Ever since the United Nations declared 2016 the Year of the Pulse, I’ve been trying to include at least one serving a day in my diet. Pulses, otherwise known as beans, dry peas and lentils, are fiber and protein powerhouses — not to mention that, at roughly a dollar a pound, they’re dirt-cheap. Thankfully, they also taste delicious.
Since “chickpea” sounds a lot like “chicken,” I thought chickpeas would be a natural swap in these Mediterranean-inspired shawarma pitas. Covered in spices and roasted to crispy perfection, they are then tucked into warmed pita bread and covered in a creamy hummus-dill sauce. Add in a few colorful vegetables and you’re left with a flavor-packed sandwich that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.
At first glance, this recipe may seem like it takes more ingredients than it’s worth, but they’re mainly spices that can be found in well-stocked pantries. To me, my spice pantry is king, giving me the ability to add maximum flavor without added fat. In healthy cooking, seasoning is everything, and for that, spices are worth their weight in gold. If you find that you don’t need a large jar, head to the bulk-bin section of your local grocery store for just the amount you need.
For a “cook once, eat twice” approach, transform any leftovers into a chickpea shawarma salad: Layer the vegetables with roasted chickpeas and top it with dollops of hummus-dill dressing.
Chickpea Shawarma Pitas with Hummus-Dill Dressing
Yields 4 pita sandwiches; 3/4 cup hummus dressing
2 cups cooked chickpeas, patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 large tomato, sliced thin
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup hummus
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until browned and slightly crispy.
Wrap pitas in foil and place in the oven the last 2 minutes of cooking to warm.
While the chickpeas are cooking, whisk together the hummus, lemon juice, garlic and dill. Thin with water, if needed, for desired consistency.
To serve, divide the cucumber, lettuce, tomato and red onion among the pitas and top with chickpeas. Drizzle with hummus dressing and serve.
Per serving (1 sandwich with 2 tablespoons dressing): Calories 342; Fat 7.4 g (Saturated 0.6 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 561 mg; Potassium 577 mg; Carbohydrate 62 g; Fiber 8.2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 13.4 g
Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.”