Lately, I’m inspired to create crunchiness out of foods that don’t start out that way. I receive various cooking magazines, and, when one arrives, I sit down and read through the recipes, marking off the ones I want to try. My latest inspiration comes from the August 2022 Bon Appetit magazine.
I made a pasta salad that was quite flavorful. I stirred in some capers, which I love. They give you a burst of briny tartness that is always a pleasant surprise. When I was a kid, my mom made tuna salad sandwiches and put capers in the tuna salad. I think that’s where my fondness of capers comes from.
The magazine suggested frying some of the capers to make them crispy. So, I tried it and sprinkled them on top of the pasta salad. What a great idea! Crunchy AND that fun burst of flavor.
To fry capers, first drain them of the brine. Then dry them on paper towels. Get them as dry as possible. Heat some vegetable oil (1-2 tbsps.) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the capers and stir them around as they get crisp.
It only takes about 10 minutes. Some of them will fall apart, but that’s OK because those little pieces will get crisp too. Then drain them on paper towels. Sprinkle away!
Another thing that I made crunchy for a snack is garbanzo beans. Good ol’ chickpeas. Again, you drain them from the can, dry them on paper towels, then fry them in a skillet with oil until they’re slightly browned and crisp. Then drain them on paper towels.
You can sprinkle salt and curry powder on them and eat them for a snack. Or sprinkle chili powder on them. Use your imagination with spices that you can sprinkle on the chickpeas. They’re delish!
One more thing that I made crunchy is lentils! Once they’re crispy you can eat them as is for a snack or sprinkle them onto your salad for more crunch. They provide lots of good nutrition along with protein. They’re a little more involved to get them crispy. Here’s the recipe:
1 Cup dried French Green Lentils (do not use red or yellow lentils)
2-3 tbsps olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
Put the lentils into a bowl and add water to cover them by more than an inch. Let them soak overnight. After soaking, drain the lentils in a sieve and let them sit to drain for 10-15 minutes. Return them to the bowl that you have dried out. Stir the olive oil into them to coat them. Then spread the lentils into one layer on a cookie sheet.
Put them into the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Take them out and stir them around, then even them out in a single layer again and return them to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until they are nice and crunchy. Sprinkle with salt. Add other spices, as desired, or just eat them salted.
These are three easy ways to add some good crunchy texture to your salads, or sprinkle into soups, or just snack on them. Nice for a change and a fun way to add good nutrient and fiber to your diet. Have fun with it and let me know how it goes.
What strange and fun recipe have you tried recently? Where did you find it? Do you think it’s worth exploring different cooking ideas?