Serves 4 to 6 • Gluten-Free
Why This Recipe Works: For this salad, we put a vegetarian spin on the classic flavors of caramelized onions, smoky bacon, and creamy mustard dressing. To replace the salty, smoky flavor of the bacon, we fried protein-rich chickpeas in oil until they were toasty and crisp, then tossed them with smoked paprika, cumin, sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper. Crushing some of the chickpeas ensured that they clung to the lettuce. A scant teaspoon of mayonnaise whisked with a combination of sweet, viscous honey, seedy whole-grain mustard, and apple cider vinegar gave us a vinaigrette that was creamy yet not so heavy that it weighed down the delicate mesclun leaves. Charring sliced red onions under the broiler brought out their sweetness and added an extra layer of smoke to this hearty salad.
Mesclun is typically a mixture of such specialty greens as arugula, Belgian endive, and radicchio.
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and thoroughly dried
1 red onion, halved and sliced through root end
6 ounces (6 cups) mesclun
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. FOR THE SALAD: Combine paprika, sugar, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in large bowl; set aside. Heat 3/4 cup oil in large Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Add chickpeas, partially cover (to prevent splattering), and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Using slotted spoon, transfer chickpeas to paper towel–lined plate and let drain briefly. Toss chickpeas in large bowl with reserved spices, let cool slightly, then crush about half of chickpeas into coarse crumbs with fork.
3. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Toss onion with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread over aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil onions, checking often, until edges are charred, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Let onions cool slightly, then add to spiced chickpeas along with mesclun and toss to combine.
4. FOR THE DRESSING: Whisk vinegar, mustard, honey, lemon zest, mayonnaise, and salt together in bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Serve.
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