Healthy kale, creamy chickpeas, and sweet maple syrup. Perfect!
Recently, I’ve been pretty obsessed with chickpeas. Now that I realized they’re good for more than hummus, I’ve started putting them on everything. Spicing them up and eating them on a salad may be my new favorite way to enjoy them. They really make this spicy kale salad pop in a very healthily addictive way.
Really, there’s nothing not to love about this salad. The chickpeas get a flavor boost via spicy cayenne and chili flakes, which combines perfectly with the spicy jalapenos in the salad. The carrots and red onion provide a sweet, crunchy flavor. And then there’s the nutritious kale – dressed in a maple dijon dressing, you won’t notice any of those naturally bitter flavors.
But, for me, it’s really all about those chickpeas in this spicy kale salad. Want to know why I love chickpeas so much? Read on and you’ll find out!
My Love Affair with Chickpeas
For a long time, I thought chickpeas were only good for hummus. I love hummus, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t see how you could enjoy chickpeas without whizzing them up in the food processor. Then, I had a restaurant salad topped with chickpeas and my whole worldview was forever changed.
These beans are anything but normal beans. Unlike other types of legumes, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) maintain their form really well. They have a buttery texture and a nutty flavor with a slightly grainy, chewy exterior. They’re a perfect counterbalance to super crunchy ingredients like kale, carrots, and carrots.
The other reason I love them? They’re super nutrient dense. One cup of chickpeas contains 14.5 grams of protein, making it perfect for meatless salads and stews. They’re also are high in fiber, calcium, potassium, zinc, and folate. Basically, they’re delicious and also happen to be good for you, all at the same time!
You can make them from scratch by soaking dried chickpeas overnight and simmering them in water the next day. Or, you can get them pre-cooked in a can – just make sure to look for low-sodium varieties. Both canned and dried chickpeas last about 1 year in the pantry, so stock up and use them often!
Maple Dijon Dressing
While I think the chickpeas are kind of the star in this spicy kale salad, I also really appreciate the simplicity of the maple dijon dressing. It’s the perfect way to accentuate the fresh flavors in this salad without covering them up too much. There’s a subtle fruitiness to the dressing from the apple cider vinegar. In addition to its many nutritional benefits, apple cider vinegar also tastes delicious. Lately, it’s my go-to vinegar for everything from salad dressing to drinking shrubs.
Then, add in the Dijon mustard to thicken up the dressing. Dijon is a perfect replacement for your standard yellow mustard for a few reasons. First of all, it’s usually gluten-free. Unlike yellow mustard, Dijon usually does not use any flour to thicken up the condiment. Second of all, it’s a little bit spicier than standard mustard. This is a nice way to bring out flavors, especially in a salad dressing.
Finally, there’s the maple syrup. This stuff isn’t only for breakfast! It’s a delicious sweetener and a nice replacement for white sugar or honey. It’ll add a nice sense of depth to your cooking, so don’t be afraid to use this ingredient! I would definitely recommend using 100% maple syrup, which doesn’t have any corn syrups or added sugars.
Bring it all together with some fresh orange zest and you’ll find that this sweet maple Dijon dressing is the perfect compliment to this spicy kale salad. But don’t take our word for it – give it a try! I hope you’ll let us know what you think in the comments below.