Wednesday 26 November 2014

Meatless "Chicken" (Chickpea) Salad Chard Wraps

I was a vegetarian for three years during my teens. During that time I really loved a faux chicken salad that I would find at a health food store in Calgary. It was basically chicken salad with mashed chickpeas instead of chicken. I hadn't had it in forever so I wanted to make a version of it that I could share on the blog. This was also the perfect opportunity to try out making wraps with greens instead of bread. Originally I was planning on using raw collard greens (which work great, by the way) but the organic store didn't have any today. They did have a bunch of swiss chard that happened to be enormous and that's exactly what you need to make a good collard or chard wrap. It's like using a pita bread or a tortilla, only a big leaf instead!

By using chickpeas you're cutting down on fat and calories but you're still getting the protein and adding a ton of fibre which will make it easier to digest (not to mention, vegetarian-friendly). By replacing bread with the leaves you're adding more greens to your diet, which is something we all need to do, but you're also removing carbohydrates and gluten. Although I was originally planning on using collard greens, I settled on the chard which I had never tried in this application before. Swiss chard is known for having a slightly bitter but also a rather sweet flavour going on which actually worked really well, I have to say. So collard greens and swiss chard are totally interchangeable. Just use what you can find and make sure you get big leaves. 

The leaf instead of bread concept isn't a recipe (it's one ingredient) so I'll share the chickenless chicken salad recipe. In this particular version I filled my wraps with the salad, romaine lettuce and a great cottage cheese brand that I like because it's organic and not runny at all. You can do absolutely anything you want and there are millions of options. Anything that you would put in a cold wrap, you can put in this. Since you've replaced the bread with healthy dark greens you allow yourself some give in terms of what you put in it. What I mean by that is since the wrap is so healthy you can afford to add some not as healthy, but oh so delicious fillings. I would not be opposed to adding fried bacon or a salty cheddar or feta to one of these. That's all up to you though. So have fun!


2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp mustard (preferably Dijon) 
Juice from half a lemon (or 2 tsps of vinegar) 
1/2 tbsp runny honey
Your favourite hot sauce (to taste, or omit)

Once again, just to be thorough, get the biggest collard or chard leaves you can find. Flatbread size and shape is ideal. Be sure to rinse in cold water and then dry very well. 

Pretend you're a surgeon and carefully slice out most of the stem as cleanly as you can. The stem can either be discarded, reserved for stock or chopped finely and added to your filling. The steam will (or nearly) reach the tip of the leaf. Leave the stem in tact for about four inches so that the two sides remain connected.

Don't worry about the huge slice left in the leaves. We're going to use two leaves per wrap which not only doubles the nutritional benefits of chard but allows us to layer them in such a way that the filling is never exposed. Removing the stem is integral because it is quite rigid compared to the leaf and it will get in the way of rolling the perfect wrap. 

Let's get on with the recipe. Rinse and drain the chickpeas in a colander. Place them in a container with a flat bottom and plenty of surface area with walls coming up the sides.

Using a potato masher, mash the chickpeas until you get the following consistency. There should be few or no chickpeas left whole, but it shouldn't be total mush either. 

Add the carrot, celery and scallion then mix to combine.

To make the dressing, combine the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice (or vinegar), honey, hot sauce (optional), salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking before proceeding to the next step.

Incorporate the dressing with the chickpea salad and stir to coat. That's it!

To make a chard wrap, take two of the prepped leaves and layer them in such a way that the slices are covered by more chard.

I'm right-handed so these instructions are suited to righties but feel free to do whatever is most comfortable. Leave about 3 inches of space between your filling and the edge of the left side of the leaves. The amount you put in will depend on the size of your leaves. Be careful not to be too generous or you could end up with very messy wraps. Use these photos as a guide. The top side of the leaf is more vibrant in colour and glossier. For esthetic purposes, place that side down so that it appears on the outside of the wrap.

Then roll up just as you would any wrap or burrito. Once the filling is covered, tuck in the sides to seal in the filling as you roll. Be sure to be semi-firm with your roll so that the filling is neatly enveloped, but not so firm that it is spewing out the sides. For this much chickpea salad you'll need about 16 leaves to make 8 wraps. 

These are fantastic if you are a health-conscious vegetarian or even just somebody aiming to lose weight, these are for you. I can't stand when people diet and torture themselves with what they can and cannot eat. Eating healthy and low fat can be simple, delicious, savvy and fun! While this version is totally raw, chard (especially collard greens) can stand grilling, frying, steaming and roasting to an extent if that pleases you. Cooking will completely depend on what you fill it with. 

You have a lot of creative control if you decide to use this recipe or even just the leafy wrap technique. I hope I was able to inspire you to make your own version. That's what makes putting this blog together all worthwhile. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback and I'll be happy to assist. In the meantime, keep cooking and take care.


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