spiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad

spiced eggplant, chicken + chickpea salad | theclevercarrot.com

I’ve developed a new habit.

In our new house, the mailbox is no longer at the end of the driveway. It is conveniently located right outside our front door attached to the house (PS- it was originally this tacky, faux gold color that I updated with Annie Sloan paint and is now a lovely shade of Paris Grey. Her stuff is amazing). Anyway, when the mail comes I poke my head out the door, lift the lid, and have a look at what’s inside. I rustle though all of the envelopes and if there’s not an abundance of catalogues in there including the latest issue of Pottery Barn, I’m really not that interested (who needs bills?!).

So, I close the lid and go back inside… without the mail….

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parmesan + herb baked chickpeas

parmesan + herb baked chickpeas | theclevercarrot.com

Because I just can’t leave well enough alone, I’ve transformed this recipe into the ultimate snack.

If you recall, baking chickpeas was a total nightmare; they were either too soft or completely dried out. To get them crispy, I use my chicken cutlet method (i.e. flour + egg + breadcrumbs) to create a crunchy outer layer while leaving the inside soft and creamy. The trick is to coat them generously with cooking spray and bake briefly at a high temperature.

And now for the upgrade……

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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. 

char-grilled chopped asparagus salad with smashed pita chips
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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