Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
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Today’s recipe for Mediterranean chickpea salad is bursting with flavor and a breeze to prepare. This is not your average dinner salad! As humble as it may seem, this unique combination of fresh ingredients is unlike any other salad you have tried. Add the za’atar spiced croutons and get ready for a dynamite dinner experience.
As a staple food in North African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines, chickpeas are enjoyed in countless ways. We have Mediterranean Hummus, Falafel, and Chickpea Masala, just to name a few.
Today’s chickpea salad recipe is a gift from the Mediterranean. This flavorful dish will fill you up without slowing you down.
For more hearty salads from the Silk Road, check out this Greek Lentil Salad, Kisir (Turkish Bulgur Salad), or this Ptitim (Israeli Couscous Salad).
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Croutons – Zaatar Spice and olive oil transform humble bread cubes into flavor powerhouses.
- Dressing – A blend of lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne brightens up the flavors of the entire salad.
- Chickpeas – These legumes, also known as garbanzo beans, are earthy, nutty, and mildly sweet. Use canned or dried beans, just be sure to convert. About 1.5 cups of dried beans equal roughly 30 oz of canned beans.
- Persian Cucumbers – Thin skin, low moisture, and tiny seeds make Persian cukes ideal. English hothouses can be substituted.
- Veggies – Carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers add a variety of fresh veggie flavors, textures, and colors.
- Feta Cheese – Adds a briny sharpness and soft, crumbly texture.
- Pomegranate Seeds – Add a burst of sweetly tart flavor and a deep reddish-purple hue.
- Pine Nuts – Toasted pine nuts add a sweet nuttiness and crunch. Check the snacks, nuts, and baking aisles at your supermarket. Finely chopped cashews are the closest substitute if needed.
- Herbs – Mint, cilantro, and parsley add freshness, complex flavors, and a dazzling splash of deep green.
- Arugula – I like the pepperiness of arugula but feel free to switch it out for any of your favorite greens.
HOW TO MAKE MEDITERRANEAN CHICKPEA SALAD
- Make Croutons. Preheat your oven to 250° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the cubed bread, zaatar spice, and olive oil to a bowl. Toss to evenly coat and spread out onto the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cubes are golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Make the Dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
- Toast the Pine Nuts. Gently toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat until they are golden brown. Sprinkle them with salt and set aside.
- Mix the Vegetables. Add the chickpeas, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, red pepper, herbs, feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pine nuts to a large bowl.
- Toss & Serve. Pour the dressing all over the chickpea salad and toss to thoroughly mix. You can enjoy this salad right away. It’s best served on a bed of arugula and topped off with freshly baked za’atar croutons. Enjoy!
TIP: You can make Lebanese za’atar for a lot less money than buying it from a store. Plus, the flavor will be better.
More Tips for Making the Best Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Wait 30 Minutes. Chill your salad in the fridge for a half hour for the best results. It’s the sweet spot where the flavors have set in and the salad still looks fresh and beautiful.
- Reserve Garnishes. Set aside a small amount of the herbs, feta, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds to sprinkle on top right before serving. This is optional, of course, but it makes the presentation really pop.
- Cut Veggies the Same Size. Chopping your cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers as close to uniform as possible will make a more balanced salad. That way, you have better chances of getting all the goodness this chickpea salad recipe has to offer with every forkful.
What Pairs Well With Chickpea Salad?
- Mediterranean chickpea salad makes a great starter for all types of dishes from Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Greek Shrimp Saganaki to Lamb Shawarma (Shredded).
- For an insanely flavorful vegetarian meal, pair it with some Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice) and Briam (Greek Roasted Vegetables).
- This chickpea salad also makes a great lunch or snack option. Enjoy it as is or toss in some tuna or chicken for added protein.
Can I Make This Chickpea Salad Recipe Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can make Mediterranean chickpea salad ahead of time, but with a few caveats.
Once this salad is fully mixed up, it will last in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days. After that, it will likely start to break down and won’t look incredibly appealing.
To prepare chickpea salad ahead of time, chop up your vegetables 1-2 days ahead of time. The dressing can be made up to a week ahead of time. Keep the veggies, dressing, and cheese separate.
About 30 minutes before serving, toss the chickpeas, vegetables, herbs, seeds, and nuts with the dressing and feta cheese. With all the prep work you’ve already done, your chickpea salad will come together in under 5 minutes!
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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- 6 slices wheat or sourdough bread cubed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp zaatar spice (See Note 1)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- 30 oz cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 2 large carrots peeled and shredded
- 4 Persian cucumbers sliced (See Note 2)
- 2 plum tomatoes diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
- ½ cup pine nuts toasted
- ¼ cup mint leaves chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves chopped
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- 3 cups arugula greens
- Preheat oven to 250°F. In a bowl add the cubed bread and toss with oil and Lebanese za’atar spice. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Set aside.
- In a small fry pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until golden brown. Season with salt and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, carrot, cucumbers, tomatoes, red pepper, herbs, feta cheese, pomegranate and pine nuts.
- Pour lemon cumin dressing over chickpea salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Serve immediately over arugula greens and topped with Za’atar spiced croutons.
- You can find my recipe for Classic Lebanese Za’atar Spice Mix here.
- Persian cucumbers can be substituted with English cucumbers.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Can you sub the pine nuts for another nut & pomegranate seeds
Definitely Eileen, I’d suggest almonds or any nut of choice really. As for the pomegranate, you can omit if you don’t like.
Thank you Kevin!
I made your Mediterranean salad for a picnic yesterday! We loved it and it was a great hit with our friends!
Fantastic, so happy everyone enjoyed!
I made this today, absolutely delicious. This will be a house regular. Thank you!!¨
Thank you for sharing! I am glad you enjoyed it!
I need to dig into this salad like today! You have so many delicious ingredients in here!
You really do need to Kelsey! You will love it!
This looks so delicious and tasty! My family is going to love this! Can’t wait to give this a try!
Such a flavorful salad! Everyone at my house loved it!
Kevin, as always you bring fresh and exotic flavors. You must have been reading my mind…I am making salads from around the world for January. This one is on the list for tomorrow night!
It is packed with a lot of amazing ingredients!
I am so glad everyone enjoyed it!
A salad with a lot of healthy ingredients! Love it so much! Delicious!
This North African salad is looks absolutely delicious! Yummy!
Thank you so much!