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Gluten-Free Side Dish Heaven


If I had known how delicious this salad is, I would have posted this recipe last week — just in case anyone was looking for a perfect rock-the-pot-luck dish for the 4th of July. I was asked to bring a side dish to a neighbor’s barbecue, and just when I was settling on which pasta salad recipe to make, she mentioned that one of the guests is gluten intolerant. Okay, so no noodles.

Then I remembered this recipe, which I’d clipped from a newspaper last summer, and I knew it would be perfect. First, it’s made from whole grain brown rice and garbanzo beans, both of which I love and happened to have on hand. Second, it’s got a slightly sweet and tangy curry dressing, which is totally addictive.

I’ve been on a serious garbanzo kick lately, by the way. This of course started when I gave up meat for Lent; Garbanzo beans make an excellent and surprisingly satisfying substitute for chicken in salads and soups. Garbanzos, like most legumes (which is anything that grows in a pod), are really, really good for you. Aside from being high in fiber and fat-free protein, they are also high in heart-healthy minerals such as folate and magnesium. Garbanzos are a good “energy food” because they promote slow burning of complex carbs, which keeps you feeling full longer, too. In addition to throwing them in salads, soups, and all kinds of pasta dishes, I love them roasted as a snack — just toss them with some olive oil and salt and spread on a cookie sheet; roast in a hot oven.

I had bought a huge bag of dried garbanzos a couple weeks ago to make hummus and happened to have a large container of them waiting to be used. This salad would also work with canned beans, but the dried ones are cheaper and of course they don’t come out of a BPA-lined can. When using dried beans, buy them the day before you plan on using them so you can soak them overnight. Then rinse and simmer for a couple hours until they’re tender enough to eat. This salad makes a delicious side dish, and I’m making it again today so I can have it for lunch all week.

A note about brown rice: I always buy short grain brown rice (Lundberg’s) because I love its chewy, kind of sticky consistency. It works perfectly in salads like this. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can bake it. Both methods work better than boiling it on the stove I think.

Curried Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad — I doubled this and wished I’d made more, just FYI. Also, this makes a perfectly acceptable main course, just add some greens and you’re good.

Ingredients
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups garbanzo beans (or 1 15-oz. can, rinsed and drained)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup raisins (I used dried currants)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice of one lime)
2-3 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt & pepper

Combine brown rice, chickpeas, bell pepper, red onion, raisins, and cilantro. Toss to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, olive oil, curry powder, salt & pepper. Pour dressing over rice mixture and toss to blend. Season with additional salt & pepper to taste.

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“Thanks for the tasty and nutritionally compelling ideas for weeknight family meals!”

Sharol, working mom
Denver, Colorado