RECIPE: Crispy Rice & Chickpea Salad with Charred Peppers, Olives & Lemons

This recipe links to the post ‘Victorious Vegetarianism’

Serves 2IMG_5930.JPG

  • 1/2 cup red rice
  • 1/2 400g tin chickpeas
  • 1 lemon, sliced wafer thin
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 sweet pointed red peppers (normal bell peppers will also work)
  • 2cm piece of cucumber, sliced wafer thin
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • salt & pepper
  • coconut oil
  • fresh dill

For the dressing

  • 75ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp french mustard
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  1. If possible soak your rice & chickpeas (yes even the canned ones!) overnight in separate bowls of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in each. Drain and rinse them well (if you haven’t soaked give them an extra extra good wash) and pop the rice into a small pan with 1 1/4 cups of fresh water (1 1/2 if un-soaked). Bring to a boil then turn down to low, cover with a lid and leave to gently simmer until all the water is absorbed, 25-30 minutes or possibly 30-35 with the un-soaked. The chickpeas can just chill in the sieve for now.
  2. Grate your garlic and leave to one side to oxidise for 10 mins. Meanwhile juice your lemon and add to a jar with the rest of the dressing ingredients. Once the garlic is ready squish it with the back of your knife so it becomes a paste then add to the jar and give everything a shake. Leave to infuse whilst you get on with the rest.
  3. Preheat the grill on medium and move a shelf to the centre of the oven. Wash and dry your peppers then put on a baking tray and pop under the grill, you may hear popping, this is all fine. Keep an eye on them, turn every 7-8 minutes or so as they start to char, in total you want to roast them for about 20-25 minutes until they’re beautifully soft and juicy.
  4. Whilst everything else is cooking away slice your onion and lemon in half and then into very thin slivers. Add to a small bowl with the halved tomatoes, wafer thin cucumber, 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar and a couple of grinds of salt and pepper, toss everything together and leave to macerate.
  5. When your peppers are ready take them out and let them cool for a couple of minutes, then you should be able to easily pull the stalks out with some of the seeds, gently open them up to remove the rest of the seeds if they decide not to play ball. Leave them to cool and then tear or chop into thickish slices. Also now de-stone and chop your olives in to biggish pieces.
  6. Prep your spinach, I like to use big fresh organic spinach leaves (the ones that are more triangular and closer to chard in texture) rather than the baby leaf but if this is all you have, never fear it will work but you might need a tad more and to dress it right at the last minute.
  7. Now for the fun bit. Take a large frying pan and heat it on a medium heat, add your chickpeas and rice and toast lightly to steam off any excess water. Once dry, add 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and listen to the noise change, you go from a steamy hiss to a crispy crackle which is exactly what we want.
  8. Toss your spinach with a few teaspoons of the dressing and divide between 2 plates. Pick some sprigs of fresh dill for your garnish.
  9. Keep the mix in the pan moving so it doesn’t catch but not so much that it doesn’t have a chance to crisp up, you want to toast it for about 10 minutes. Then add your beautiful smokey peppers and olives, mix these through gently then push to one side of the pan and tip in your tomatoes, cucumber, lemons and onions. You want these to warm through so the lemons release some of their fragrant oils and the tomatoes start to burst slightly but not so they fully cook, this should take 2-3 minutes. Then quickly mix everything so just combined but the moisture from the tomatoes etc doesn’t de-crisp your rice and chickpeas.
  10. Tumble out on top of your spinach and scatter over the fresh dill. Serve with the extra dressing on the side.

If you want to make extra for a delicious lunch the next day it will travel well. I would suggest not dressing the spinach and combining everything once cool then adding the dressing when you come to eat it though to avoid sogginess.

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