For a person who works in food media, I have to admit that I’m really, really bad at making myself lunch. I have all the necessary tools right at my fingertips — the plans, the recipes, even the gear — and yet day in and day out, I get the same salad from a local chain, or sandwich from a deli, or whatever assortment of prepared lunch foods is available from the grocery store at 8:30 in the morning. I deeply admire all of my coworkers who take to the kitchen at lunchtime and assemble beautiful salads or hearty toasts, or even just have it together enough to pack leftovers.
So why can’t I do the same?
The short, non-answer answer is: I don’t know! Help! The real answer is because I’m too lazy. Because every morning, after making myself breakfast and coffee (that counts for something, right?), and knowing that I’ll be making dinner later, the idea of also making lunch is dreadful. And so I don’t. (Except for the occasional turkey sandwich or peanut butter and jelly.) And I’m ashamed. Plenty of people — many of whom I work with — make breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day and are surviving just fine. So I made a goal to be better about bringing lunch this year. Which is where this chickpea salad comes in.
If there’s a lazier salad out there, someone please let me know. The key to this one is that there’s no chopping or cooking involved, and so it takes very minimal effort. And if you open cans and jars really fast, it should come together in about five minutes, which is about as much time as I have to spend making it.
I like to think of it as the lunch equivalent of a dump cake — a dump salad, if you will — because you’re really just tossing a bunch of things together, throwing it all in a bowl (or to-go container), and getting on your way. I also like to think of it as my gateway to better homemade lunches.
Of course there is ample opportunity for modification, whether you want to make additions, are feeling ambitious, or simply have more than five minutes. I first made this recipe with whole cherry tomatoes (again, to avoid chopping) only to very quickly deem them too big and unfit. But I’ve also thrown in toasted nuts, croutons, those little baby mozzarella balls — basically any other already bite-size foods I can get my hands on — and it’s generally been pretty great. At the end of the day, lunch is whatever suits you and your needs best. Some days that’s a ham and cheese, but more often than not now, it’s this salad.
No-Chop Chickpea Salad
Makes: 4 servings
2 15.5-oz cans of chickpeas (no salt added is best)
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, torn into pieces
1/2 cup capers (non-pareil), drained
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, torn into pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 cups arugula