If you’ve never had a bánh mì, it is a Vietnamese sandwich, typically made with salty-sweet marinated pork. It’s tangy, too, from the pickled radishes and carrots, and spicy from the jalapeños. It’s all of my favorite flavors housed between a crusty baguette. I’ve turned this classic sandwich into a lighter, plant-forward salad, fusing in a Tex-Mex avocado crema as the dressing. The honey–soy sauce roasted chickpeas, used in place of the pork, are good on their own as a snack. This salad takes a bit of work when done in a single breadth, but most of it can be made ahead, like the Quick-Pickled Radishes and Carrots, the croutons, and even the Avocado Crema. When prepped in advance, dinner takes no time at all to throw together and tastes this good.
Quick-Pickled Radishes and Carrots (recipe below)
The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman
Prepare the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain, rinse, and dry the chickpeas and place on the prepared baking sheet. Add all the remaining chickpea ingredients into a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour the glaze on the chickpeas, tossing to evenly coat. Roast for 30 minutes or until lightly charred, stirring halfway through.
Make Quick-Pickled Radishes and Carrots. Follow the instructions below. This can be done up to 3 weeks in advance.
Make the croutons. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high. Once hot, add the cubed bread. Toss with the oil and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until toasted with a slight chew remaining in the center. Remove from the heat. This can be done up to 1 week in advance and stored covered at room temperature.
Make the crema. In a high-powered blender or food processor, add all the crema ingredients; cover and blend until smooth. Add additional water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach a sauce/dressing consistency. This can be made up to 1 week in advance.
Prepare the toppings. To assemble the salad, divide the greens evenly among 4 plates. Top with quick-pickled radishes and carrots, roasted chickpeas, croutons, crema, and the desired toppings. For a zippier flavor, add a tiny spoonful of the pickle juice onto the salad.
Turn this recipe into walking tacos by trading out the croutons for crushed sweet potato tortilla chips. Walking tacos are just as they sound, tacos that walk with you. They are often served in a small bag of crushed tortilla chips with all the usual toppings. These are fun to serve at parties. Create a walking taco bar for individual assembly. Serve with about 2 cups of finely chopped greens.
Quick-Pickled Radishes and Carrots
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. In a pint-sized Ball jar with measurements or a glass bowl, add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Add the boiling water to the vinegar mixture. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Submerge the carrots and radishes in the pickling solution and let sit for at least 30 minutes. This can be done up to 3 weeks in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator.
Recipe excerpted from The Minimalist Kitchen. Copyright 2018 Oxmoor House. Cover image courtesy: Time Inc. Books. Author photo credit: Melissa Coleman. Food Photographer: Kim Cornelison. Food Stylist: Diana Scanlon.