Vegan food is not something that comes naturally to me (how do you milk an almond???). My exposure to it was certainly limited growing up in Hamilton, one of the livestock capitals of the world. But a vegetarian flatmate and the lunch special at the Curry Pot (Naan, rice, raita, a chicken curry and a vegetarian curry for $9.90!) have shaken my ideals… “How does the vegetarian curry taste better than the chicken one?”
It seems to me that innovation and a meatless meal go hand in hand. Vegan cooks can’t rely on a flavoursome meat centrepiece to produce great tasting food, and are driven to pioneer new flavours as a result. And the economics of a triangular food chain mean that the herbs, spices and vegetables necessary for a meal packed with flavour will never cost as much as the cut of meat required to achieve the same. Give this chickpea salad a go. The lemon and parsley dressing gives it as much punch as your favourite marinated chicken, trust me.
** note, as I was feeding 8 hungry engineers, I caved and included some seared chicken thighs, but these are by no means necessary.
3 cans chickpeas, drained
1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 capsicums (type of your choice)
2 med onions, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200g cherry tomatoes
Spice blend (halve if not making chicken)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt (omit ½ if chickpeas are in brine)
½ lemon worth of rind.
Juice of 1 medium lemon + rind of half.
Juice of 2 medium lemons
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
Salt and pepper to taste
5 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1. Combine spice blend ingredients in a small bowl. Coat chicken thighs in half of the spice blend, then place under baking paper and pound any thick bits with a rolling pin to achieve a roughly uniform thickness. Refrigerate.
2. Toss the other half of the spice blend with the chickpeas and vegetables. Cook for 45 minutes at 180°C.
3. When the roast veges have 20 minutes to go, sear chicken thighs on a BBQ or skillet for 5 minutes each side or until internal temperature reaches 80°C. Form foil into a tent shape (this prevents the foil just acting as a cooling fin) and rest chicken thighs underneath.
4. Combine all dressing ingredients, blitzing with a stick blender if you feel inclined.
5. Warm tortillas using preferred method (I use a hot skillet: one by one dip in water, quickly sear each side and, transfer to a hot dinner plate under a damp paper towel)
6. Slice chicken and serve.