In writing about the inspiration behind her Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas (which I adapted into Parsnip-Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas), Smitten Kitchen described the dish as an attempt to deconstruct and then reconstruct one of her favorite snacks: carrot sticks dipped in hummus.
This hummus “deconstruction/reconstruction” idea intrigued me. I thought about the foods that are commonly dipped in hummus: pita bread, slices of bell pepper and cucumbers, in addition to carrots and the ingredients that go into hummus (chickpeas, sesame seed paste, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil). I realized that, in a “deconstructed” states, these ingredients could probably be “reconstructed” into a pretty decent salad.
Let’s start with the hummus. Chickpeas are great in salad, but to make them a more interesting focal point, I decided to roast them. Chickpeas are good but roasted they transcend to high plain of eating bliss. Tahini, however, doesn’t strike me as something that works in salad. The oily sesame paste solidifies upon contact with an acid, which is why it works so well in hummus, but wouldn’t produce a good dressing. But tahini is just sesame seeds ground and mixed with oil, both of which are great salad additions.
The vegetable dippers are all logical salad additions and can’t be further deconstructed but pita bread, however, can be. I used wheat berries, which are hulled kernels of wheat. I rounded out the Mediterranean-styled salad with arugula, chopped parsley and feta cheese. If I’d had them on hand, some kalamata olives would have been a great addition too.
15 oz. can chickpeas
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ cup dried wheat berries, rinsed
1 ¾ cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups baby arugula
1/3 cup diced sweet onion
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1/2 carrot, peeled and shredded
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 oz. feta cheese, cubed
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, salt and smoked paprika. Spread evenly on a baking sheet (line with aluminum foil for easy clean up) and roast until chickpeas as dry and crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Stir chickpeas about halfway through to promote even roasting.
2. Combine wheat berries, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour until the wheat berries are tender. Drain and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
3. Add minced garlic to a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mash with the back of a spoon or a muddler until it makes a paste (alternatively, use a mortar and pestle or a garlic twist). Whisk in the lemon juice and 3 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil.
4. In a large bowl, combine roasted chickpeas, cooked wheat berries, arugula, sweet onion, red pepper, carrot, cucumber, sesame seeds and parsley. Add dressing and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with cubes of feta cheese.