Here at That Salad Lady, we love easy, out of the box recipes that go beyond the typical garden greens. We’re not knocking greens. We love greens! But sometimes it’s nice to shake things up in the flavor and nutrition department. Contrary to popular belief, you can make healthy, great-tasting salads without the green stuff. To help you do just that, we’ve taken the traditional garden salad and kicked it up a notch with our “No-Cook Chickpea Salad” bowl recipe.
Like classic garden salad recipes, our chickpea salad is packed with lots of non-starchy veggies, well-dressed for tangy zest and tossed to a tee. However, instead of the usual garden greens, we’ve brought the rich, buttery texture and sweet, nutty flavor of chickpeas to the center of the bowl. If you’re not a fan of greens, you’ll definitely want to keep this recipe handy. It’s vegan-friendly and gluten-free, full of yummy crunch, and requires absolutely no cooking!
THE BALANCING ACT
Chickpeas are among the best foundations for a “green-less” salad as they’re loaded with health-promoting vitamins, minerals and fiber, well-balanced in good fats and chock-full of plant-based protein. If you’ve ever had hummus or falafel, you’ve essentially eaten chickpeas. Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas themselves are widely available in canned and dried varieties.
After looking at the ingredient’s list you might be surprised to see that we suggest using canned chickpeas for this salad bowl recipe – that’s what makes it a “No-Cook Chickpea Salad.” While you can certainly make yours from scratch, know that, aside from the sodium used in canning, there are no major nutritional differences between canned and dried chickpeas.
Whether canned or dried, adding chickpeas to your diet is a great health move. If you decide to go the canned route, choose chickpea varieties that are low in sodium or free of added sodium – organic too if you can spring for it. While you can eat them straight from the can, we highly recommend draining and rinsing them first. These simple steps can substantially reduce the amount of sodium in canned varieties
Now that we’ve spilled the beans about chickpeas, let’s discuss the other ingredients we’ve chosen for the recipe and why.
Classic Garden Salad Staples
In keeping with tradition, That Salad Lady’s chickpea salad is packed with classic garden salad ingredients like cucumber, tomato and bell pepper. We also include plenty of onions, which we’ll talk more about in the next section.
Naturally high in disease-fighting antioxidants, tomatoes and bell peppers are nutritional powerhouses in their own right. Notably, bell peppers house large amounts of vitamin C, which is one of the biggest immunity boosters of all nutrients. Our recipe specifically calls for yellow bell pepper, as its mildly sweet flavor really complements the other ingredients. Remarkably, just one yellow bell pepper contains close to 400% of a day’s worth of vitamin C.
Tomatoes bring a huge dose of tart-sweet flavor and lycopene to our chickpea salad bowl. Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that gives tomatoes their brilliant red color. Due to their content of lycopene and other nutrients, eating tomatoes can help protect against heart disease, lower cancer risk and even promote healthy skin. We use grape tomatoes for this salad bowl, but cherry, vine or Roma tomatoes also work – and they’re equally nutritious.
Last on this list is cucumber, which brings refreshing, crunchy flavor to the bowl. Though not as deeply colored or nutritionally dense as tomatoes and bell peppers, cucumber greatly contributes to your daily water intake, which is always a win-win.
A Sweet and Spicy Duo of Onions
Onions can add a nice sweet and spicy kick to practically any salad bowl. But they’re more than mere flavor enhancers (check out our “Nutrition Glossary” to learn more).
That Salad Lady’s chickpea salad bowl recipe includes a dynamic duo of red and green onions, both of which are far more nutritionally beneficial than white and yellow varieties. Along with high levels of vitamin C, red and green onions collectively contain a dense cocktail of powerful phytonutrient antioxidants. When eaten raw and regularly, red and green onions collectively provide protection against heart disease, chronic inflammation and various forms of cancer.
More Protein and Deliciously Healthy Fat
We round out our chickpea salad bowl with feta cheese and avocado for more quality protein and healthy fat. The uniquely tangy, slightly salty flavor of feta really brings the bowl to life. But it doesn’t stop there! Besides being a valuable source of protein and calcium, feta cheese is packed with beneficial probiotics that support gut health.
The feta cheese and other ingredients are perfectly complemented by the rich buttery flavor of the avocado fruit. As one of the richest dietary sources of monounsaturated fat, avocado offers a number of benefits ranging from heart health, to blood sugar control, to cancer protection.
