sweet + salty snack mix

sweet + salty snack mix | The Clever carrot

Oftentimes, I forget to blog about the everyday things.

We make a lot of stuff in this house that never makes it to post. For example, my weekly chicken cutlets? Never blogged it. My baked salmon? Nope, not today. Oh, wait- how about my turkey meatballs with leeks and spinach? Exactly. Maybe it’s because these things are so routine I no longer find them interesting. But perhaps you will? This snack mix is the perfect example of common neglect. I make a batch every 1-2 weeks depending on how much we go through. We enjoy it by the handful.

I separate the mix into individual bags for on the go convenience.

sweet + salty snack mix | The Clever Carrot

All of the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s. And yes, I live in that store.

  • mini multiseed rice crackers
  • organic whole dried cranberries
  • roasted unsalted cashews
  • chocolate covered sunflower seeds

chocolate covered sunflower seeds | The Clever Carrotsweet + salty snack mix | The Clever Carrot

The multiseed crackers (those round things) are flavored with tamari which gives the mix that deep, salty flavor. They’re also gluten free. If you can’t find them, a similar sub would be those funky shaped oriental rice crackers. You could also use mini M&M’s for the chocolate covered sunflower seeds too. I combine everything together in one big dish and then portion it out accordingly. Altogether, I think it takes about 5 or 6 minutes. It’s great to have a healthy snack all set and ready to go for whenever you need it.

This is what I grab at 3 o’clock when I’m craving a little something. I’m a total sucker for salty + sweet.

Tips:

  • The measurements in this recipe are meant as a guide. Play around to suit your taste. 
  • I double checked the product section on the Trader Joe’s website, and all of the ingredients are gluten free.
5.0 from 1 reviews

sweet + salty snack mix
 
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Author:
Serves: 5½ cups

Ingredients
  • 1½ c. mini multiseed rice crackers (soy + tamari flavor)
  • 2 c. roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1 c. whole dried cranberries
  • 1 c. chocolate covered sunflower seeds.
*If you can’t find multiseed rice crackers, you can substitute with oriental rice crackers. You can also use mini M&M’s for the chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Make adjustments to suit your taste.
  2. Store in an airtight container or portion into snack size bags.

char-grilled chopped asparagus salad with smashed pita chips

char-grilled chopped asparagus salad with smashed pita chips | The Clever Carrot

I have the unfortunate ability to remember every meal that I’ve ever eaten.

It’s a curse really. I’m not sure how or when it all started (I blame genetics), but my brain is riddled with recipes. If I’ve ever dined with you, chances are I will remember what you ate too. Going back almost 7 years ago now, I had a version of this salad at a restaurant. It was so good. All it took was a bag of pita chips to trigger my memory and then this little creation was born.

For the base, I’m using fat asparagus stalks. They’re perfect for grilling and I prefer these to the skinny ones. It’s still too cold to grill outside, so I used my trusty old griddle pan to get the job done. That char-grilled flavor is worth smoking out the kitchen.

grilled asparagus | The Clever Carrot

Roasted peppers also make an appearance in this dish. I usually have 1 or 2 jars lying around in my pantry. Oh wait, I don’t have a pantry. I have jam packed, stuffed to the brim cabinets. That’s where they live. See how I use them here + here.

roasted peppers | The Clever Carrot

And then for my latest find, fresh mozzarella pearls. I’ve never seen these before in my life! For that reason, you probably won’t be able to find them either. It was a chance find in a grocery store that I never, ever shop in. They’re super cute, just the right size, and taste just as good as they look. Whole chopped mozzarella will work too.

fresh mozzarella pearls | The Clever Carrot

Too cute, right? Told you.

char-grilled chopped asparagus salad with smashed pita chips | The Clever Carrot

Oh, and the pita chips! You know, the crunchy smashed bits I forgot to photograph? Obviously the star of the show. I’m telling you, they are the best thing that has ever happened to a chopped salad.

Tips:

  • If you don’t keep an eye on them, it is very easy to overcook asparagus. It is best to undercook them slightly as they will continue to cook once removed from the grill. 
  • Everything can be prepped in advance, including the vinaigrette up to 2 days.
  • I like to use Stacy’s Pita Chips or Trader Joe’s brand. 
5.0 from 3 reviews

char-grilled chopped asparagus salad with smashed pita chips
 
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Author:
Serves: 4

Ingredients
Vinaigrette
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ garlic clove
  • ½ c. olive oil
Salad
  • 1 bunch medium- fat asparagus stalks
  • 1x 14 oz. can of chickpeas
  • ½ c. diced roasted peppers (I used red + yellow)
  • ¾ c. fresh mozzarella ‘pearls’ or whole mozzarella diced
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
Garnish
  • 2 handfuls of pita chips (I used Stacy’s brand)
  • ½ c. crumbled goat cheese

