Chickpea & Avocado Salad Lettuce Boats

 Like many children of the 80's, tuna sandwiches were a frequent flyer in my Rainbow Bright lunchbox. And, oh, how I loved them. But as I grew older and started shifting my diet towards more plant based foods and less grains, I longed for something that filled the void that tuna sandwiches left in my meal plan.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad Lettuce Boats

It was during this time that my circle of friends included a handful of wise, tried-and-true vegans and vegetarians. One secret that they clued me into was subbing chickpeas for tuna and chicken in meat-style salads. When chickpeas are mashed, they take on a similar texture to the canned meats so many of us grew up on. The addition of mashed avocados came about more as an experiment to convince my mayo-hating husband to give this salad a try. Pitch the bread for some beautiful lettuce leaves andthe result was a delicious concoction that I almost prefer over my childhood memories.   

Chickpea & Avocado Salad Lettuce Boats

Can't eat it all in one sitting? Neither can I ! The addition of lemon juice keeps the avocados from browning as quickly, making it perfect for Rainbow Bright lunchboxes of this generation or for keeping the leftovers beautiful for tomorrow's lunch!   

For Chickpea & Avocado Salad:

2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed  (canned is fine too)

1 large stalk celery, washed and minced

1 large carrot, washed and grated

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 ripe avocados, pitted and mashed

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste) 

fine grain sea salt and black pepper to taste

To Assemble:

Leaves from 1 head of Bibb or Butter lettuce, washed and dried

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until slightly crumbly in texture. Add mashed avocado, carrots, celery and garlic to the bowl and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.

2. Stir in Dijon mustard,  lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

3. To assemble, arrange the lettuce leaves in a single layer on a large platter. Scoop roughly 1/4 of a cup salad onto the center each leaf.   

4. Enjoy or store leftover salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 day.