Salads are the moderators of all foods. Sometimes after a heavy lunch, the perfect dinner consists of lots of fresh veggies and a delicious sauce. This was my thought for dinner tonight. I have recently discovered many of the hidden culinary gems of northwest Arkansas – Mexican and Salvadoran restaurants in Springdale, just a few minutes north of Fayetteville. I am fortunate to work with the Springdale schools and have convenient access to some of the best taquerias and pupuserias in this part of Arkansas. The only downside of such good food is what it does to my waistline if eat it too often. If you happen to live in the area, Don Pedro’s restaurant on Sunset Avenue has possibly the best tortas I have ever tasted! Watch out for the red sauce, though. It has a pretty stiff kick!
I find myself rotating between Thai, Mexican and Indian foods a lot. The rich array of spices and flavors are so great and many of these dishes are fairly simple to put together. Switching back and forth between these with an American classic recipe thrown in here and there keeps any one kind of flavor from getting to boring. I owe thanks to a good friend in college, Farhan Khan, for introducing me to authentic Indian food. On occasion, I would go over to his parents’ house in Little Rock and watch his mother cook gracious amounts of Indian dishes from scratch. I remember the dozens of jars she had full of fresh Indian spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander and fenugreek. It was fascinating to watch her work her magic with the spices and bake picture-perfect naan – just right for dipping into a savory curry. I later learned that many of these spices have medicinal properties, which probably explains why people that eat these foods regularly enjoy good health. Bentonville, Arkansas, home base of Walmart, has some really good Indian restaurants and a great Indian grocery where I go sometimes to buy good spices and enjoy one of their delicious samosas.
If you want to give this salad a protein boost, a nice piece of blackened chicken shredded on top of the salad would go well. Also, you can switch the carrots for cabbage or some of crunchy veggie of your liking. Stay tuned for some good southern recipes I have acquired from my mother and aunt, two of the best cooks I know.
For the Sauce:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 inches ginger, chopped
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp peanut butter
For the salad:
- 2 bunches of broccoli, chopped in small florets
- one-15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated very thin
- 1 handful almonds, chopped finely
- 1 handful golden raisins
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Pulse the sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
- Place the broccoli and chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes or until they have a slight brown edge on them. Remove them from the oven and toss together in a large bowl. Add carrots, almonds and raisins and drizzle the sauce over the veggies liberally. Enjoy!