Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.
Whether you have rosy associations with potato, macaroni, and other salads lovingly glommed together with mayo or you’ve always been a bit uneasy with the whole genre—there is something for you to love in this recipe.
It’s a very 2018 version of the classic deli salad experience, jeweled with bright, crunchy pickled bits and fresh herbs. It's entirely vegan but still has the comforting qualities of the egg salad sandwich your dad or favorite diner might have made. Such is the effect of Gena Hamshaw’s recipe oeuvre—both on this very website, and in her most recent, very beautiful and compelling book Power Plates.
In part, this polarity is because the salad is anchored by chickpeas, the ever-popular, ever-convenient chicken of the legume world. Smashed haphazardly, they provide both creaminess and heft, and give all those crunchy, briny elements something to bounce around on.
To cleave the salad together, you have a choice: either vegan mayo for a classic deli experience, or tahini, a brilliant substitute that brings all the same creaminess and binding power as mayo, with a different profile: nutty, smoky, and extremely cozy with chickpeas.
Beyond this, Gena’s recipe is one of those that ticks every box: Great to make ahead. Great to pack for lunch. Great to mix and match into any salad, sandwich, wrap, or grain bowl you fancy. No-cook. Vegan, hearty, and brimming with both the protein that will power you through the day, and the liveliness to keep you good and awake for it. It might even brush your hair and organize that creeping pile of papers on your desk, if you ask it nicely.
This particular smashed chickpea outfit from Gena is a pile of vegetables of all colors, more pickled bits, and an everyday lemony tahini dressing streamed judiciously on top. You would not likely find any of this behind your favorite deli counter, but you will be bonded to it just the same.
Deli Bowls with Smashed Chickpea Salad
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce, or 425g) cans, drained and rinsed
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 scallions, green parts only, chopped
- 1 large dill pickle, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
- 1 tablespoon capers (optional)
- 6 tablespoons (90g) tahini or vegan mayonnaise, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups (150g) firmly packed baby spinach, baby arugula, or chopped lettuce
- 2 cups (300g) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 3/4 cup (175ml) Everyday Lemon Tahini Dressing (see below)
- 4 whole wheat pita breads, cut into quarters, or 4 slices rye, pumpernickel, or sourdough toast, cut into quarters
- Optional toppings: Chopped dill pickles, sauerkraut, pickled beets, chopped scallions
Everyday Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water, plus more if desired
- 1/4 cup (60g) tahini
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Photos by Julia Gartland
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].