Guest Blog! Buffalo Chickpea Salad
My favorite memories with my friend Ann Scheufler have always involved food. It’s not to say that we haven’t had great experiences traveling, hiking, singing, and just living together, but the best times have always been in the kitchen.
Ann and I first met at Smurthwaite Scholarship Leadership House (henceforth known as “Smurthwaite,” where we were roommates for several years) on campus at Kansas State University (i.e. K-State). I think it very appropriate to be writing this blog as many college students are heading back to school.
If you walked into our dorm room in August, you would probably find a small circle of girls sitting cross-legged on the floor eating home-canned pickles and chips and salsa. Ann’s mom always kept us in good supply! This was our snack of choice until the Smurthwaite kitchen opened.
At Smurthwaite each girl is assigned certain “duties” each week to either cook or clean. Ann was always cooking, but I was not so confident in the kitchen and usually opted to wash dishes! It was always an adventure preparing dinner for 40-ish girls in an industrial-sized kitchen with recipes written in ounces and pounds. Somehow Ann always turned out a good meal, adding her own ingenuity and problem-solving the inevitable issues that arose.
After three years living in the scholarship house, three fellow Smurthies - including Ann - and I moved into a tiny home near campus, where, we set up our household much like Smurthwaite. Each of our four roommates had a certain night she would prepare dinner, while those not cooking were on cleanup duty. We were all pretty creative in the kitchen; I remember one fall in particular when we didn’t have any repeat recipes for the entire semester!
It was during this time that I learned more about cooking from Ann and was exposed to a lot more vegetables! (Did I mention that I was a meat-and-potatoes girl before meeting Ann?) We even had a rule in the fall that every supper had to include zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes because we always had an overabundance of garden produce!
While I have certainly branched out in what foods I enjoy, one of my favorite foods has always been (and is still) buffalo wing sauce. It’s probably because I grew up eating my Uncle Rick’s amazing homemade buffalo wings. On special occasions, he would make huge batches of the delicious wings coated in sticky Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce. We would sit on his screened-in porch, eating the wings dipped in cool blue cheese dressing, until we had to guzzle down ice water to cool our fiery mouths!
Fast forward to when I met my husband Jason, who (as luck would have it) is a vegetarian! After three years of marriage we have found a happy compromise when it comes to food. While I cook mainly vegetarian fare, there are certain foods I crave, and buffalo wings are definitely one of them. Thus, with a little creativity in the kitchen, Buffalo Chickpea Salad was born.
To begin making Buffalo Chickpea Salad, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients: 1 can of chickpeas, Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce, butter, garlic, head romaine lettuce, red onion, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, bacon, gorgonzola cheese crumbles, croutons, and ranch dressing.
Start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pot. Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook until fragrant. In the meantime, strain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pot, stirring to coat with butter. Pour ½ cup of the hot sauce over the chickpeas. Allow the mixture to simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to coat the back of a spoon and is reduced by about half. Set aside.
While the chickpeas are cooking, wash and cut up a head of romaine lettuce. Dice ½ medium red onion, two tomatoes, a small cucumber, and an avocado.
I like to add bacon crumbles to my salad, even though this is definitely not vegetarian - Jason leaves those off of his.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and lay 6 slices of bacon on it. (Use a cookie sheet with a lip to prevent grease from spilling!) Put the bacon into a cold oven and then turn the temperature to 350 degrees. Let the bacon cook about 30 minutes or until crispy and sizzling. Once the bacon is done, drain on a paper towel and blot excess grease. Chop into bite size pieces.
Now you’re ready to assemble the salad! Fill a plate with a generous portion of crispy romaine lettuce. Sprinkle some red onion, cucumber, and avocado over the top. Add the bacon too, if you’re going that route. Add the gorgonzola crumbles for some tang.
Drizzle on some ranch dressing. I love making my own ranch using plain Greek yogurt! Try this site if you are feeling adventuresome and want to make your own. Here’s another good link for a dry ranch seasoning. I typically combine the dry mix with the Greek yogurt recipe. It’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Add a big spoonful of the spicy chickpeas and top with croutons for an added crunch. Now it’s finally time to dig into this delicious pile of crunchy and cool, spicy and savory salad. Just make sure you have a big glass of water nearby!
As a side note, we also make Buffalo Chickpea Tacos with this recipe. Just put all the ingredients in a corn tortilla and enjoy!
Buffalo Chickpea Salad
6 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 c. Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce
1 can (15 oz.) drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1/2 medium red onion
2 Roma tomatoes
1 medium avocado
1/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
1 c. Croutons
Cook bacon in oven by lining a baking sheet with foil and arranging bacon evenly on pan so no pieces overlap. Place pan into cold oven, then turn on and set to 350 degrees. Cook 30 minutes or until bacon reaches desired crispness. Blot bacon with paper towel to remove excess grease and chop into bite-size pieces.
While bacon is cooking, melt butter in medium pot. Add 1 clove minced garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add chickpeas and stir to coat with butter. Pour hot sauce over chickpeas and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced.
Meanwhile, wash romaine lettuce, tear off leaves, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Dice onion, tomatoes, and cucumbers (no need to peel). Cut avocado in half, remove pit, score into cubes and scoops cubes out with a spoon. Toss vegetables with romaine lettuce in large bowl.
Assemble salad: lettuce/vegetables on bottom, gorgonzola and bacon crumbles, ranch or blue cheese dressing, heaping spoonful of buffalo chickpeas. Top with 3 Tbsp. croutons per salad.
Serves 6 - Serving Size: 3 cups - Nutrients per serving: 410 calories -- 16g total fat -- 5g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat -- 19mg cholesterol -- 997mg sodium -- 54g total carbohydrates -- 14g fiber -- 8g sugar -- 18g protein
Post written by Meredith Reid, best friend and fellow food-lover. She works as a choir teacher in Southeast Kansas and has gradually transformed her cooking from meat-and-potatoes to creative vegetarian fare for herself and her husband.