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Author Notes: This was an off-the-cuff toss-together for dinner, and turned out to be surprisingly delicious - both hot and cold (hint hint: workweek lunch in one batch. Done.).
*Note: I added the iceberg lettuce as a last-minute addition after testing this again and finding that the crunch was a nice compliment to the other textures in the salad. However, the salad without it is also very satisfying! —Jr0717
For the salad:
- 1 cup cauliflower rice, or if you prefer, a grain of your choice (farro would be nice!)
- 1 scallion, whites and greens
- 1 cup chickpeas, either canned or freshly prepared from dried
- 1/3 bunch cilantro, or roughly 5 healthy sprigs
- 1/2 small eggplant
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup almonds, chopped or sliced
- 1/4 cup pepitas (or sunflower seeds)
- 1/2 cup iceberg lettuce, torn into small pieces*
For the dressing (makes extra):
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and then prepare the dressing ahead of time, so it is ready when the salad is chopped and ready to be tossed. Whisk the mustard and maple syrup together with a little bit of water to thin to a loose drizzling consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare the eggplant: (If you prefer, remove the skin from the eggplant. Personally, I don't mind it, so I leave it on.)
- Slice the eggplant into rounds about an inch thick, and spread out on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Add the chickpeas to the sheet tray and whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, and minced garlic together with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the eggplant and chickpeas with the marinade and bake until the eggplant is roasted, soft, and just beginning to brown around the edges.
- While the eggplant and chickpeas roast, roughly chop the scallion and cilantro. Toss in a large bowl with the cauliflower rice and iceberg lettuce.
- When the eggplant is roasted and still warm, chop into bite-sized pieces, and add to the bowl with the cauliflower rice, scallion, and cilantro. Toss in the chickpeas, too!
- Add about 1/3 of the dressing and toss together well, adding more depending on your preference of salad moisture. Serve warm, topped with the almonds and seeds, and reserve any leftovers for lunch the next day. (Because with an avocado on the side, its a #notsaddesklunch, trust me.)