crispy chickpeas over roasted vegetables, spinach with spiced goat cheese-yogurt sauce

I created this dish on a Sunday evening after a long weekend out of town. My husband and I were craving something light and healthy after a few days of eating and drinking out. The warm, crispy chickpeas atop the fresh salad with roasted vegetables lend a hearty protein element without weighing down the dish. The creamy goat cheese-yogurt sauce is pungent, savory, and helps to bring together all the distinct elements of the dish. Each bite has a bit of spice and a bit of creamy sauce. This is Middle Eastern in flavor and is perfect for summertime when you run into many more vegetables and leafy greens in the market. You could substitute a variety of other greens (kale, romaine, arugula) and also try roasting baby potatoes or sweet potatoes instead of beets if you prefer. I recommend serving this dish with a well-rounded rose or light Pinot Noir. 

 

Salad: 

  • Red beets (3-4 medium-sized, even in size)

  • Carrots (3-4 large carrots, purchased loose at grocery store)

  • Olive oil (4 tablespoons total; 2 tablespoons for carrots plus 2 tablespoons for tossing salad)

  • Smoked paprika (1 teaspoon)

  • Cumin (1 teaspoon)

  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Fresh spinach leaves (about 3 cups)

  • Shallot (1 small shallot, finely diced)

  • Lemon zest (1/2 teaspoon)

  • White wine vinegar (2 teaspoons)

Crispy Chickpeas:

  • Garbanzo beans (2 cans, rinsed and drained)

  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)

  • Smoked paprika (2 teaspoons)

  • Cumin (2 teaspoons)

  • Baharat spice blend (1 teaspoon; can be purchased in specialty spice stores) 

  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Canola oil (3 tablespoons, for frying)

Goat Cheese-Yogurt Sauce:

  • Plain Greek yogurt (1/2 cup)

  • Goat cheese (1/2 cup, crumbled)

  • Cumin (2 teaspoons)

  • Baharat spice blend (1 teaspoon)

  • Salt (1 and 1/2 teaspoons)

  • Ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Remove the stems from the beets, and slice off the rough top and tip of each beet. 

  3. Using a fork, pierce each beet 3-4 times and then wrap each individually in aluminum foil, making sure each beet is completely covered.

  4. Place the beets on a baking sheet and bake in the over for 45 minutes, or until they are tender to pierce with a fork. Be sure not to overcook.

  5. Remove the beets from the oven and let cool on a cutting board. When cool, use your fingers to rub off the outer skin of each beet and chop into half-inch pieces. Set aside to toss in the salad. Do not toss salad with beets too early or beets will discolor other ingredients pink. 

  6. While the beets are baking, you can also prepare and roast the carrots. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer layer of skin from each large carrot. Cut each large carrot in half lengthwise, and then cut into thin half-moon pieces, about 1/4-inch thick.

  7. In an oven-safe shallow casserole dish, toss the carrot pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the paprika, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Ensure each piece is evenly coated with the oil and spice mixture.

  8. Roast the carrots for 30 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. The carrots should finish about the same time as the beets. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Set carrots aside to toss with the salad. 

  9. To assemble the base of the salad, toss the roasted beets and carrots with the fresh spinach leaves, diced shallot, plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Taste to ensure proper balance and seasoning; add additional salt if necessary. 

  10. To prepare the chickpeas, toss the drained chickpeas with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the paprika, cumin, baharat, and salt. Use a spatula to ensure the chickpeas are evenly coated.

  11. In a deep skillet, add three tablespoons of canola oil. Heat the skillet. Add the spiced chickpeas in a single layer, being careful not to crowd. Fry in two batches if necessary based on size of skillet.

  12. Chickpeas should fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown, fragrant, and slightly crispy.

  13. Remove the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and allow to cool and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat frying if doing in two batches.

  14. To prepare the yogurt sauce, add the yogurt, goat cheese, cumin, baharat, salt and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse until roughly blended. Stream in the olive oil until the sauce begins to come together into a smooth paste. Add warm water or additional olive oil until the sauce reaches desired thickness; it should be runny but not watery. Be sure to taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. 

  15. Serve the yogurt sauce on top of the warm chickpeas and salad in one large serving bowl.