Creamy Avocado & Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Creamy Avocado & Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Here is my favourite summer kale salad that I’ve had on high rotation over the past few months. It has a deliciously creamy dressing made from massaging avocado into the kale, which also softens the leaves making them easier to eat and digest. Add in cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, sauerkraut and crispy chickpeas and you have the most delicious salad.

This is an easily adaptable recipe so if you don’t have all the ingredients you can usually sub in something else and it will still work. That said, the one ingredient you can’t really sub is the avocado. This is because it forms the base of this salads creamy dressing and there isn’t really a good substitute for an avocado used in this way.

Of course, avocado provides a good dose of healthy fats, while kale brings a hefty dose of antioxidants and doubles down on the fibre, sauerkraut brings the probiotics and chickpeas provide a delicious plant based protein element. I think this might just be the perfect salad!

In terms of substitutions, if you don’t have any kale or are simply not a fan, then by all means swap it out for your favourite lettuce leaves. If you’re not a cucumber fan then swap it for any other crunchy salad vegetable such as sugar snap peas, celery or radish. Cherry tomatoes should be fairly easy to find, but if you need to sub these then you could use sun-dried tomatoes, fresh strawberries or even peach slices. And if you can’t be bothered making your own crispy chickpeas you can simply buy them or substitute for some crispy seed crackers.

 

Creamy Avocado & Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Creamy Avocado & Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30 minutes Bake time: 10 minutes (optional)

2 extra large handfuls of curly kale or cavalo nero
1 ripe avocado
1 lemon, juiced (or 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
salt + pepper
1/4 cup sauerkraut
1/4 telegraph cucumber
1 handful of cherry or heirloom tomatoes
2 handfuls crispy chickpeas (store bought or see recipe below)
2 Tbsp hemp seeds (optional)

If making your own crispy chickpeas follow the instructions below.

Wash the kale well, break into bite sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.

Remove the skin and stone from the avocado and add to the bowl along with the lemon juice and nutritional yeast.

Season with salt and pepper, then use your hands to massge it all together. You’re aiming to create a creamy dressing by mixing the avocado, lemon juice and nutritional yeast, while massaging the kale to make it easier to eat.

Wash and cut the cucumber into bite sized chunks and wash and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Fold both through the salad along with the crispy chickpeas.

Sprinkle with hemp seeds if desired and serve.

Salad will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but the chickpeas will lose their crunch so if possible only add them right before you wish to eat the salad.

 

Crispy Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas
2 tsp avocado, macadamia or coconut oil
1 tsp curry powder
pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan bake. Drain the chickpeas, rinse and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

Transfer the chickpeas to a small bowl and toss with oil, curry powder and salt. Place the chickpeas on a baking tray and cook in the centre of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy.

 

Creamy Avocado & Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Roasted Aubergine With Tomato, Pine Nut & Olive Topping

Roasted Aubergine With Tomato, Pine Nut & Olive Topping

 

I created this roasted aubergine with tomato, pine nut & olive topping recipe because whenever I see aubergines in the store, there’s something about their shiny dark purple skin that compels me to put one in my basket.

This is probably no coincidence. Nature is clever and had this in mind (although it was aiming for birds and bees) when it created the beautiful pigmented anthocyanins which give aubergines and many other fruit and vegetables their colour.

Aside from producing pretty pigments, anthocyanins have some hugely beneficial antioxidant properties that can help protect against many of the prevalent chronic diseases afflicting the western world today. This is also why eating a range of colourful fruit and vegetables is such an important part of maintaining a healthy body.

Surprisingly though, up until now there were no aubergine recipes on Swoon Food! So today aubergines get to be the star of the show.

The secret to cooking aubergine is to cook it for much longer than you think you need to. If you’re not an aubergine fan it could be that you just haven’t tried it properly cooked yet. The flesh needs to lose it’s rubberiness and become so soft and melty that it falls away from the skin. The easiest way to achieve this is to cut it in half, score the fleshy side, lightly brush with oil and roast it in a hot oven for the good part of an hour.

 

 

Now that I’m eating entirely plant based, this recipe naturally had to fit with that. I also wanted it to be completely sugar and inflammatory foods free so that I could use it in the plant based menu of my 10 Day Sugar Cleanse program.

This meant as well as being plant based, sugar, dairy, gluten and grain free, it also had to be soy free – as much as I love a miso topped aubergine!

You might be thinking, is soy really that inflammatory?

Well the short answer is it depends what kind of soy. If you’re going to eat soy it’s best to opt for organic, GMO free where possible, and this can be very beneficial for many people. However, there are also many who can’t even tolerate that kind, myself included. So for my 10 Day Sugar Cleanse program we err on the safe side and leave it out.

 

 

When considering flavours that go well with aubergine, ingredients such as tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, fresh rosemary and parsley all sprung to mind.

This made me think of the classic Italian dish puttanesca, as well as a chunky tomato pesto. So I combined the two to create a flavoursome topping to compliment aubergine’s soft mellow flavour.

To top it all off I whipped up a creamy cashew sauce, which is so versatile if you have any leftovers it can be  tossed with pasta or zoodles, drizzled over falafel, used as a salad dressing or drizzled over caramelised sweet potatoes with crispy chickpeas.

Enjoy these stuffed aubergines straight from the oven while still warm, and serve with a big green side salad.

I hope you enjoy this aubergine recipe, and if you make it be sure to come back and tell me what you think in the comments below.

ROASTED AUBERGINE WITH TOMATO, PINE NUT & OLIVE TOPPING

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes

1 aubergine

Topping
2 tsp avocado, macadamia or coconut oil
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 handful white button mushrooms
1 handful fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
pink Himalayan salt & black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp savoury yeast flakes
1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful fresh thyme
1/4 cup pine nuts

Creamy Cashew Sauce
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of pink Himalayan salt

To roast the aubergine:
Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan bake.

Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and score the flesh so you end up with a diamond pattern.

Lightly brush the cut surfaces with a little oil the place the aubergine on a lined baking tray and into the centre of the oven to roast for approximately 40 to 50 minutes. The aubergine is ready when the cut sides turn golden and the flesh becomes all soft and melty. If it’s still firm and rubbery, return it to the oven and keep cooking until you can pull the flesh out with just a fork.

To make the topping:
Toast the pine nuts by placing on a lined tray in the oven (alongside the aubergine) for 5 to 10 minutes.

Finely cut the onion, crush the garlic, cut the mushrooms and tomatoes into small pieces, roughly chop the parsley and strip the leaves off the thyme (do this by running your thumb and first finger down the stalk).

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until the onion starts to soften then add the garlic, mushrooms and tomato. If it starts to get too dry, add 1/4 cup of water. Cook a few more minutes, then add the olives, spices, yeast flakes, and season with salt & pepper.

Lastly fold in the herbs and pine nuts and remove from heat.

To make the creamy cashew sauce:
Make the creamy cashew sauce by placing all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

To serve: 
Place the aubergine halves on serving plates, pile up a generous helping of puttanesca topping on each, and drizzle with the creamy cashew sauce.

Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.