Vegan Baconed Chickpea Salad with Ranch Dressing

There's an apron I've been eyeing for the past 4 months.  I saw it in a magazine, and thought, "Wow, that apron is really awesome!  If I could justify spending that much money on a piece of cloth to hang around my neck, I would buy it today."  To be fair, it is a very cool design--slightly hippie, a little rustic, and yet, so simple.  Sometimes, I visit the picture of it online.  I just want to know that it's still out there.

After my husband and I enjoyed this salad recipe today, he said, "You have absolutely earned that apron.  That tasted amazing!  Order the apron!"  I hemmed and hawed about the expense, and he said, "Order it!  NOW!"  If this salad is style-cat-apron-worthy, you have to know that means it is a DAMN GOOD salad!  

Recently, I ate a salad at a plant based burger place in town.  The salad was good, but I thought I could do it better.  And thus, we have this salad.  I did not want to do the expected "tempeh bacon", and instead, I wanted to figure out how to make chickpeas bring the bacon flavor.  I came up with a quick, easy "Baconed Chickpea" recipe.  I also wanted to come up with a ranch dressing that used fresh herbs (perfect for summer!), and would compliment the chickpeas well.  The rest of the salad I thought about texture--crunch, chewiness, and crispness.  In the end, it turned out to be an amazing salad for this sweltering summer afternoon in the US's Pacific Northwest.  

As a variation, change up the vegetables in the salad.  It's a salad, so the line up does not need to be static.  Or make the baconed chickpeas, make the ranch dressing, and throw them on a wrap with some tomato, lettuce, avocado and raw sunflower seeds.  

Vegan Baconed Chickpea Salad with Ranch Dressing.jpg

Baconed Chickpea Salad with Ranch Dressing

Baconed Chickpeas:

1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tsp hot sauce

½ tsp garlic powder

Squeeze of lemon juice

Ranch Dressing:

1 cup plant based mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise)

¼ cup fresh dill, packed

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, packed

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion granules

1 scallion, white part only

Salt 

Black pepper

Salad:

Red leaf lettuce

Kale

Shredded red cabbage

Julienned carrots

Sliced celery

Halved grape tomatoes

Raw sunflower seeds

Cooked spelt berries or cooked quinoa (for a gluten-free option), optional

Vegan Baconed Chickpeas.jpg

1. In a large skillet over low heat, add olive oil and finely chopped garlic.  Let the garlic simmer in the oil, but not brown or burn for 3 minutes.  This will help infuse the olive oil with a garlic flavor.  

2. Add the chickpeas and smoked paprika, and stir it around the skillet for another 2 minutes over medium heat.  Add the soy sauce, hot sauce, and garlic powder, and stir around for another minute until well incorporated.  

3.  Add the lemon juice, and remove from heat.  Taste, and add more salt, if needed.  Spoon the chickpeas into a mixing bowl, and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or during the time it takes to prepare the rest of the salad.

Vegan Ranch Dressing

4. Put everything listed under "Ranch Dressing" in a food processor or blender.  Blend until mostly smooth.  Set aside.

Vegan Baconed Chickpea Salad with Ranch Dressing

5. Assemble the salad, add chickpeas, and dressing.  How much of each vegetable you use is a matter of taste, but  I used 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes and sliced them, 2 celery stalks, ½ cup julienned carrots, ½ English cucumber, ⅓ cup of raw sunflower seeds, a bed of red leaf lettuce, two handfuls of kale, and ¼ cup sliced red cabbage.  Change it up, add some avocado or maybe use spinach instead of kale.  Sky is the limit, but don't skip out on the raw sunflower seeds unless you absolutely hate them.  It was a really nice element! 

Vegan Baconed Chickpea Salad with Ranch Dressing.jpg