Growing up, it wasn't a family event without my grandmother Gee's chicken salad. And these days, it's only my mother and myself who know the actual "recipe". A list of ingredients kept in our heads, mixed together in the right ratios - tasting as we go, asking each other if it "looks right".
This is how I learned to be a good cook.
Hands on in the kitchen with my mother from a young age - tasting, adjusting, and tasting again. Knowing if it needs creamy, crunchy, a bit more acid, or a touch of salt. You keep going until you get it just right.
My vegetarian chickpea salad is a modern day tribute to Gee's chicken salad - keeping the tradition of pecans, celery, and dijon mustard while adding my twist with antioxidant rich mulberries and avocado mayonnaise.
I'm loving it as shown in lettuce cups or open-faced on sourdough rye with broccoli sprouts. It keeps for several days in the fridge and packs well for on-the-go lunches and picnics.
Chickpea Salad with Celery, Pecans, and Mulberries
3 Tbs. avocado mayonnaise
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 celery stalks from inner ribs, finely diced
1/3 cup pecans, toasted + chopped
1/4 cup dried mulberries or golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2-3 Tbs. chopped shallot
Fine sea salt + pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and several grinds fresh black pepper.
Add chickpeas and lightly mash into the dressing with the back of a spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients and taste to adjust seasoning - more salt, pepper, lemon, etc.
Let sit 30 minutes for flavors to meld before serving.
Salad can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Serve with crackers, as a sandwich with sprouts, in lettuce cups, or over salad greens.
Note: For a vegan option, I like Sir Kensington's Veganaise.