Smashed Chickpea & Watercress Sandwich | Food For Picnics

Is There Anything a Chickpea Can’t Do?

The chickpea is at the top of its game right now. I mean, when asked if you’d prefer a chickpea sandwich, or a kidney bean sandwich, which would you go for?

I mean sure, we reach for cannelini and black beans all the time, and who doesn’t love a good lentil, but as far as popularity goes, the chickpea is probably the most widely used and Instagrammed bean of them all.

I can totally understand why. They have a cute name (way cuter than kidney bean), they are very photogenic and they are so damn versatile. From creamy hummus to roasted and crunchy salad toppers, these peas can do it all.

And they make a mighty delightful sandwich.

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I’ve seen recipes like these on the internet going under the guise of a chickpea “tuna sandwich” or something similar, but I think that’s misleading. First of all, it doesn’t taste anything like tuna, or egg, or anything else that it isn’t. Second, I just can’t bring myself to make a name for a recipe that includes air quotes.

You won’t catch me calling something a vegan “steak” or a plant-based “egg salad” sandwich, and so, this is not a “vegan tuna sandwich” or a “vegan egg salad sandwich,” as some people would like to call it.

I like calling things what they are. Cauliflower is cauliflower, it isn’t a cauliflower “wing” even if it’s been doused in hot sauce. Shredded jackfruit is shredded jackfruit, it’s not jackfruit “pulled pork.” This is a chickpea sandwich, and it’s delightful.

Ok stepping off the soapbox for a minute or two.

This sandwich travels really well, which makes it perfect to pack for school, work, or to bring to a picnic. I’d recommend using parchment paper or waxed paper - or even better, a reusable beeswax wrap (my favourite invention) to keep your sandwich generally sandwich-shaped. Plastic wrap just doesn’t cut it when a squishy backpack is involved.

A few juicy tips about making this chickpea sandwich mixture:

  1. If you want to go the extra mile and soak/cook dried chickpeas instead of using canned, you will be rewarded with a more tender creamy final product. You may even start with a bit less mayo, in case you don’t need it. Canned chickpeas are always a bit on the chalkier side, but they’re what I used here, for the sake of convenience.

  2. If you leave the mixture to sit in the fridge overnight, it will be even better than eating it right away. At my house we call this process “Fridge Cooking,” and it makes a real difference.

  3. Although using a food processor isn’t exactly smashing, I find it works much better than using a potato masher or a fork. If you use freshly cooked chickpeas, they may be soft enough that you could mash them by hand.

Side note - Pressure cooked beans & chickpeas are incredible. They cook so evenly it’s amazing. It’s one of my favourite uses of our instant pot so far.

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Smashed Chickpea & Watercress Sandwich

Mixture makes enough to stuff 6-8 sandwiches

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  • 1 can (340g) canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained.

  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced

  • 2 dill pickles, finely diced

  • 2 green onions, finely sliced

  • 80g (2 heaped Tbsp) mayo - homemade, or your fave brand, vegan is fine

  • A few dashes of Tabasco

  • 2 Tbsp pickle juice

  • A big pinch of fresh dill, or however much you like.

  1. Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor about 5-6 times, until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped.

  2. Transfer to a bowl.

  3. Add everything else, and stir until it’s nicely combined.

  4. Taste for seasoning. I didn’t add any salt to mine because I felt that the pickle juice did the trick.

  5. Build your sandwich right away, or fridge-cook overnight for best results.


For my sandwich, I used soft, grainy seedy bread, a bit of homemade mayo on both sides, a big pile of the chickpea mixture, and fresh watercress, which is one of my absolute favourite greens. Watercress is a classic combo with egg salad sandwiches, and it’s fresh spiciness goes perfectly with the creamy hearty chickpea mixture. But this is just a guideline. You know how to make a sandwich the way you like it right?

This smashed chickpea mixture can also be used for a number of non-sandwich applications. Toss it with some cold pasta for a quick pasta salad, or serve it up with chips or crackers for a nice little spread. It will of course, also be wonderful wrapped up in a pita or a soft tortilla.

The smashed chickpea sandwich is not an egg salad sandwich, nor is it a tuna sandwich. It’s a chickpea sandwich. Chickpeas aren’t a substitute for anything else. They are chickpeas, they are cute, and they are delicious.

Enjoy the last of winter! Picnic season is coming soon!