Monika’s Molecular Meals: Bright & Herbaceous Vegan Chickpea Salad

Monika Knapp By Monika Knapp | 7 June 2020 613 views

Delicious & Tangy Vegan Chickpea Salad

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PSA:

This is not a vegan chickpea salad that’s trying to be a chicken salad.

Believe me when I tell you you’re not going to want to hide this between two slices of sad, soft bread.

It’s got character, serious flavor… basically, it’s bold AF. 

And if you’re reading this right now, I’d even go so far as to bet you’ve never tried this combination of flavors before in your life.

(Ground sumac, sundried tomatoes, red pepper, fresh parsley, and basil… sorry, soggy bland chickpea salad WHO??)

I’m just beginning to dip my toes into Turkish food, so this was certainly a new combination to me.

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But when I saw the original recipe for this salad (called “Nohut Piyazi” traditionally) in a cookbook of mine, I knew it was too good not to share.

I’ve made a few tweaks to make the recipe easier on you:

  • You can substitute canned chickpeas for dried…
  • If you can’t find or don’t have ground sumac, I offer an easy substitute in the Recipe Notes…
  • And while the beans are traditionally cooked in a lamb stock, this recipe is 100% vegan and plant-based.

And while you definitely don’t *need* to hunt down these particular Mediterranean spices to make this salad super delicious… if you do, I think you’ll find these flavors can brighten up a lot of other dishes you’re maybe beginning to dread in your typical vegan rotation. 🙂

Plus, this is the type of recipe that doesn’t scream VEGAN to most people… so if you serve it to family or friends who don’t normally eat vegan…

You won’t get the normal eye-rolls and whispered comments about how vegan food is so bland and boring… because this recipe is far from bland or boring!

Here’s how it’s done:

Monika's Molecular Meals: Bright & Herbaceous Vegan Chickpea Salad

FTH’s Bright & Herbaceous Vegan Chickpea Salad

Equipment Needed: Large pot (if using dried chickpeas); cast iron pan or saucepan 

Recipe Time: 10 minutes plus at least 6 hours for soaking

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight; or 1 cup or chickpeas from a can, drained, rinsed, and skins removed
  • 1/4 cup herb-infused olive oil (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp ground sumac (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/2 tsp Urfa chili flakes, aleppo pepper, or red pepper flakes (optional—see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • About 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, tough stem ends removed, finely chopped
  • About 6 sprigs of basil, chiffonaded (see Recipe Notes)
  • Salt and more EVOO to taste
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Directions:

1) Cook the chickpeas.

If you’re using dried chickpeas that have been soaked, place them in a large pot, cover them by about 2” with water or vegetable stock, and simmer for about 90 minutes or until soft.

If you’re using chickpeas from a can, simply drain them, rinse them, and then remove the skins. Some people don’t do this last step, as it can be a bit tedious, but I find it makes the final result a lot more attractive.

When your chickpeas are cooked or properly prepped, place them in the bowl you plan to use to serve the salad.

2) Cook the other salad ingredients and assemble!

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pan or saucepan over medium heat, until shimmering, then add the onions and cook for two minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the bell pepper and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or so.

Add about 1/2 tsp of salt, then pour the hot mixture over the chickpeas. Stir to combine, then add the rest of the spices, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.

Mix, taste, adjust as needed, and there you have it—delicious and exciting vegan chickpea salad!

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Recipe Notes

  • If you want a little more garlic and herb flavor in this salad, try infusing your olive oil before cooking with it. In an ovenproof dish, place an entire head of peeled and smashed garlic cloves. Cover them generously with olive oil, and roast at 180 degrees Fahrenheit until you see small bubbles emerging from the cloves and it smells delicious. Remove it from the oven and add any additional herbs or flavorings you’d like—rosemary, parsley, lemon zest, red pepper, etc.
  • Can’t find sumac? Just add an extra teaspoon or so of lemon juice—it won’t be the same, but it will add a citrusy kick that sumac would otherwise provide.
  • Urfa chili can be difficult to find, so if you can’t find any or don’t want to order it on Amazon, you can use Aleppo pepper flakes or standard red pepper flakes instead.
  • To chiffonade basil, stack 4-6 leaves on top of each other, then roll them up into a “cigar.” Then cut perpendicular to the “cigar” to get ribbons of bright green basil. Pro Tip: Don’t do this until right before serving, as basil can easily bruise and wilt once cut!

A Surprising Way To Use Chickpeas To Add More Flavor (& Health Benefits!) To Your Food…

Maybe you’ve heard of people making a “sourdough starter” (I mean, just about everyone tried that during the COVID-19 lockdown)… but have you heard of a “chickpea starter”?

It’s the same concept:

Basically, you take chickpeas, place them in a sanitary vessel that keeps bad bacteria out but lets oxygen in, and leave them at room temperature until the mixture begins to ferment.

Chickpea starters are used particularly in Turkish cooking to add sweetness and a crisp texture to breads. 

But if you can make your own, you can add it to soups, stews, and whatever you want for a little extra probiotic boost—not just bread!

You’ll be amazed at how versatile and tasty it is.

Here’s how to do it:

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Crush 1/3 cup of canned chickpeas using a mortar and pestle, stick blender, or food processor. 

Add the chickpeas to a sanitized glass jar, and pour 17 fl oz or about 2 cups of slightly warm water over them.

Cover the jar with a fermentation lid (these are readily available on Amazon), a traditional lid that’s mostly-but-not-all-the-way closed, or plastic wrap with a tiny hole poked in it.

Let the chickpeas rest for 12 hours, overnight, or until it’s frothy on top. That means it’s alive and ready to use!

Monika's Molecular Meals: Bright & Herbaceous Vegan Chickpea Salad

Why Is Fermented Food So Good For You (Especially If You’re Dieting)?

Like I mentioned above, when your chickpea starter gets frothy, it’s “done.”

But what I really mean by “done” is it’s alive!

Alive, as in… full of probiotic nutrients that are GREAT for your gut!

These living nutrients can help diversify your microbiome, improve digestion, make you feel better… and even better, certain probiotic strains have even been associated with increased fat burn!

(Click here to see the surprising science behind why, plus which strains can help you burn more fat.)

And if that wasn’t enough, they also make food taste a LOT better… and in my personal experience, can reduce sugar cravings significantly.

There’s just one catch: when you make things like a chickpea starter, sourdough starter, sauerkraut, and kimchi at home… you can’t be 100% positive that they contain these special good-for-you strains.

And most store-bought probiotic foods contain the same general strains, not enough of them… or don’t list the info at all.

When you don’t know which strains you’re getting… you don’t know what benefits you should be getting. And not ALL probiotic strains are good for you.

In fact, some strains of probiotics can actually cause weight GAIN! (And that isn’t what I’m looking for at. all.)

So if you’d like to know more about which probiotic strains are best for burning fat… and how to add them to your diet for extra fat burn (without chaining yourself to the elliptical at the gym)…

Check this out:

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[This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on June 7, 2020.]