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Author Notes: Why is it called a taco salad? "It's all the things you love about a taco, in salad form," writes Heidi Swanson, whose recipe is the inspiration for this one. And I'm on board.
I zigzagged away from the original recipe, switching from sautéed tempeh to roasted chickpeas, replacing the ketchup-based dressing with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, and making a simple DIY "taco seasoning" instead of buying a jar from the store.
A few recipe notes:
- If you want to cut back on your prep time, spread the chickpeas on a paper towel-lined baking sheet in the morning, then stick them the fridge until you're ready to bake.
- All of the cooked components—the chickpeas, the tomatoes, and the vinaigrette—can be made in advance.
- I like to make extra chickpeas, tomatoes, and vinaigrette. The chickpeas make a crouton alternative for all ranges of soups and cooked vegetables, and with the dressing and the roasted tomatoes, you're all set up to riff on this Half-Roasted Tomato Salad with Salsa Verde—or a really good piece of ricotta-topped toast. —Sarah Jampel
For the chickpeas, the cilantro-lime vinaigrette, and the roasted tomatoes:
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned
- 1 bunch cilantro, long stems trimmed and discarded (about 4 cups loosely packed)
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and white membranes removed, roughly chopped
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or agave
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 heaping cups cherry tomatoes (about 300 grams), with any larger ones halved
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 dash cayenne
- Spread the chickpeas onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Gently blot them dry with more towels, then leave to air-dry for about an hour.
- Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, honey, salt, and about half of the jalapeño. Blend until the cilantro has been finely chopped and the oil is emulsified. Taste for acid, salt, and sugar and adjust accordingly. Blend in the other half of the jalapeño if you want more heat.
- When the chickpeas have been drying for nearly an hour, heat the oven to 400° F. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the tomatoes on top. Add the smashed garlic cloves, then drizzle olive oil on top, season with salt, and toss to combine,
- Transfer the chickpeas to a dry baking sheet (without parchment paper). Put both trays—the chickpeas and the tomatoes—in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring the chickpeas every 10.
- Stir the spices together in a small bowl. When the chickpeas come out of the oven, toss them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the spice mix. Allow to cool slightly—they'll get even crunchier!
To assemble the salad:
- 1 head romaine, thinly sliced and washed and dried well
- One 15-ounce can black beans, drained, rinsed, and dried
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 handful corn tortilla chips, broken up into large bits or halves
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
- Combine the romaine, black beans, and scallions in a large bowl.
- Distribute among individual bowls, then top with the chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, avocado, and crumbled tortilla chips. Toss with the cilantro vinaigrette. (You can also do this all in one big bowl—but things won't stay as pretty!)
- This recipe is a Community Pick!