that before. I told Helena (who is a Barcelona native) that these were the most delicious chickpeas I'd ever eaten, and she said that it's a very common dish in Catalunya, and she would send me the recipe. When I get it, I'll remember to share it with you!

  2. Hi Can!

    Glad you're feeling better. Cooking your own meals may be time consuming but in the end it's so worth it.

    The pictures look delicious! :D
    The mayo substitute sounds interesting! It's cool that you worked out a version without an egg yolk. I think I'll give it a try. (I tried once unsuccessfully to make mayonnaise. It was an oily disaster!)

    We finally had the cookout on Saturday. It went really well! Everyone had a great time. I told Sabree about your blog and that you're cooking up a storm.

    Ok, I am finally heading to bed. Talk to you soon!


  3. I want to try this, although I'm not sure where to get quinoa. Would this recipe work with canned chickpeas?

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  5. Ju: Bring the recipe on! I ate really well in Spain, amazing things done to olives, pulpo (octopus) and apparently chickpeas!

    Sheryl: I was glad I got to see pictures from the BBQ! You guys worked hard but in the end it sounds like everyone was happy. Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving.

    B: I've just seen your post! Yes you can totally stir in canned chickpeas, a nice time saver and just as tasty. You can find quinoa in a health food store (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's) or better yet remind me and I'll bring you some :)