My Recipe Book: Chickpea Salad (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I love the sticky heat; more than anything, it reminds me of home. Not just your regular, run-of-the-mill hot summer day, but the kind of heat that's wet - when humidity hangs in the air like a thick blanket that you can only escape by jumping into the ocean or turning on a rickety old ceiling fan. I know other people can't stand this kind of weather, but I'm from Florida, y'all, and I love the way it brings color to my face, makes my hair go just a little bit crazy, and coats my skin with a slightly romantic dewy texture (other people might "sweat," but I grew up in this - so I don't sweat, I glisten, obviously).

The other thing that this weather makes me crave is picnics in the park. Picture this: bright green grass underneath a big tree with friendly wide leaves casting shadows onto the ground below. A freshly spread blanket with a cooler resting quietly on a corner, a feast of all the best summer foods just waiting to be consumed. Good company, great friends, and easy conversation in the sunshine. Also, maybe an open container or two (not that I'm advocating that or anything...). Now doesn't that sound ideal?

My favorite food to eat at a summer picnic used to be chicken salad on a toasted sesame seed bagel with lettuce. If that sounds specific - it is. I used to live on the Upper East Side and every chance I had, I would go by a place called "Hot & Crusty" (don't judge it on it's name). Those of you who live in New York may know it, because it is a chain here, and those of you who don't - look it up now. They have the best bagels in the city, I'm fully convinced - and I've lived here for almost a decade. They not only have your typical cream cheese, though, they also have a crazy array of salads. And the chicken salad... well, it was addicting. On the weekends, I would get the sandwich neatly wrapped into some wax paper, stroll over to Cedar Hill, and just sit in the grass, reading and eating, happy as can be.

Now that I can't have chicken salad, or bagels for that matter (thanks for that, TRFD), I've been looking for something to fill the void this summer. And that's exactly what I've found with this Chickpea Salad from Minimalist Baker. I usually have two healthy scoops of it on some toasted rice and / or almond bread with mixed greens and tomato, but it's so delicious that you can serve it all on it's own, too. In a nutshell? Definitely picnic-worthy.

Chickpea Salad (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe adapted, VERY minimally, from one of my top all-time favorite blogs to follow, Minimalist Baker - seriously, they are something else. Go check all their drool-worthy food pics and other recipes out.

- 1 Can of Chickpeas (15 oz approximately, rinse and drained)
- 1/3 Cup of Roasted and Salted Sunflower Seeds
- 3 Tablespoons of Tahini
- 1 Tablespoon of Garlic (roasted and / or chopped)
- 1/4 Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup
- 1/3 Cup of Cucumber (chopped)
- 1/4 Cup of Red Onion (chopped)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Dill (finely chopped)
- A Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt and Pepper (optional)

1. Rinse and drain can of chickpeas, and place into medium-sized bowl. Mash the chickpeas with a fork until it's about half mashed and half intact. Keep going if you're into a more mashed kinda salad.
2. In the same bowl, combine the chickpeas with the sunflower seeds, tahini, garlic, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, chipped cucumber, chopped red onion, and chopped dill. Mix well! Top with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and / or pepper to taste.
3. That's really it! Put it on top of your favorite toast for a lovely little sandwich, eat it with crackers, or just spoon it straight up into your mouth. This one is great to make-ahead for lunches at the office (or at the park!), and can be refrigerated for a few days. 

What are some of your favorite summer foods? Any other good picnic-worthy recipes that I should try? Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com. Happy summer, y'all!

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