I served as “chef” at a recent Writer’s Retreat and many of our attendees had a variety of food preferences and needs. To please everyone, I created this vegan version of “meat in a lettuce cup” and also made a version using ground turkey in lieu of the chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). I served it for lunch with sides of tortilla chips and salsa and a tray of raw, bite-size veggies. The pans were empty, so I’ll take it as a hit!
Chickpeas contain iron, vitatims B-6 and K, folate, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesisum, manganese, choline and selenium. They are also an excellent gluten-free source of protein and fiber and enjoy a long shelf life when purchased in the can. We’ll bring a good stock of these when we are on extensive off-shore adventures for quick meals, snacks and making hummus.
This is low-cal, light and fresh, yet also filling. The chickpea version is also good cold and would make for a fun picnic.
Variations: If you like spicy food, you can add 1 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper or garnish with thinly sliced jalapenos or other hot peppers. The fillings can also be served in corn or flour tortillas and eaten like a taco or rolled like a burrito if lettuce isn’t readily available. It would also be good in a bowl atop salad greens.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or other oil)
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 4 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt (or regular salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper)
- 8-10 romaine lettuce leaves
- Optional toppings: avocado, tomato, sweet mini peppers, cilantro, salsa (grated cheese and sour cream for the non-vegan version)
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add olive oil and onion. Cook 3-4 minutes until onion is translucent.
- Add the chickpeas and and roughly mash with a potato ricer or back of a fork. You don’t want to fully mash, but instead create a mixture that is rough with some chickpeas still mostly intact.
- Add the walnuts and seasonings and mix thoroughly.
- Cook on simmer for approximately 8-10 minutes.
- If the mixture seems too dry after tasting, add a few tablespoons of warm water at a time and mix gently until it is the consistency you desire.
- Spoon chickpea mixture into lettuce leaves and garnish with your favorite toppings.
The pics above show both versions: Left – ground turkey on bottom and chickpeas on top; Right – chickpeas on bottom and ground turkey on top.