A busy salad with lots going on. Chickpeas and quinoa for their protein, spinach, lamb’s lettuce, carrot, asparagus for their veg-y freshness, and nigella seeds because they’re tasty, pretty and good for you. A delish balsamic and cumin dressing with a bit of a kick seals the deal.
First of all. Lamb’s lettuce. Isn’t that one of the cutest names ever for a leafy green salad-y thing? It’s also known as corn salad and mache (I think the latter is the French name). And the cuteness goes on, as I discovered that “The Brothers Grimm’s tale Rapunzel may have taken its name from this plant, as the eponymous character is named for the “salad” which her father has come into the sorceress’ garden to steal. ‘Rapunzel’ is one of the German terms for corn salad.” (source: Wikipedia) It’s official name is Valerianella locusta. Here in Greece it’s called Valeriana, and it’s commonly found in packets next to the baby spinach or in ready-washed mixed salads. It’s very delicate tasting, and it’s beautifully soft and silky to the touch. Washing it is lovely! (Is that weird?)
Moving on. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked in the slow cooker of course, and quinoa are the backbone of this salad. To cook the garbanzos I used my recipe for soup (on my old blog), kept some to eat like that, and drained the rest. Some went in this salad and some went in zip-lock bags in the freezer, for future quick and easy meals. The quinoa I cooked slightly differently this time. I usually use the 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water, but this time I used 1:1.5. The result was a much firmer yet thoroughly cooked seed, perfect for this dish.
The carrot went through the spiralizer because I get bored chewing on sliced carrots in salads, I’m too greedy and it takes too long! The asparagus came out of a jar, but I think I will be using sautéed fresh ones as soon as I see them around. The nigella seeds… What a great idea that was! They were delicious, and apparently they are super good for you. Also known as black cumin or black caraway, they are the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant. Here they are mostly used on bread with sesame seeds (in Greek a common name for them is black sesame) so it’s nice to be able to suggest a tasty alternative use.
Finally, the dressing. Starring balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, cumin, chili powder and a bit of honey to bring some balance to it all. Jam jar method (shake it all up) and hey presto. Delish. This is a great Lenten meal (Lent is just around the corner!) and by substituting the honey with some agave nectar it is also vegan.