This is autumn. Days are only topping 23 degrees now, and the nights are chilly. It really is my favourite time of year, particularly late in the season with the change of colours. I’m not one to enjoy warm weather unless I am at the beach or on holiday, as I find there’s a certain temperature in which I shut down and can’t concentrate! All I can think of is how hot I feel, and I find it hard to focus on anything or be productive. So I’m happy to see autumn coming round again, and the abundance of delicious produce doesn’t hurt either!
This autumnal salad has toasty notes from chargrilling the broccoli and roasting sweet potato and onion. The coriander and rocket keep things fresh, chickpeas add substance, and the dressing marries it all together. The hero of the dish, a creamy harissa dressing, is made with lemon and cashews to keep it dairy free. Creamy, zesty and spicy, this dressing perfectly balances the salad’s sweet and earthy flavours.
Harissa is a North African condiment made from roasted red peppers, chillies, spices and often preserved/fresh lemon. Harissa varies brand to brand, and is a whole other beast if it’s homemade, so I encourage you to add it to the recipe slowly, tasting as you go. I use two teaspoons in the dressing below, but depending on how much chilli you like and whether you have a milder harissa paste, this can be increased up to 2 tablespoons.
Chickpea and Broccoli Salad with Harissa Cashew Dressing
Taste as you go when adding the harissa, the heat of the chillies can vary dramatically between brands.
Dressing adapted from Tasty Yummies
Harissa Cashew Dressing
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water 4+ hours
1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1 small lemon, juiced
1 tsp nutritional yeast
3 tbls water (plus more if needed)
2 tsp harissa (+ more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (+ more to taste)
Plenty of black pepper
Chickpea and Broccoli Salad
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
1 small sweet potato (about 1 cup), divided lengthwise and sliced 1cm thick.
1.5 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup pepitas
1 head broccoli, florets halved and stalk julienned
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (or approx a 400g can, drained and rinsed)
2 cups rocket
3 tbls coriander (cilantro), chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the dressing: Place all the ingredients, except the harissa, in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend for 3-5 minutes until smooth. Add half the harissa, blend, and then taste. Add more, as well as salt and pepper, if desired. Add additional water, one tablespoon at a time, if your dressing seems too thick. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
For the salad: Set your oven to 200C. In a medium bowl, coat the sweet potato and onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer to a baking tray and roast for in a single layer for 30 min, or until sweet potato is crispy and cooked through. The onions will start to burn around the edges but that is okay (this will impart a smokey flavour).
In a dry pan over high heat, add the pepitas and toast for 2 min. Add the cumin seeds and toast for another minute, until fragrant and the pepitas are golden and popping. Remove from pan to cool.
In the same pan over high heat, add the rest of the olive oil and the broccoli. Fry on one side until starting to char, then toss and cook for a further minute or two until vibrant green with crispy edges.
Place the prepared ingredients in a large bowl or platter and add the chickpeas, rocket and coriander (cilantro). Toss well and season to taste.
When ready to serve, generously drizzle the salad with the harissa cashew dressing. Serve with the remaining dressing on the table, adding more if desired.