Here’s a trick to make a seriously delicious Chickpea Salad using a can of chickpeas: MARINATE them in the dressing! They absorb flavour, and turn bland into extreme tastiness in just 20 minutes.
This chickpea salad tastes as bright as it looks, and works as a main course with crusty bread, or as a side for roasts, fish, prawns or simple pan seared garlic chicken thighs.
I know it’s tempting to just grab a can of chickpeas, add green fluffage, toss with dressing and call it a day. And that has happened many a times around here, being a handy and somewhat virtuous quick meal option.
But I never deemed any of those “good enough” to share here. I just feel like you need to do something to chickpeas to make them tastier – because dressing simply doesn’t stick to chickpeas.
In this Middle Eastern chickpea salad, they’re spiced and pan fried.
And in today’s, we’re marinating the chickpeas. Toss in dressing > warm in microwave > 20 minutes > chickpeas absorb flavour = tastier chickpeas. YES!
Warming the chickpeas briefly in the microwave makes them absorb the flavour of the dressing so much more effectively!
I’m calling it a Greek Marinated Chickpea Salad only because the dressing / marinade is based on Greek Salad. For no other reason. I do not hold this out to be authentically Greek! We’re just borrowing the oregano infused dressing from Greek Salad!
What you need
Here’s what you need for this chickpea salad:
- Chickpeas – I’m just using canned here for convenience, but I’ve popped directions for cooking dried chickpeas in the recipe notes;
- Spinach – or anything similar that can be sliced thinly so it kind of melds in well with the chickpeas;
- Tomatoes – for pops of juicy freshness. Cherry or grape tomatoes, or large ones chopped into small pieces;
- Red onion – I like to do a simple quick pickle in vinegar, sugar and salt to make them floppy, bright pink, and add flavour. It takes just 30 minutes on the counter – or you can take the speedy option and microwave it for 2 minutes (which makes them instantly “pickled”) then just cool them;
- Feta – like to include some kind of “treat” in my main course salads – whether it’s nuts, croutons, bacon, parmesan. Today, it’s feta – on theme!
- Dressing – red wine vinegar (loads of alternatives in the recipe), extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano (the Greek influence), and mustard (for thickening – we need it, to stick to the chickpeas better).
How to make this Chickpea Salad
I think this recipe sounds more involved than it actually is – and you can totally talk it up to your friends. “We’re having a marinated chickpea salad with wilted spinach and pickled red onion with an oregano infused Greek dressing”, you’ll loftily tell them.
But in reality, it’s actually a very low effort dish!
This salad also plates up quite nicely – rather than using a bowl like most salads, use a flat plate and pile it up high!
What to serve with chickpea salad
This is one of those salads that works as a main course or as a side dish.
As a main course, it’s a great dinner for hot summer nights, or lunch all year round. I like to serve it with crusty bread on the side, or with flatbreads that you can tear and use to scoop up the chickpeas.
It also travels extremely well, being one of those rare salads that keeps well for a few days. Think – work lunches, taking to picnics with friends.
As a side dish, with the exception of Asian dishes and Indian food, I can’t think of many things I wouldn’t serve it with. Fabulous alongside a roast chicken, lamb or roast pork. Garlic prawns, pan seared fish, a simple baked chicken breast or a sticky honey garlic chicken, pork chops or steak.
It’s a natural fit alongside anything Mediterranean, Italian or Middle Eastern, and the flavours are on theme with Mexican food.
Have I convinced you yet that it’s basically a great all rounder and that you must try it immediately??!
Watch how to make it
Chickpea Salad – with MARINATED Chickpeas!
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side.
- 800g/ 14oz (2 cans) chickpeas, well drained (Note 1)
Dressing / Marinade:
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (Note 2)
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove , minced using garlic press
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (or other non spicy smooth mustard)
- 3/4 tsp EACH salt and pepper
Quick pickled onion (pickling optional, Note 3):
- 1/2 red onion , finely sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (Note 2)
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 250g/ 8oz cherry or grape tomatoes , halved (or 2 normal tomatoes)
- 3 cups (packed) spinach, sliced 1/2 cm / 1/5″ thick (Note 4)
- 100g/ 3oz feta
- 3/4 cup chargrilled peppers , drained and sliced 1cm / 1/3″ thick (optional, Note 5)
Shake Dressing in a jar.
Place chickpeas in a microwaveable bowl. Toss with half the Dressing.
Microwave 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until warmed through.
Set aside 20 minutes to marinate (warm chickpeas = absorbs flavour).
Quick Pickled Onion:
Mix ingredients in a bowl, set aside 30 minutes until onion is wilted. Drain.
Speedy option: microwave for 2 minutes until hot, cool 10 minutes then use.
Place spinach in a big bowl, pour over chickpeas and all Dressing in bowl. Add tomatoes, pickled onion and peppers, if using.
Pour over remaining Dressing, toss. Transfer to serving bowl, crumble over feta, serve!
- STOVE: soak overnight in lots of water. Pick out anything that doesn’t look like chickpeas that floats to the surface. Place in a saucepan with 3 cups of water and simmer on medium for 40 – 50 minutes (depends on chickpea size) until they are very soft. Skim off any skin that floats to the surface. Drain, proceed with recipe.
- PRESSURE COOKER: No soaking required, cover with 3 cups of water and cook 45 minutes on high.
2. Other vinegars: lemon juice, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry or champagne vinegar. Normal white vinegar can also be used but add 1 tbsp extra olive oil.
3. Pickling is optional, I like it because it adds extra flavour, it flops nicely, it’s cinch to do and I love the colour. You could just use the unpickled onion, or even just a handful of finely sliced green onion.
4. Spinach – any similar leafy greens that can be sliced will work a treat here, like baby spinach, silverbeet, kale. Cabbage also works – but toss with a bit of dressing and let it wilt for 20 min before using (otherwise it’s a bit pokey and stiff!)
5. Chargrilled peppers – used in photos and it adds an extra element of deliciousness. Ran out for video! Delicious without.
6. STORAGE: Keeps great for 3 days in the fridge – great work lunch option. Also, it’s actually nice when the spinach wilts a bit so unlike most salads, it gets better the longer it’s sitting out, making it an ideal salad for buffets and long leisurely lunches with friends!
7. Nutrition per serving as a side dish (8 servings).
More chickpea recipes
More recipes using my favourite legume!
Life of Dozer
Nowhere to be seen while I filmed the chickpea salad….zero interest! Stark contrast to the intensive staring, heavy breathing and uncontrollable salivation when I’m shooting things like a big, fat, juicy prime rib…….
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