The words salad and brownies in the title of the same recipe probably sounds like the most disgusting thing you ever heard. Nevertheless, bear with me… the reality is that these brownies are actually not that different from a salad, and they still taste mostly like brownies! Hence the name. Among the primary ingredients are things like black beans, romaine lettuce or spinach, hemp hearts, and almonds. It’s weird, you eat them for desert, and then realize that you just ate another serving of vegetables.
What’s more, they are quite allergy friendly: refined sugar free, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, egg free, and optionally nut free, making them a great option for people with restricted dietary needs (such as myself). .I hope that despite you’re (understandable) skepticism, you might be inspired to give this recipe a try!
How these brownies came into being: One of the first recipes that I made with immediate success after going gluten/soy/dairy free were these “Fudge-Tastic Brownies” found here. It was through this recipe that I realized weird ingredients can make some good brownies. Not only good brownies, but good for you brownies. After that I started experimenting with different brownie recipes, such as this spinach brownie recipe found here. The recipe below is one I kind of put together, adapted from those two recipes, with a few extra things I threw in that I had on hand. They’re pretty delicious, my husband and sister approved (and ate them all, just kidding).
- 3/4 cup date puree (this can be made by soaking 12 or so large dates depending on the size, in water for 1 hr, then draining and putting it in a blender/food processor until smooth)
- a 15 oz can black beans (best unsalted, if you can find it)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce (I have also used spinach as well with success, so I suspect any green lettucy vegetable would work)
- 2 tbs hemp hearts (optional)
- I cup almond meal, packed*
- 2 tbs melted coconut oil
- 4 tbs pure honey
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other milk alternative of choice)
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp gluten free baking powder (I use Clabber Girl, found at most grocery stores)
- 1/2 tsp gluten free baking soda (I use Bob Mill’s, found at grocery stores, or Sprout’s and Whole Foods)
*To make a nut free option, another alternative flour could be used such as coconut flour instead of the almond meal, or a gluten free flour mix such as here.
Preheat oven to 350 F
Place the romaine in food processor and blend until broken up.
Add date puree and black beans and pulse until mixed (it does not have to be so mixed as to look like a puree at this point).
Add hemp hearts and almond meal and pulse for about 20 seconds.
Scrape the sides of the food processor with a scrape spatula and add coconut oil and honey. Process again, until it becomes smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.
At this point your brownies will look like a pretty ugly greenish brownish mush, but don’t loose hope just yet. Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and coconut milk. Mix again until smooth.
Place in an 8×8 baking dish, lined with parchment paper or oiled with coconut oil.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until slightly browned.
Optional: once baked, while it’s still hot, spread dairy/soy free chocolate chips (can be purchased at Target or Sprout’s) or chunks (I’ve used Trader Joe’s Belgian Dark Chocolate and chopped it into chunks) and set back in the oven for a minute or so. Take out and spread the melted chocolate chips around with a spatula that has been greased with coconut oil (so the chocolate doesn’t stick to it as much.) Cool for a half hour or so, cut and serve, or refrigerate overnight and serve cold.
Notes: This brownie tastes great warm, but I actually prefer it cold, the next day, after it’s sat in the fridge overnight. Totally a personal preference though. Hope you enjoy!
Makes about 9 brownies