Thank you For the Chef for sponsoring this post!
Another happy post coming your way, folks! I’m excited about today’s recipe because 1. I got to make it for my guy, 2. It’s sponsored by For the Chef, one of my favorite kitchenware companies, and 3. It’s a powerhouse of delicious vegan protein that will put naysayers to shame!
Backtracking…. I actually worked on this recipe in Ryan’s kitchen at his house, instead of at my house. Although he doesn’t have quite the same volume of pantry essentials as I do (read: 6 different types of oils, 43 different spices, 4 varieties of salt, etc), I was able to bring a portion of my batterie de cuisine to his house. Once I took over his kitchen, I knew I wanted to make him something healthy (of course) but full of protein. My guy is very athletic, and leads a busy lifestyle, so protein is key to maintaining steady energy levels throughout the day. That’s why I went for the trifecta of vegan protein – nuts, beans, and quinoa. This salad has a whopping 30 grams of protein per serving, which I knew he would love. Ryan also loves it when I toast nuts and seeds – rendering them crunchy and slightly chewy – so of course those had to go in the salad too. The almonds add a hint of smoky and spicy flavor that just goes perfectly with the mealy beans and hearty quinoa.
But my favorite part of this salad isn’t an ingredient – it’s the fact that I was able to make it for someone I care about. I’ll admit, I’ve been in a little bit of a recipe rut lately… I haven’t felt as much motivation to cook and recipe test since I’ve been at home. But as soon as I stepped into Ryan’s kitchen, armed with the task of making him lunch, I suddenly felt rejuvenated and inspired. It was like a switch had flipped in my mind, and I was suddenly motivated to create the most delicious meal I could.
I also felt inspired by the awesome cast-iron skillet the lovely folks at For the Chef sent me to try out. It really is the most perfect little skillet – only 6 and 1/2 inches in diameter, it’s perfect for toasting small batches of nuts and seeds, like in this recipe. And my favorite part is that it’s not super heavy like my other bulky 10-inch cast-iron pan. There’s nothing scarier that trying to lug around a piping hot skillet that you can barely hold with one hand! Fortunately, the skillet that For The Chef sent me was the perfect size and weight for my needs. Now I just need to be careful not to spend all of my money on other kitchen goods from their store (a very real possibility, I might add!), like these gorgeous wine glasses or this classic French press. It’s gourmet heaven!
- 1 Cup Whole, Raw Almonds
- Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ Tsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ Tsp Chili Powder
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 4-5 Handfuls Mixed Greens
- 1 Cup Quinoa, cooked
- ½ Cup Edamame, cooked and shelled
- ½ Cup Kidney beans, cooked
- ½ Cup Chickpeas, cooked
- ¼ Red Onion, sliced
- Your favorite salad dressing
- Any other nuts and seeds you like
- Start by toasting the almonds. Bring a cast-iron skillet or other skillet to medium-high heat.
- While the skillet is heating, combine almonds, olive oil, and spices in a bowl. Just use enough olive oil to lightly coat the almonds, not any more. Mix well until almonds are evenly coated with the oil and spices.
- Once skillet is hot, add spiced almonds to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until the almonds start to brown and become fragrant. Be sure to stir frequently so that the almonds don't burn. You may hear a popping noise - it's just the almonds cracking.
- Once almonds are done cooking, remove from the skillet and let cool for a few minutes.
- Assemble your salad - toss mixed greens, quinoa, beans, and onion with your favorite salad dressing until evenly combined. This salad is really versatile - feel free to sub quinoa with any other grain (like rice or wheatberries), or sub any type of hardy beans for the beans listed in the recipe. It'll all taste great!
- Serve and enjoy!