Chickpeas (or garbanzos as we know them in Spanish) are a powerhouse of healthy nutrition. They are one of the best legumes for vegans due to their high fiber and plant protein content. In particular, they contain large amounts of insoluble fiber, a kind of fiber that remains undigested all the way down to the final segment of your large intestine. As a result, garbanzos contribute to a decrease in digestive and cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, they are a fantastic blood sugar regulator making garbanzos a healthy and supportive addition to practically every diet.

I grew up eating lots of garbanzos. There are many traditional recipes that call for them in Spanish cuisine, quite possibly due to the sheer abundance of this crop in the Mediterranean region. Cultures all around this sea share the use of this legume in very different dishes, and it is believed that garbanzos have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for over six thousand years!

I could suggest many ways to incorporate garbanzos into your daily diet. Some of them have become quite fashionable (like hummus in all its variations) but I believe that as long as they appear on your plate once or twice a week, you can be easily reaping the benefits they have to offer. You will love their soft and creamy texture and their mild taste. They are so versatile, you can eat them much more frequently and never get tired of them.

This salad brings together garbanzos and white kale. You can certainly use another variety of kale if you wish, such as lacinato or red kale. You can even experiment by mixing other kinds of leafy greens to create a different texture or to make the salad even more colorful. If you are trying to pump up the nutritional value of this dish, a cup of cooked quinoa or some roasted root veggies such as beets would make a fantastic addition too.

Essential to the success of this recipe is that the chickpeas be thoroughly roasted until they are crispy. That element of crunchiness balances the creamy dressing beautifully. You can even store the leftover chickpeas and eat them as a snack the following day.

The salad dressing debate rages on in many circles, but remember that there is nothing inherently wrong with adding a touch of healthy fats to your salads. In fact, it helps you absorb all the nutrients in the greens you are consuming, so one could actually say that dressing is a must. The trick is to learn to make your own delicious salad dressing rather than purchasing a bottle at the store. Anything you can make at home will be far healthier than the store bought option.

This particular dressing coats the kale leaves well, accentuating the earthy flavors and toning down any bitterness. Using hummus as a base provides it with a thick and velvety finish that balances the greens beautifully. In this recipe I have used a unique flavored variety of hummus from a local hummus company, @VermontHummusCompany. However, if you don’t have access to Curried Sweet Potato hummus, you can easily substitute it. I love the roasted garlic hummus, for instance. Then again, I love anything with an ample serving of garlic.

Follow these basic steps and enjoy this easy yet nutritious salad for lunch or as a side any day of the week. Once you try it, you will want to make it many times over.

• young kale, washed and dried
• 1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp curry (mild or hot)
• 4 heaping Tbsp of hummus* (I used Curried Sweet Potato made by @VermontHummusCompany)
• the juice of 1/2 lemon
• salt + pepper to taste
• hot water to thin the dressing to your desired consistency

Preheat oven to 350F. Rinse chickpeas and place in a mixing bowl. Blot the excess water with a towel to ensure that the spices do not just wash off. Sprinkle the spice mix over the chickpeas and toss until all of them are covered evenly.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, and spread the chickpeas on it. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, making sure to move them around a bit with a utensil in 15 minute intervals. Watch them closely and do not let them burn. They seem to go from golden brown to charred in no time if you turn your back for a moment.

While the chickpeas are roasting, mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl, adding water until it becomes easy to drizzle but not runny.

Assemble all components of the salad in a large bowl. Place the kale into the bowl first and coat well with the hummus dressing. You have permission to use your hands to do this. A bit of fun in the kitchen helps the recipe taste better! If you wish, you can top the salad with hemp seeds or perhaps roasted sunflower seeds. This salad serves two as a main (and delicious) course.