This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her photographer friend Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, coauthored with Lee Brian Schrager, is America’s Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes From Coast to Coast.
A salad is a terrible thing to waste. As a devotee of texture in all things edible, I see a bowl of tender green leaves without a crunchy or crispy topping as a missed opportunity. The three-dimensional topography of a salad just begs for additions my boyfriend’s family so aptly calls “salad toys.” Here are three to liven up your lettuce: A seed-and-grain mix, including uncooked quinoa, that gets a saltwater wash before a crunch-inducing oven bake; crispy shallots because they’re the best thing on earth; and spicy, crunchy baked chickpeas that double as beer’s perfect partner.
Mixed Seeds (makes about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup nigella seeds
- 1/4 cup flaxseeds
Crispy Shallots (makes about 2 cups)
- 4 large shallots
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
- vegetable oil, for frying
Crispy Smoky Spicy Baked Chickpeas (makes 2 cups)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Mixed Seeds
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl dissolve the water with the salt. Add the nuts, toss to coat, transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and toasted, 20 minutes. Cool completely. Mixed seeds last, sealed in an airtight container, for up to one month.
For the Crispy Shallots
Fill a three- or four-quart saucepan just under halfway with oil and heat to 360°F.
Slice the shallots very thinly on a mandoline, or with a very sharp knife. Add them to a Ziploc bag with the flour, salt, and pepper. Shake to coat, then pull the shallots out with a Chinese spider, letting the excess flour fall back into the bag.
Working in batches, fry the shallots until golden, pulling them out when they’re a nice toasty color but not too dark because they’ll continue to darken a bit; drain on paper towels and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Shallots will keep in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
For the Crispy Smoky Spicy Baked Chickpeas
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Dry the chickpeas well between two clean kitchen towels. Carefully pour the chickpeas into a bowl and toss them with the olive oil, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper.
Bake until crispy, 30-35 minutes. Serve warm, or cool and serve at room temperature. If they get soggy, the chickpeas can be re-crisped in a 400°F oven for about 10 minutes.