Anything chicken can do, chickpeas can do better. I don't know if it’s just the possibility for wordplay, but I am drawn to every recipe I have ever seen that uses the beans in place of the poultry in a classic, or at least well-known, treatment. I'm talking about kung pao chickpeas, butter chickpeas, chickpea a la king and the like.
An early favorite of mine was chickpea salad. And why not? Garbanzo beans take well to the mashed-with-mayo technique, and if you spice up the mix with curry powder and add some sour, crunchy bits, all the better.
Jessica Prescott has an excellent version in her book "Vegan Goodness" (Hardie Grant Books, 2016). Prescott, creator of the Wholy Goodness blog, was inspired not by chicken salad but by her dad's curried egg sandwiches. Rather than mayo, she uses a ripe avocado (plus a little olive oil) as the fatty binder. Because I'm a pickle fanatic, especially when it comes to sandwiches, my favorite part is her use of baby dills as little punctuation marks.
I aimed to make four full-size sandwiches with the filling, but the best-looking rolls at the supermarket were minis, so sliders were born. In the midst of holiday-potluck season, it was a message from the universe that these were born to be party food, not just dinner.
Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
Adapted from “Vegan Goodness,” by Jessica Prescott (Hardie Grant Books, 2016).
1 1/2 cups (1 15-ounce can) no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Flesh of 1 large ripe avocado, chopped
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
4 baby dill pickles, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, or more as needed
About 1/2 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves
4 hamburger-bun-size rolls (or 8 mini rolls), split and toasted
Combine the chickpeas, avocado, oil and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until well combined but still a little chunky. Stir in the red onion, pickles, parsley, curry powder, salt and pepper. Taste, and add more lemon, salt and/or pepper as needed.
To build the sandwiches, place a few baby spinach leaves on the bottom halves of the toasted rolls and top with the chickpea salad. Top with tops of the rolls.
Per serving (using kosher salt): 300 calories, 12 g protein, 45 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 610 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar
Yield: 4 servings