Grilled Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas | Anna Jones (The Modern Cook’s Year)

After making the recent decision to adopt a veganish diet, I have been browsing a lot of books for inspiration.  Anna Jones’ three books (so far) are always a good start for plant-based eating.  Lots of delicious and relatively fuss-free recipes.  The only criticism is that some of the portion sizes are a bit on the scant side so I often have to adjust accordingly.  

Knowing I had half a jar of chickpeas left to use, Anna Jones’ recently browsed recipe for Grilled Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas in The Modern Cook’s Year stuck out.  All I needed was a little gem lettuce – I lucked out with an Organic Cos lettuce from the reduced aisle in Sainsbury’s.  With half an open jar in of anchovies in the fridge from Ottolenghi’s simple Gigli with chickpeas and za’atar, I decided to go for a classic caesar dressing rather than Anna’s tahini-yoghurt variant of the classic anchovy-mayonnaise.  It’ll be interesting to see how her option pans out the next time I make this salad… and there will be a next time.

There is no comparison between a delicious crunchy crouton and a chickpea, but it’s a worthy experiment in the interest of being a bit healthier.  I tossed the chickpeas in half a teaspoon of garlic powder and a whole teaspoon of smoked paprika to give them a bit more oomph.  I wasn’t adding parmesan so any extra umami is desirable.

The main difference between this and a standard caesar is the charring of the lettuce.  Only a slight char from a hot griddle.  Too long on the heat and the lettuce would go limp – we’re still looking for a firm bite.

Grilled Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas Anna Jones The Modern Cook's Year
Grilled Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas | Cooked cos lettuce… isn’t bad at all.

I don’t think that in all my cooking experiments, I have ever roasted a chickpea.  After their spell in a hot oven they took on a satisfying crunch, seeming to hollow out.  A surprisingly good substitute for a crouton and a good snack to have with a beer.

Would I cook this Grilled Caesar salad again? For sure.  It was a tasty light dinner, but would equally make a nice starter.  I can’t really comment on Anna Jones’ recipe as a whole, but maybe next time I’ll make her tahini-yoghurt caesar dressing.

Crispy chickpeas and caesar dressing Anna Jones The Modern Cook's Year
Going back for the leftover caesar dressing and chickpeas.

Crispy Chickpeas… for snacking or adding crunch.

250g Chickpeas (1 can or 1/2 jar)
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 240 degrees / 220 fan.
Mix the chickpeas, oil, spices and salt in a bowl.  Add a few twists of black pepper.
Tip the oily chickpeas onto an oven tray and roast for 25 minutes.

Crispy Chickpeas The Modern Cook's Year Anna Jones