October may seem like a strange time to be writing about salads, but even in the cooler months, I like to eat salads for lunch. I load up on raw vegetables for my midday meal and concentrate on cooked veggies, beans, and grains for dinner. But raw vegetables don’t really fill me up or keep me going all afternoon; I need something with staying power. That’s where chickpea salads come in. Served atop a big salad of lettuce, spinach, cucumber, and tomatoes, they add flavor and texture as well as protein.
As soon as you take a look at the ingredients of these salads, you’ll notice that they have something more than chickpeas in common. Yes, I added okara, the soy pulp left over from all the soymilk I’ve been making. Since I’m making all of our soymilk now, I’m winding up with heaps (some would say mountains) of okara, and it’s made its way into everything from burgers to cornbread. But I did a silly thing one day and tasted it straight out of the machine, and it tasted good, once I added a little agave nectar and vanilla to it–kind of like cream of wheat. Since that experience didn’t kill me, I decided to just start tossing okara into dishes that weren’t cooked, and my first chickpea-okara salad was born.
Now, I know that most of you aren’t making soymilk, and though you can buy okara at some Asian markets, it isn’t that easy to find, especially in its fresh (wet) form. But the great thing is that tofu, either silken or regular, will work, too. The purpose of the okara is to add some creaminess without adding a lot of mayo, and tofu will do the same thing. Tofu is higher in fat and calories, however, and it lacks okara’s fiber, so if you have okara, then you should definitely use it.
This first salad is my favorite. I used fresh thyme and parsley from my garden, and I loved the clean, herbal taste they gave it. My husband said it tasted like tuna salad, but I think he’s hallucinating because I didn’t put anything fishy in it. If you have fresh herbs, use them–you could even experiment with basil or oregano–but if not, give it a try with dried thyme.
Creamy Chickpea Salad with Fresh Herbs
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 cup okara or tofu mashed well
- 2 tablespoons Nayonaise or other vegan mayo
- 1/2 tablespoon Creole mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning* or to taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 rib celery minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- generous grating of black pepper
- Mash the chickpeas well with a potato masher. Add all remaining ingredients and taste, adding more seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve as a sandwich filling, as a dip with crackers, or atop a bed of greens.
*The main ingredient of Old Bay is celery salt, so you can replace it with celery salt and a pinch or two of red pepper.
Nutritional facts are based on okara.
Weight Watchers 2 Points (Core + 1/2 pt. for mayo)
With reduced fat tofu: 154 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat; (26% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 454mg Sodium; 3g Fiber. Weight Watchers 3 Points (Core + 1/2 pt. for mayo.)
I enjoyed the curried chickpea salad below with Edward & Sons brown rice snaps, which are low in calories and fat, as well as gluten-free. (Attention Weight Watchers: 8 crackers are just one point!) Later, my husband tried it and said it tasted like shrimp salad. Seriously, I don’t know where he comes up with these ideas!
Curried Chickpea Salad
- 1/2 medium onion minced
- 1/2 bell pepper minced
- 1/2 hot chile pepper seeded and minced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon good curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 cup okara or silken tofu mashed well
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Nayonaise or other vegan mayo optional
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- generous grating black pepper
- chopped celery/or tomato optional; use if you want a lighter salad, more suited to a side-dish than a dip.
- In a small saucepan, sauté onion over medium-high heat until it softens, about 2-3 minutes. Add bell pepper and hot pepper, if using, and cook another minute. Add curry powder and cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
- Mash chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl. Add the onion mixture and all remaining ingredients. Stir well and check for seasoning. If necessary add a little more curry powder, salt, or lemon juice. Refrigerate until chilled.
Weight Watchers Core (w/o mayo) / 2 Points.