Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

By Ann Fulton

An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 
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An economical can of beans teams up with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. No cooking required! 

 

This protein-packed, plant-based salad starts with an economical pantry staple and makes a filling lunch or light dinner. I love it for its flavor and filling nature, and I also appreciate its versatility.

You can add a variety of garden-fresh produce, including or omitting ingredients based on what you enjoy or have on hand. Tomatoes and/or bell pepper, cucumbers, and red onion or scallions form my usual base.

Then I like to add some salty feta and olives. Kalamata and green work well, and I often use a mix. A tangle of fresh herbs adds flavor when available, and a last-minute addition of avocado provides satisfying creaminess.

But remember, the ingredients work interchangeably, so if you don’t care for bell pepper, skip it. Olives don’t work for everyone? Omit them or serve on the side. Same with the feta. (Note that without the feta, this vegetarian dish will be vegan.)

Don’t have fresh herbs, stir in a handful of arugula or chopped baby spinach. Or add a half teaspoon of dried oregano and call it a day.

Would you like to ratchet up the protein content even further? Stir in chopped or shredded cooked chicken or a can of well drained tuna or salmon.

Of course, if you go really crazy with the add-ins, you may want to make extra vinaigrette. And on the vinaigrette subject, you may absolutely substitute Red Wine Vinaigrette, Absolutely Famous Greek Dressing, Zesty Italian Dressing, or your favorite store-bought equivalent.

The taste will change slightly depending on which dressing you choose, but they will all yield classic Mediterranean flavor and make this colorful bowl of beans and vegetables truly shine.

In the mood for a handheld meal? Simply spread a layer of hummus or mashed avocado in a pita and then fill with the salad.

An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 

I also love to eat a bowl of this with a half an avocado scooped out of the shell and placed on the side of the bowl. Then I scoop a little of the avocado into each bite. It’s very satisfying. To make the meal heartier yet, I add a half can of drained canned wild salmon or tuna.

An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 

Fiber- and protein-rich chickpeas form the filling foundation of this salad. In a pinch, you could substitute cannellini or another white bean – even red kidney beans. If doubling the recipe, you could use one of each. With food prices rising, a basic can of beans holds more allure than usual!

An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 

The quick and easy vinaigrette imparts great flavor. However, if you have Red Wine Vinaigrette, Absolutely Famous Greek Dressing, or Zesty Italian Dressing on hand, they will deliver equally great flavor. Your favorite store-bought equivalent could be used as well. 

An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 

To keep everyone happy, feel free to omit an ingredient that you don’t care for or have on hand. Add-ins like olives and feta are also easy to serve on the side.

An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 

Have leftovers? They will keep well, but because cucumbers expel moisture once salted, the flavor of the dressing becomes slightly diluted. To remedy this, I add an extra sprinkle of salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Don’t miss the many delicious ways, listed above and in the recipe notes, to vary and bulk up the salad. And if you think of any new and exciting ways to enjoy this wholesome recipe, please comment! 

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings (recipe doubles easily)
An economical can of beans mixes with fresh veggies and a flavorful vinaigrette in this versatile, plant-based salad that can be adapted in countless ways. 
For the salad:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ a large English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup; may sub pickling cucumbers or a regular cucumber, seeding the latter to reduce moisture)
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup; use color of choice or a mix of two)
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped vine-ripened tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley (or a mix of basil, mint, dill, chives, and/or oregano)
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion (may substitute chopped scallions)
  • ¼ cup pitted and sliced Kalamata or green olives (or a mix)
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta, or more to taste
  • Optional: 1 chopped avocado

 

For the vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons (28ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Instructions:

For the dressing: In a small bowl or jar, stir together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. May prepare in advance and store on the counter for up to 2 hours or cover and refrigerate. Stir well before using.

For the salad: Place the chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, herbs, onion, olives, and feta in a large serving bowl. Drizzle the dressing overtop, and toss to combine. If time allows, let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (longer is fine), or enjoy immediately. If using, stir in the avocado just before serving, and add an extra sprinkle of salt and pepper if desired. If you expect leftovers, you may wish to use the avocado as a topping, as it will brown over time.

Notes:

To peel the cucumber or not? You may peel the cucumber if you like. I tend to leave the skin on unless it has a waxy coating. Mini pickling cucumber may also be used.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Serving ideas: This salad is delightful as is but can be transformed in several ways. Try it inside a pita with a spread of hummus or mashed avocado. Add grilled chicken or shrimp and serve it over salad greens (in which case you may want to make extra vinaigrette to coat the greens). Or stir in a drained can of tuna or salmon.

Do red onions have too much bite for you? You can always omit them or substitute chopped scallions or chives. However, you can also reduce the bite and retain good flavor by soaking the chopped onions in ice cold water while preparing the other ingredients. When ready to add them, simply drain them well and pat dry.

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