Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chickpeas: Not Just for Hummus Anymore

From the age of 10, I've been eating some form of chick peas at least twice a week. Whether pureed in hummus, on top of a salad, or straight out of a can, I can't get enough of this hearty legume. Since I began fully cooking for myself in college, my kitchen pantry has contained at least two cans of it at any given time.

Content, it never occurred to seek other uses for chick peas. Until this summer I read the July 21 edition of Mark Bittman's Minimalist column which provided Recipes for 101 Simple Salads for the Season. Though his column is usually slim on vegetarian options, what I love about Mark Bittman is how well he illustrates that living in the modern world doesn't mean sacrificing both taste and nutrition. I love his 101 lists because even if I rarely have access to all of the ingredients, he presents his ideas in clear and simple enough ways that it lets me use the ingredients I currently have in a new and interesting way. This particular day, my eyes fell on a recipe I actually did have the ingredients for: tabouleh that called for mashed chickpeas instead of cracked wheat (seriously, who ever has cracked wheat?). To my delight, the result had all of the herby, lemony freshness I love about tabouleh and the heartiness I love about chickpeas.

Then a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe that uses chickpeas as a base for Mock Tuna Salad, which I found equally satisfying.

Taking both recipes into account, I have fashioned my own version that combines the creaminess of the Mock Tuna Salad with the crispness of the tabouleh. The following not only be a great lunch substitute for chicken, egg, or tuna salad sandwiches, it also provides an answer to the first question asked of most vegetarians: Where do you get your protein?

Smashed Chick Pea Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained.
2 Tbsp fresh curly parsley, chopped (you could also experiment with fresh mint or cilantro)
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup red onion, died
2 Tbsps mayonnaise, or to taste (I used Trader Joe's brand, but to make it vegan you could probably swap out Vegenaise and no one would be the wiser)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, or to taste
lemon juice to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, smash chick peas with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the mayo and mustard are coating the entire mixture. Serve in a pita or on top of lettuce leaves.

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