I love chicken salad sandwiches, and I’ve found that what you can do to chicken in this particular application, you can do to chickpeas. Buffalo, Waldorf, curry, Asian — you name it, I’ve chickpea salad–sandwiched it. This time around, I’m going Middle Eastern with tangy goat cheese and za’atar, and serving it in mini whole-wheat pitas with all the fixins.
By roughly mashing chickpeas, you keep textural variety in the mix that’s more interesting than your average hummus pita but vegetarian enough for your vegetarian friends (which is to say, there is no chicken in this recipe). Want to make it vegan? Replace the goat cheese with the well-roasted flesh of half an eggplant and a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil for a creamy, savory supplement.
To skin your chickpeas, drain and rinse them, then toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of baking soda until evenly coated and microwave for a minute, or until heated through. Gently roll a small handful of chickpeas between your hands without crushing them, and the skins will slide off easily. Rinse in a few changes of water and let the skins float to the top and drain out, and you’re left with silky-smooth chickpeas ready to mash.
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed and skinned (see note above)
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
- 4 ounces goat cheese (Cypress Grove's Purple Haze is particularly good for this recipe), softened
- juice of one lemon
- 1 clove garlic, smashed into a paste
- 2 heaping tablespoons za'atar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To assemble the sandwiches
- 6 whole wheat mini pitas, last 1/2 inch sliced off to create a pita pocket
- 2 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced into rounds
- 1/2 English cucumber, sliced into rounds
- flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
For the chickpea salad
In a large bowl, mix together skinned chickpeas, red onion and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
Using a potato masher, lightly mash the chickpeas until you have a mix of textures from whole to totally mashed and set aside.
In another bowl, mix together the goat cheese, lemon juice, garlic, za'atar and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper until combined.
Mix the chickpeas and goat cheese mixture until just incorporated, then assemble sandwiches or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.
For the sandwiches
Sprinkle the cucumber and tomato slices lightly with flaky sea salt.
Load the chickpea salad into the pita pockets, then top with slices of cucumber and tomato and serve immediately.