Even though I work from home about ten steps away from the kitchen, I have a terrible habit of not breaking for food. Fortunately I've gotten a bit better since setting pop-up alerts on my computer ("eat breakfast!" "lunch time!") and planning for meals like these vegetarian chickpea pitas. They're refreshing, filling, best made ahead of time, and easy to eat. No excuses!
Marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, and spices like cumin and paprika, the chickpeas are zesty, smoky, and moreish. To turn them into a sandwich, they are spooned into halves of pita bread (try making your own!) alongside fresh greens, crisp raw onions, and any other vegetables you want to add – tomatoes when they're sweet, crunchy cucumbers, whatever you have in season. I especially like adding ribbons of red-stemmed chard, which add lovely color and texture. Spinach and lettuce are fine alternatives.
Serve the pitas with dollops of minted yogurt (my favorite), feta cheese, or swap the dairy for tahini to make a vegan version. The sandwich is filling but not heavy, so it's perfect for a workday lunch.
Chickpea Pitas4 servings (serving size: 2 pita halves)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cups (or 2 15-ounce cans) cooked and drained chickpeas
1 cup yogurt (preferably Greek-style)
2 tablespoons chopped mint
4 pita bread rounds (lightly toasted or warmed, if desired)
8 cups chard cut into 1/4-inch ribbons (can substitute spinach or lettuce)
3-4 tomatoes, sliced (or equivalent amount in smaller tomatoes)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Parsley and mint leaves for garnish (optional)
In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, cumin, salt, and paprika. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine. The longer the chickpeas marinate, the better they taste, so if you have time, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a couple of days.
In a separate bowl combine the yogurt and mint. Again, this is better if it sits for awhile, so cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Cut pita breads in half. Line each half with chard or other greens, then fill with tomatoes, chickpeas, and onions. Garnish with parsley and mint, if desired. Serve with minted yogurt spooned on top.
(Images: Emily Ho)