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.
- 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.