Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad and Pan-fried Chickpea Salad

Just making and enjoying a variety of different salads recently is making me feel like summer is right around the corner. There's also something about cold or room-temperature food that automatically seems lighter and healthier... I guess that's the whole point of the raw-food movement. Crispy, crunchy deliciously good.

I couldn't choose between two recipes I had found for Thursday night's dinner so I ended up making both. Each of them was unique and delicious in its own right. The first, with shaved raw Brussels sprouts had an unusual sprinkling of delicate egg confetti on top and ended up being a filling side dish. Luckily my kids love Brussels sprouts so they never turn up their noses up at the prospect of eating them, although we typically eat them cooked rather than raw, as they were in this cold salad. I used my food processor to make quick work of the shredding part but the other steps of this recipe were easy but more time-consuming. Gotta hard-boil, peel, separate and rice (yes, rice) some eggs, juice the three citrus fruits, simmer and reduce the dressing, and toast up some nuts. Phew. But the result was a crunchy, flavourful and zesty accompaniment to the pork. The only thing that might have improved it would have been some salty shavings of Parmigiano, but maybe I'm biased because this is how I eat a similar salad at one of my favourite local restaurants, Gio Rana's.

The second salad, pan-fried chickpeas in a smoothly spicy yogurt sauce, was my kids' favourite of the two. This was a quick and easy recipe--just a couple of steps of frying the chickpeas to a golden brown to bring out their nutty flavour and crisp them slightly, and tossing them with the creamy dressing. I even went back for seconds because it was so tasty.

serves 4 as a side dish

1 tbsp butter or oil

2 cups cooked chickpeas (or canned), patted dry

1 cup chopped leeks

1 garlic clove, minced

zest of one lemon

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1 1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped red onion

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chickpeas. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they become a bit golden in colour. Stir in the leeks and cook until the chickpeas are more golden and the leeks have browned a bit too, about 7 to 10 minutes in total. Then stir in the garlic and lemon zest. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the chickpeas cool, make the yogurt dressing by combining the yogurt, curry powder and some salt in a small bowl. Taste, adjust and set aside.

When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the chickpea mixture with most of the cilantro and red onion. Add about 1/2 of the yogurt dressing and toss again. Add more dressing if you like. Serve at room temperature with the remaining onions and cilantro.

serves 4

1 orange, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 small shallot, minced
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
20 to 30 raw Brussels sprouts, depending on size
1⁄2 cup toasted almonds, chopped

In a small saucepan, combine the orange, lemon and lime juices and simmer over moderate heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Whisk in the minced shallot and the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Separate the yolks and whites from the hard-boiled eggs. Press them through a potato ricer, separately.

Using a mandoline, carefully shave each Brussels sprout, holding on the stem end, or use a food processor to slice the sprouts thinly and quickly. Toss the shaved Brussels sprouts with the vinaigrette and transfer it to a serving bowl. Top with the egg whites, followed by the yolks and almonds. Serve.

Rest of the week

May 3 Skillet macaroni and cheese with tri-color pepper salad

May 4 Grilled salmon with soy/honey sauce and grilled veggies with salad

May 5 Pork tenderloin with chickpea salad and Brussels sprouts salad