I fell in love with watercress in Turkey. The majority of my meals were made up of the fresh, peppery leaves, including breakfast. Going back to Denmark, the land of limited greens, was a sad experience; finding watercress in Copenhagen is about as easy as finding coconuts.
Now that I'm back in Canada (the land of many greens) for the summer, I'm ecstatically loading up on any foliage I see, especially watercress. Today I was craving chickpeas for lunch, and watercress seemed like the perfect bed for them to lay upon. I saturated the legumes in a rich dressing of roasted red peppers and goat cheese, which made a tangy-sweet combination that complemented the bitter leaves so well.
This salad is very simple to throw together once you make the dressing. To save time, you can purchase jarred roasted red peppers, but I encourage you to roast them yourself, as the flavor is much better.
Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
FOR THE DRESSING
2 red bell peppers
Coconut oil, for brushing
2 Tbsp chèvre (soft goat cheese)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SALAD
2 cups chickpeas
1 small red onion, diced
1 bunch watercress
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
1. Make the dressing: Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Slice peppers in half, remove seeds, and rub the outside with a little coconut or olive oil. Place in an oven-proof dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes, until blistered and slightly blackened.
3. Remove peppers from pan and place in an airtight container with a lid. (This allows for easy peeling, as the skin and fruit will separate.) Let cool for 10 minutes, then slide skins off.
4. In a blender or food processor, add remaining dressing ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Thin to desired consistency with olive oil or water. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Toss chickpeas with half of the dressing. Add red onion and fold to incorporate.
6. Arrange a bed of watercress on individual plates. Divide the dressed chickpeas among the plates, drizzle with extra dressing and olive oil (if desired), and adjust seasoning. Serve. (Store leftover dressing in the fridge.)
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Sarah Britton is a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A Certified Nutritional Practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.