I work downtown and despite it being the mostly densely populated part of the city during working hours, it’s a total food desert. There seem to be so few palatable options that exceed the scope of pizza, shawarma or Subway. One of the few places where I’m able to take shelter at the lunch hour is at Toro Taqueria and I’ve quickly become hooked on their taco bowls.
I typically order mine with a lettuce base with roast chicken as the protein. In an effort to cut back on spending, see Tuesday’s post, and not be mistaken for a squatter, I wanted to try my hand at making my own, slightly healthier version.
Chickpeas are packed with protein, about 12 grams per cup, and I find are a great flavour vector when properly seasoned.
Maybe you never considered making your own taco seasoning because you have been slavishly devoted to the prepackaged stuff that comes in your Old El Paso taco kit from the grocery store. Believe it or not, you probably have all the spices you need to make your own taco seasoning in your own home, without any of the over-inflated costs or unknown ingredients.
Use the taco seasoning detailed in the recipe below for all of your taco needs, whether you’re working with chickpeas, chicken, ground beef or chorizo.
Can we talk about quick pickled onions for a second? When they said “quick” they really weren’t joking. About 3 minutes of prep and 3 minutes of prep, and BOOM! delicious homemade condiments that will last up to 2 months in your fridge.
The acidity of the red onion is mellowed out in the pickling process, I added some whole cumin and fennel seed to my quick pickle mix to kick it up a notch (did Emeril Lagasse trademark that phrase?).
Onto the dressing. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught my Instagram story last week where I went on a rant about the terrible selection of grocery stores in Ottawa’s downtown core. They seem poorly organized, picked over and under-supplied. Say what you will about Barrhaven, but their grocery stores are truly havens for foodies like me.
BUT even the disappointing, postage stamp-sized grocery stores in the core are stocked with the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that you’ll need for this dressing. Trust me, find them in the Mexican aisle – I have.
Use a couple tablespoons of the dressing to massage the kale. I can’t stress enough how essential a little kneading is in softening up the kale and keeping you from having a serious jaw workout with every bite.
I’m told, from people in the know, that this recipe also adheres to the popular ketogenic diet that has been taking the world by storm. If you’re vegan, you could easily adapt this salad to your needs by excluding the feta or replacing it with non-dairy cheese.
Honestly, I’ve shared a few salads on the blog to date, but this is by far my favourite. I’m completely enamoured with the selection of flavours, from sweet to spicy to acidic to salty, this baby has got it all.
Chickpea Taco Salad
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 15- oz can chickpeas drained, rinsed and dried with clean tea towel
- 1 sweet potato 1/2″ dice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 head kale stripped and chopped
- 3/4 cup canned corn
- 1 avocado
- 3/4 cup feta crumbled
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds toasted and salted
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce minced with additional 1 tbsp adobo sauce
- 2 limes juiced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp agave nectar, or honey if you don’t have agave nectar
- 1-1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
- 1/2 tsp whole fennel seed
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, mix drained, rinsed and dried chickpeas with taco seasoning and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss until chickpeas are evenly coated. Place on one half of a rimmed baking sheet.
Place diced sweet potato on the other half of the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until evenly coated.
Bake chickpeas and sweet potato in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Chipotle Lime Dressing (recipe follows) and make the Quick Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows).
Place stripped and chopped kale in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of Chipotle Lime Dressing and gently knead the leaves with your hands for 3-5 minutes until kale is softened.
Allow chickpeas and sweet potato to cool to room temperature and then combine with kale. Top with corn, pumpkin seeds, feta, avocado and quick pickled red onions.
If serving immediately, add 3-4 tablespoons of Chipotle Lime Dressing, to taste. If making ahead, keep dressing on the side and add to portions just before serving.
Thinly slice ½ a red onion.
Place the onion along with the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and whole spices and any optional additions in a small pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Remove form the stove and let cool.
Place onions and liquid in a jar and store in the fridge, for up to 2 months.
In a large bowl, whisk thoroughly the chipotle, lime juice, honey, cumin, garlic, and salt.
Pour in the olive oil and continue to whisk the vinaigrette until fully combined.
Add in cilantro and whisk one last time to combine.