The Perfect Finishing Touches
For the perfect finish, we top off our chickpea salad bowl with freshly chopped cilantro to give it a citrusy twist, and a deliciously tangy vinaigrette dressing made with white balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic and dried seasonings. You just won’t believe how flavorful and filling a salad without an ounce of meat can be.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
As no cooking is required for That Salad Lady’s chickpea salad, the bulk of the work is in the chopping. As always, using a high-quality chef’s knife will make the process a whole lot easier. We suggest chopping the cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes and red onion in one take. You can then combine them all with your drained and rinsed chickpeas in a large bowl. Consider this to be the basic blend for your chickpea salad.
We recommend letting the basic blend chill in the fridge until you’re actually ready to build your bowl – you can even store this overnight. Avocado, green onions and cilantro taste better when freshly cut so chop those up just prior to serving the salad.
Once you’ve chopped the bulk of the ingredients for the salad bowl, you can then gather all the other ingredients for That Salad Lady’s “Tangy Vinaigrette Dressing” (see recipe card). At this point, you’ll simply blend or mix the ingredients to your desired consistency.
Start by adding everything to your blender or food processor. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid and just shake it up until everything’s well-mixed. You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
When you’re ready to build your bowl, chop up the avocado, green onion and cilantro, and then add them to the chilled chickpea mix or “basic blend” (we recommend setting aside some chopped green onions and a little cilantro for garnish).
Whether you use our dressing or another type, it’s best not to “dress” the salad until you’re ready to eat. Dressing can cause the ingredients to get soggy and, if you’re planning for leftovers, you won’t be as happy with your creation the next day. When it’s time to eat, simply stir in the dressing to taste and top off the salad with sprinkles of feta cheese, green onions and cilantro.
All put together, the actual blend is large enough for six generous servings at about 350 calories each. That includes all ‘optional’ ingredients except for the dressing. Our founder, Nina, typically eats hers with added protein (see “finishing touches” below) over the course of a couple of days, as she generally eats one large meal a day.
Add Your Finishing Touches
To boost the protein content and overall filling effect of your salad throw in a handful of chopped chicken breast, cooked shrimp, a hard-boiled egg or even roasted extra-firm tofu. Visit our Nutrition Glossary for more ideas, as it’s all about making YOU confident in building YOUR bowl.
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
No-Cook Chickpea SaladCourse: Appetizers, MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Vegan-friendly and gluten-free our quick and easy chickpea salad bowl is packed with flavor, full of yummy crunch and requires absolutely no cooking!
- Base Salad Blend
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
1 medium cucumber with skin, seeded,** sliced and chopped into bite-sized cubes
1 yellow pepper (orange or red peppers also work), cored, sliced and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (cherry, vine or roma tomatoes also work)
1/2 large red onion, sliced and chopped or diced
4-6 green onions (scallions) with tops and bulbs, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado peeled, pitted and diced or sliced
1/2-1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles (optional)
- Tangy Vinaigrette Dressing (Optional)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar***
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Mix the Base Blend
- Separately rinse the chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes and red onion, and then combine them all in a large salad bowl.****
- Cover the bowl and let the mixture chill until remaining ingredients are prepared or even overnight.
- Prepare the Dressing
- If using That Salad Lady’s tangy vinaigrette dressing, add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor.
- With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid or even a bowl and just shake or whisk until everything’s well-mixed.
- You can store any extra dressing in a tightly covered container for up to 10 days.
- Our dressing can be substituted for a simple balsamic vinaigrette or sweet Italian dressing if you wish.
- Build the Salad
- Portion out the chilled salad blend according to your needs.
- Chop up the avocado, green onion and cilantro, divide them to suit your portion size and then add them to the blend (set aside some chopped green onions and a little cilantro for garnish).
- Stir in the dressing to taste and top off the salad with sprinkles of feta cheese (if using), green onions and cilantro.
- *Aside from the sodium used in canning, there are no major nutritional differences between canned and dried chickpeas. While you can certainly make your chickpeas from scratch, to make it a “no-cook” recipe we suggest using canned chickpeas. Just choose a brand that’s low in sodium or free of added sodium – organic too if you can spring for it.
- **Scrape out cucumber seeds to avoid watering down the salad bowl.
- ***You can find white balsamic vinegar at your local supermarket, generally wherever you’d find other types of vinegar and cooking oils. You can also use regular vinegar if that’s all you have but you might need to add more honey to taste.
- ****Avocado, green onions and cilantro taste better when freshly cut so chop those up just prior to serving the salad.
- To boost the protein content and filling effect of your bowl, throw in a handful of chopped chicken breast, cooked shrimp, a hard-boiled egg or even roasted extra-firm tofu.
- The noted calorie count applies to 6 generous servings with ‘optional’ ingredients but without dressing. Depending on your eating style, you can double your portions and eat less meals or store the basic blend in the fridge and eat multiple bowls over the course of multiple days.