Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons and Za’atar

 
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A vibrant salad bursting with bright colors and punchy flavors that will leave your tastebuds singing. It might sound like an odd combination, but the creamy avocado, sweet-tart grapefruit and crunchy chickpeas are all brought into perfect harmony by the spicy honey dressing. Add some fried tofu or grilled halloumi to make this into a more substantial meal.

vitality • main course • spring • VEGAN


 

There comes a point each winter when the very idea of eating another roasted squash makes me want to scream inside.

This usually happens around the second thaw, when I remember the possibility of sunlight on bare skin, green grass and birdsong. It’s usually associated with an intense sensation of yearning.

Do you know that feeling? Intense longing. The sap is running and I feel that energy zipping along in my blood too; a readiness for change and movement gurgling up from deep inside yet the change around me doesn’t seem to be keeping pace.  Impatience takes hold.

I long for bright sunlight and flowers and green grass so badly that just an image in a magazine is enough to make my heart feel too large for my chest.

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It’s about this time that I start craving salad.

I don’t like salad in the winter, unless it involves something warm and roasted nestled in amongst the greenery. But that all changes when the mercury starts to climb. I want bright flavors – sunny flavors – and plates filled with color and contrast. I want to crunch into things and feel uplifted and energized by the hum of spice and citrus playing across my palate.

This salad is all of that. Creamy avocado and bright jewel-like segments of ruby red grapefruit. Crunchy and peppery chickpea croutons and a dressing that is just the right combination of sweet, sour and spice.

It might not be spring, but it tastes like spring. And for now, that will have to be enough.

 
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Grapefruit and avocado salad with crispy chickpea croutons and za'atar

Prep Time 20 min • Cook Time 30 min • Total Time 50 min

 

Serves 4

For the chickpea croutons:

  • 15 oz (425 g) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 2 pink or ruby red grapefruits

  • 2 avocados

  • 4 cups (80 g) mixed micro greens or mesclun mix

  • 4 tsp za'atar mix for topping

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp grapefruit juice

  • 1.5 tbsp runny honey

  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes

  • 1/2 tsp sumac

  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

For the chickpea croutons:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the rinsed and drained chickpeas with the olive oil, salt and several generous grinds of black pepper (note: I like the croutons to be fairly peppery which takes about 4-5 grinds of pepper with my mill, but of course, season to your personal taste). Mix well, so the chickpeas are evenly coated.

  3. Place the chickpeas on a baking tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, shaking the tray occasionally, until the chickpeas are nicely browned, crisp and beginning to split open. You want them to be nice and crunchy so bake a little longer if you're on the fence. 

  4. Once nicely browned and crisp, turn off the oven and set the chickpeas aside to cool down.

For the salad veg:

  1. Using a small, sharp knife, top and tail the grapefruit and then cut down the sides to remove the skin and white pith. 

  2. Now, working over a colander placed over a bowl, carefully cut in between the membranes to remove the individual grapefruit segments. The idea is that you want to catch as much juice as possible for your dressing, so once you've finished cutting the grapefruits, you can take the discarded segments and squeeze them out over the colander as well. You will need about 30 g or 2 tablespoons of juice to collect in your bowl.

  3. Slice the avocados in half and remove the stone. Slice the flesh into strips and then use a spoon to carefully remove the slices from the skin.

For the dressing:

Combine 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice that you collected with the honey, chili flakes, sumac, lemon juice, olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a small jar or bowl. Mix well and taste for seasoning, adding more chili, honey, lemon or salt as you desire. 

To assemble:

For each serving, place a generous handful of greens into a wide shallow bowl or plate. Arrange the grapefruit segments and avocados on top of the greens, add a generous handful of chickpea croutons and a drizzle or two of dressing. Finally, finish off with a sprinkle of za'atar and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix most typically containing sesame seeds, thyme, oregano and salt. You can easily find it online or in any well-stocked grocery store.

  • Powdered sumac adds a lovely, fruity-tart flavor to the salad. If you can't find it, just add an extra squeeze of lemon. 


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Za'atar spice blend

sumac spice

aleppo chili


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