This salad is inspired by one of my favorite sandwiches of all time. The chopped chickpea sandwich at 'wichcraft (which doesn't appear on the menu anymore). At the time, I worked a few blocks from one of the chain's first locations in NYC and despite eating my way through the menu several times, the chopped chickpea sandwich was one I always went back to.
It's been at least six years since I've had one, but I vividly remember taking my first bite and contemplating for the first time in my life that I might actually be able to go vegetarian. The original had a bed of finely chopped marinated chickpeas with roasted bell peppers, parsley, and thin slices of pickled lemons. For my version, I've added a few more ingredients and chopped the chickpeas more coarsely so that it works as a salad as well as in a sandwich. I also use preserved Meyer lemons to add an earthy depth along with a bit of fresh zest for the brightness.
Chopping the chickpeas may seem a little counterintuitive, given the amount of trouble most people go through to make sure they don't break up while cooking, but it actually makes a lot of sense. It's hard enough eating chickpeas off a plate with a fork, but put them between two slices of bread, and it's like keeping glass marbles on the hood of a Ferrari as it goes around a racetrack. Logistical issues aside, chopping the chickpeas exposes more surface area, which allows all the other ingredients to meld together better.
I know someone is going to call me out for adding salt to my chickpeas while cooking so for those of you that still believe that adding salt toughens legumes, go read this article on food myths
- Rinse the dried chickpeas well and soak them in plenty of water overnight.
- The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- In a pressure cooker over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil, the carrot sticks, onion, and celery in a single layer and fry them undisturbed until browned on one side. Flip and brown the other side.
- Add drained chickpeas and then slowly add enough water to cover the chickpeas by 1-inch. Add the salt and then seal the lid, setting the pressure to high.
- Turn up the heat to high and let the cooker come up to full pressure (it should make a loud whistling noise). Set the timer for 15 minutes and then lower the heat so that you're getting a low steady whistle. If the whistling stops, just turn up the heat a bit.
- When the timer is up, turn off the heat and let the pressure drop naturally.
- When the pressure has dropped open the lid and discard the vegetables. Ideally you'll want to let the chickpeas cool in the liquid and soak overnight, but if you're in a hurry, you can cool the chickpeas quickly by putting the pot in a large bowl full of ice water for about 15 minutes.
- To make the dressing whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, thyme, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and salt.
- Roughly chop the chickpeas and add them to a bowl with the bell peppers, preserved lemons, olives, red onion, celery, parsley, sumac and dressing.
- Mix everything together and serve as a sandwich or salad.