Most of the time, the way I come up with recipes is more of a brain exercise than it is a time to sit down and sketch out a recipe. I take an ingredient and I challenge myself to come up with 10 different recipe ideas that featured this ingredient only using the ideas floating around in my head and the Flavor Bible to make sure I’m not mentally concocting crazy pairings. I do this every couple of weeks for 4 to 5 different ingredients which has led me to an arsenal of recipe ideas. It’s a great way to stretch my creativity and I’ve also found it helps helps to drastically increase the amount of unique recipes I make. (There are of course exceptions when I try something at a restaurant or see a killer recipe I want to try).
I have some recipes that have been sitting in the cue for over a year, waiting their turn to be rounded out and tested. One of my earlier notes simply had written ‘za’atar + beets’. The slightly floral herby tint of the za’atar is one of my favorite ways to balance the earthiness to the beets. Later on, I tacked on ‘feta’ to this combination and for months, the recipe sat until just recently. As I enter in to the third trimester (!) of pregnancy, I’m pushing myself to eat well and to set good habits now (in hopes of keeping some semblance of healthy after the baby is born). And thus, I’ve been eating so many salads.
By combining the jotted note of za’atar beets with my current salad obsession, this recipe was born. I also started with tender chickpeas but realized this salad needed a nice crunch (which after roasting, the chickpeas provide). You can also make this vegan, simply leave off the feta (I love cheese, so it stays for me) and drop the honey from the dressing. Also, you can make your own za’atar or pick some up at a spice shop (I link to one of my favorites in the notes section of the recipe!)
Crispy Chickpea and Za'atar Beet Salad
- 1 can (about 1 1/2 cups) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bunch red beets
- 2 to 4 teaspoons Za'atar (homemade or purchased)
- 5-6 handfuls chopped or baby lettuce
- 1 ounce crumbled feta
- 1 tablespoon lemon dressing, as follows
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Salt/Pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400˚. Pat chickpeas completely dry on a clean towel and transfer to a baking sheet with edges. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shake pan until chickpeas are coated and roast for 45 minutes, until crisp. Remove, let cool, and continue to crisp while preparing the salad.
- Trim the ends from the beats and place in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil, and roast until beets are tender, 40 to 60 minutes (depending on size of beets). Let cool slightly then remove skin and cut into small pieces. Toss with 2 teaspoons of za'atar, adding more as desired.
- Assemble salad with lettuce, crispy chickpeas and feta- then layer beets on top and finish with a drizzle of lemon dressing.
- To make dressing, combine ingredients in a a jar with a tight lid and shake well. Use extras throughout the week.
by Erin Alderson