The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

roast chickpea and avocado salad

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In the past twelve months some 2,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest has been lost to clearing – equivalent to 50 football pitches every minute.

Although some of these losses are due to illegal logging, much of it has been to meet the demands of the cattle industry.

In 2009 the multinational food giants McDonald’s and Cargill were named and shamed by Greenpeace for their role in the clearance of large areas of Amazonian rainforest, either to graze cattle for burgers or to grow soy beans as feed for cattle destined to end up in burgers.

The current scale of the losses of forest land is unsustainable.

Without the protection of the forest canopies, soils quickly dry out and become vulnerable to wind and rain erosion.

Trees are a vital part of the water cycle, returning moisture from the soil to the atmosphere, which will later return in the form of rain. Cutting down forests not only disrupts this natural process of water recycling between soil and atmosphere, it also releases stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gases and global warming.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Brazil has just emerged from its most severe drought in living memory. At the height of the drought, the city of Sao Paolo, with 20 million inhabitants, was running on emergency water reserves and introduced water rationing, with some parts of the city given just two hours access to clean water. Other Brazilian cities faced similar shortages. The drought also affected agriculture, with coffee and sugar crops particularly badly hit.

It took torrential rains brought on by El Niño (a complex, recurring climactic phenomenon) to bring the two year drought to an end, but experts predict that drought will return to the country in the future.

It is desperately ironic that so much of the clearing of these precious forests has been for the benefit of the fast food industry, which not only makes us fat and unhealthy but also, through its massive impact on forest land, endangers continued human existence on our precious planet.

If demand for meat and fast food wasn’t there then demand for grazing land would subside and we would be in a better position to protect these precious forests which are so vital to our long term survival as a species.

chickpeas in smoked paprika oilbasil, lemon, garlicbasil and lemon dressingavocado

On to the recipe.

I love salads. They should not, in my view, be confined only to the balmy days of summer. With a little imagination it is perfectly feasible to eat salads all year round, adapting to whatever seasonal produce happens to be available at the time.

Chickpeas are a great source of plant protein, and they work really well in this delicious salad. For the uninitiated, let me tell you that a roast chickpea is a truly wonderful thing, all the more so when flavoured with a little smoked paprika. In this example they add crunch and flavour to this beautifully wholesome and nutritious salad.

roast chickpea and avocado salad


1 romaine lettuce or similar, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
25 g sprouted cress
1 avocado
400 g can organic chickpeas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika

for the dressing

100 ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Drain and rinse the chickpeas in cold water then dry them on kitchen paper. Mix the olive oil and smoked paprika in a large bowl. Add the chickpeas and toss to coat them with the oil and paprika. Tip out onto a flat baking tray, drizzling over any oil remaining in the bowl. Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, gently shaking the tray half way through, or until the chickpeas are light golden and crisp. Remove from the oven, drain on kitchen paper and put to one side to cool.

2.For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, olive oil and lemon juice until emulsified. Add the basil and garlic and whisk again.

3. Halve and stone the avocado and cut each half in half again lengthways. Chop each quarter into three roughly equal pieces. Place in a bowl with the lettuce, red onion and half of the roast chickpeas. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Scatter the remaining roast chickpeas over the top and serve.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan

Tags: , , , ,

20 replies

  1. OK that recipe is a keepy. As to the other bit I fully understand your point and agree wholeheartedly. BUT if I was a poor subsistence farmer and a big company came and offered me a sum which I saw as a fortune, I think it would be hard to say ‘No’. If my family have empty stomachs I wont care too much about the succeeding generations. And I don’t have an answer.

    • Thanks for your comments on the recipe.
      Governments don’t seem willing or able to curb the power of multinationals (I may write about the reasons for this in a future post) but these corporations do seem to be quite sensitive to consumer concerns about food provenance and sustainability. They don’t like bad publicity. McDonald’s for example has switched recently to “sustainable sourcing” of its products and has now stopped buying chickens fed with soy grown in the Amazon.

  2. Love salads too CG, any weather. Tops combo. Will try soon.

  3. We need to change this use-and-throw mentality. In the not-too-distant past, here was the life cycle of clothes in India:

    1. Wear to work for at least 2 years or till it fades a bit. Sarees lasted longer.

    2. When a bit worse for wear, wear at home.

    3. Then either turn into dusters, mops, or quilts.


    At some point exchange for new vessels or other house hold goods. (Tad difficult to explain but we still can)

    As for festive or “fancy” clothes, they went on to be exchanged among siblings or cousins.

    Now it is buy new clothes ever so often and throw out the new ones.

    When I saw a celebrity environment crusader calling on people to wear their clothes at least 30 times before discarding, I was just smiling to myself. 🙂

    I will get off my soap box now.

  4. What an irresistible treat. xo

  5. Avacado and “Roasted” chick peas sound delightful! What a great find!

  6. Off to check the cupboard for chickpeas – sounds tasty!

  7. This looks delicious!

  8. Lovely recipe. Lets connect on instagram? ❤❤

    Sabrina ||

  9. Reblogged this on Blog of a Mad Black Woman and commented:
    Love salads, LOVE avocados!

  10. This looks yummy…I must give this a try!


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