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.