Instructions
  1. To make the vinaigrette, add all of the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus. Add the stalks to a large bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt + pepper.
  3. Warm a griddle pan or outdoor grill over moderate heat.
  4. Grill the asparagus until crisp tender, about 2-3 minutes per side depending on how thick they are. Transfer to a cutting board and dice into ½ inch pieces. *See note below.
  5. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
  6. Remove the roasted peppers from the jar and pat dry with paper towels to remove the extra moisture. Dice into ½ inch pieces.
  7. To a large salad bowl, add the asparagus, chickpeas, and peppers.
  8. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss gently to combine.
  9. Taste the salad and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Right before serving, add the mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese.
  11. Gently smash the pita chips and crumble over the top.
  12. Serve with extra vinaigrette on the side.

Notes
* If you don’t keep an eye on them, it is very easy to overcook asparagus. It is best to undercook them slightly as they will continue to cook once removed from the grill.

char-grilled chopped asparagus salad with smashed pita chips | The Clever Carrot

crispy oven roasted chickpeas

crispy oven roasted chickpeas | The Clever Carrot

I have many nemeses in the culinary world, and this is one of them.

Perhaps you’ve heard of roasted chickpeas before and you would expect them to be nice and crispy, right? Hot oven = crispy skin. But when you go to make them, they’re not very crispy at all. I’m not exactly sure of the science behind this, but all I know is that if you cook them for too long they will completely dry out; if you under cook them they will be soft, not crispy.

Then I read somewhere that the secret is to remove the outer skin from each and every bean. Apparently, this is the culprit. I’ve done this once before when I was on a quest to make creamy hummus, and it’s a total pain in the ass. Never again.

Honestly, I’d rather scrub a bathtub.

crispy oven roasted chickpeas | The Clever Carrot

And then I had an epiphany… I was making chicken cutlets for the kids the other day when I thought, I should just bread the darn things! I will create a crispy layer for the outside while the inside stays soft and creamy.

Here’s what I do:

Rinse, drain, and dry the chickpeas as best as you can. Make peace with the fact that they will never be completely dry (this is OK). Roll them in flour. I found that this was a necessary step in order to soak up the extra moisture. Coat them in egg wash. This will help the crumbs stick to the beans. Dust in seasoned bread crumbs, parmesan cheese & spices. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet and spray the heck out of them with cooking spray. A nice even application will yield golden, crispy beans. Bake @425 for 15 minutes.

crispy oven roasted chickpeas | The Clever Carrotcrispy oven roasted chickpeas | The Clever Carrot

If you follow these steps, you will have beautiful roasted chickpeas every time. They are especially good with a squeeze of lemon over the top. Use this recipe as a base for adding your own seasonings too. It’s a wonderful and healthy alternative to a bag of chips! Serve warm.

Tips:

  • I use regular seasoned breadcrumbs in this recipe, however Panko breadcrumbs would be good as well. Just make sure that they’re seasoned for the best flavor.
  • When setting up your breading station, shallow bowls are ideal. The wide surface area makes it easier to roll the beans around.
  • Try these crispy chickpeas in salads and soup.
5.0 from 1 reviews

oven roasted parmesan chickpeas
 
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Author:
Serves: 2

Ingredients
Beans
  • 1x 14 oz. can of chickpeas
  • ¼ c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. sweet smoked paprika
  • ¼ c. ground parmesan cheese
  • ½ c. Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs*
  • salt + pepper
  • olive oil cooking spray
Egg wash
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • splash of water
Garnish
  • 1 lemon
* You can also use seasoned Panko breadcrumbs.
**When setting up your breading station, shallow bowls are ideal. The wide surface area makes it easier to roll the beans around.
***Try these crispy chickpeas in salads and soup.

Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil spray.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Pat dry with paper towels as best you can (they will not be completely dry).
  3. For the egg wash, lightly beat the egg and water in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place the flour into a bowl.
  5. Combine the garlic powder, paprika, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Mix well until everything is blended together.
  6. To bread the chickpeas, you will need to work in batches. Begin by rolling a small portion in flour shaking off any excess as you go.
  7. Coat them in the egg wash, draining off the extra liquid.
  8. Add them to the bread crumb mixture. Toss well with your hands so that they are evenly coated. Repeat this process until you have used up all of the beans.
  9. Place the chickpeas onto the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Coat thoroughly with olive oil spray. Shake the pan once or twice to move them around and spray the beans again. They key to a golden crust it to make sure that they have an even application of oil.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking time.
  12. Remove from the oven and season with salt + pepper.
  13. Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon (if desired).