Amy Green’s roundup for this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays is all about healthier snacks. Amy says she receives many requests for healthy snacks and is asking her readers for help. I suspect we all know how to serve up healthier snacks, but we get bored with the seemingly mundane apples, bananas, baby carrots, celery sticks, and the like. We want something more inventive. We want a snack that appeals to all our senses and excites us just a little bit. How about Cucumber Chickpea Bruschetta? Wasn’t your interest piqued by “bruschetta” in the title? Consider the chickpea and cucumber factors and you may be even more intrigued.
Let’s talk more about what we’re looking for in our snacks. Often with healthier snacks, it’s the presentation alone that makes the snack appealing. Take an apple, cut it into slices, arrange the slices into a pinwheel design on a plate, leave it on the kitchen counter, and I guarantee that the apple slices will magically disappear. And, that’s without the benefit of any dips or special topping. However, if I didn’t cut the apple and place it out for public snacking, it would stay in the basket on our kitchen counter until it literally shriveled up. I’m usually the only one who eats apple in their natural state at our house, but even I enjoy apple slices more than eating a whole apple. Attractive and bite-sized, with no work involved–that’s what we consumers really want in our healthy snacks.
A recent mention in Better Homes and Gardens magazine shared some ideas for chickpeas. The first was a roasted version, which used olive oil, salt, and black pepper. As you know, I love roasted chickpeas, but I think I’ll stick with my version, which uses olive oil and cayenne pepper as shown here. (Of course, any seasoning of your choice can be used.) Two other chickpea ideas appealed to me though: cucumber bruschetta and spiced chickpea couscous (but remember that traditional couscous is not gluten free). I decided to pull some of the ideas presented from each suggestion to come up with a healthy, yet appealing snack for today’s Slightly Indulgent roundup.
This Cucumber Chickpea Bruschetta is perfect for simple family snacking or elegant enough to serve as an appetizer at a dinner party. I’d even go so far as to say that one could have this bruschetta as a meal. Plus, it’s gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, soy free, corn free, yeast free, and egg free. For folks with intolerances and/or allergies, that puts tasty “bruschetta” on their table—with no baking. And, yes, this bruschetta is even vegan. No matter on our eating needs, for all of us, it’s a nice way to get in one’s veggies, fruit, and protein. I also like the fact that it’s a cold snack-—that’s very much appreciated with this heat wave we’ve been having. In fact, Mr. GFE gave this recipe two thumbs up and said that he liked the cucumber slice as the base better than traditional bread or even crackers. He explained that the cucumber slices are so juicy, one doesn’t have to keep sipping on a beverage every few seconds. He also suggested that shrimp would be perfect on these little bruschettas. As I’ve said before, we really do think adding shrimp makes just about any appetizer or entree better. No shrimp was needed though as we sampled this bruschetta before eating some steamed crabs. However, it’s amazingly filling. We had to stop after only a few. I’m taking the rest to work today, and I know they’ll be well received. I hope you will give them a try and that you will enjoy them!
Cucumber Chickpea "Bruschetta"
This recipe is naturally gluten free and vegan and loved by all. Really. It will surprise you how folks love this refreshing combo of ingredients and surprising presentation. Makes a great appetizer or filling, but "light" meal.
- cucumber slices
- can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, mashed
- juice of about one-fourth of a lemon
- chopped tomatoes
- chopped onions
- chopped basil or other herbs and seasonings (e.g., dill, cumin, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes)
- OR salsa in place of last four ingredients (i.e., ingredients listed after chickpeas; see notes)
- Slice cucumbers thick enough that they can hold some weight. (See photo.)
- In a large bowl, add chickpeas and lemon juice. Mix well. Mash chickpeas with a potato masher or back of a spoon. They do not have to be fully mashed, just spreadable (or "spoonable").
- Spread chickpea mixture onto cucumber slices using a spoon.
- Mix tomatoes, onions, herbs, and seasonings. Spoon onto chickpea-topped slices.
- Top chickpea-topped cucumber slices with a small spoonful of salsa. Serve.
I used a seedless cucumber as I think they are a bit sturdier and I like the lack of seeds. Chickpeas are much more difficult to mash by hand than black beans; I was surprised. Just mash enough to be able to place on the cucumber slice. With the remaining chunkiness and their coloring, the mashed chickpeas almost look like shredded cheddar cheese, which is not a bad thing when one is eating dairy free. We had some peach-mango salsa leftover from our weekend camping trip with Son and his friends, which I used as topping for half of these bruschetta. (Incidentally, I'm not sure on the plural of bruschetta. I just found out I was saying the word wrong after all these years. Apparently there's the correct pronunciation and then the Americanized pronunciation.) Just a dab of salsa from a spoon on top of the chickpea mixture was all that was needed. The resulting bruschetta was really lovely, with so many flavors and textures ... all working well together. These are very addictive for a healthy snack! Incidentally, this would be a great recipe to get the kids involved in, too.Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Courses Appetizer, Snack, Entree