Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich (dairy and gluten-free)

Looking for an alternative to your favorite chicken salad sandwich? I've got you covered. This vegan version is just as delicious (and even more nutrient-dense!) than the creamy chicken salad of your dreams. Without compromising flavor or texture, I've made a few swaps and the result is both sweet and savory.

For this recipe, you don't need a food processor (which seems to be the trend on my blog as of late). One bowl, and that's it. And, it comes together in under 10 minutes. Win-win. Thanks to ingredients like buttery walnuts, earthy tahini, crunchy celery, and antioxidant-rich cranberries, this chickpea salad fulfills that craving for classic, deli-style chicken salad. 

Before we dive into the recipe, I want to chat for a second about chickpeas. Without a doubt, they're my favorite legume. You probably know them best as the base for hummus, right? But, here are some additional culinary uses:

  • Desi chickpeas are a common ingredient in Indian dishes. They're mostly consumed in the form of whole seed or dhal. Traditionally, they're ground into flour and used in Indian vegetable pakoras, socca (chickpea crepe), Italian farinata (chickpea pancake).
  • Kabuli chickpeas are generally eaten whole and are typically found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.
  • Fresh green chickpeas can be eaten as raw, stand-alone veggies.
  • Chickpeas add bulk to salads, soups, pastas, etc.
  • Chickpeas can be roasted for a crunchy snack.
  • Chickpeas can serve as the meat-y texture for tacos and recipes like this one. 

Here's the thing, though. Like 99% of the food on this planet, people have opinions. Some say that chickpeas are nutrient-powerhouses and others put legumes on Santa's naughty list. My suggestion? Simply take note of how you feel after you eat them. Legumes (and chickpeas, specifically) are linked with various health benefits and are considered to be one of the best plant-based sources of protein. They're versatile and chock-full of fiber.

However, like some plant foods, chickpeas contain so-called anti-nutrients, which may impair how your body digests them. If you find that eating chickpeas causes digestive issues (i.e. gas and bloating) you're not the only one. For some, legumes can affect the intestinal tract's cell lining. This can lead to inflammation in the body and other unwanted reactions. So, if you love hummus but have trouble digesting it, try soaking, sprouting, and / or boiling your chickpeas beforehand. Otherwise, get tested for allergies :)

Alright, onto the good stuff. This recipe is quick and easy, and it's great for lunch, dinner, or a hearty snack.

Ingredients:

- 1 15-oz can of low-sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed with warm water and drained

- 1 large organic celery stalk (approx. 1/2 cup), minced

- 1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

- 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries 

- 3 tbsp tahini

- 1 tbsp maple syrup 

- 1 tbsp water

- juice of 1/2 a lemon

- a few pinches of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Instructions:

1. After rinsing the chickpeas with warm water (this makes them a bit softer), add them to a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Don't over-mash as you'll want some of the chickpeas to maintain their texture.

2. Toss in the rest of your ingredients and mix evenly. Taste and add s+p accordingly. Feel free to add more tahini or mayo / dijon mustard for a creamier consistency!

3. Add the chickpea salad to a sandwich with pickles, lettuce, avocado, mayo, etc.! Otherwise, this recipe makes for a great salad topping, satisfying accompaniment to crackers, or a delicious snack with pita bread.

4. Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Enjoy!