This Chickpea Salad Is Your Shoulder to Cry On

Four plates with different chickpea dishes

There’s countless possibilities for this herby, lively salad, and all you need to get started is a can of chickpeas. It’ll be your dinner for all the feels.

Night after night, after lugging a bag full of groceries/unused gym clothes/small animals up every step of your 7-floor walk-up, cleaning up your roommate’s gunk-covered Jenga tower of plates in the sink, and blasting Real Housewives reruns, you may ask yourself, well, “How did I get here?” Or, more importantly, “What’s for dinner?”

Remember that you have standards. You’re not going to reach for a PB&J or worse: a bowl of cereal for dinner. You’re an adult. And that means you’re going to transform a humble can of chickpeas into a tasty, no-fail dinner that you’ll actually crave, and better yet, is actually kind of good for you. Most importantly, you’re going to be a real-life grown-up eating a real-life dinner.

Cuisine based around canned food may sound like the work of a guy named Boyardee, but just to be clear, this ain’t a “pop the top and dig in” situation. This is a dish that’s about swallowing a simple salad without swallowing your pride. So yeah, you’ll need to do some dishes, but hey, that’s what being a grown-up is about.

chickpeas-can
ALEX LAU

From such humble beginnings…

The first thing you’re going to do is drain the liquid out of the can and rinse the chickpeas. You can save the aquafaba—AKA that liquid from the can—for making a fancy vegan mayo, but you won’t need it right now. After rinsing the liquid from the chickpeas, pat them dry with paper towels, and then they’re ready for a slurp-worthy dressing.

The dressing is key to making this chickpea salad feel more “Mediterranean cuisine” and less “can cuisine.” My go-to method starts with freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, ground cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and kosher salt in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Stream in olive oil gradually while whisking to combine all of the dressing’s ingredients. Add a handful of chopped herbs (I like flat-leaf parsley, mint, and dill) before mixing, tasting throughout to make sure this salad is bright tasting and lively.

A caveat about those herbs: they are not a garnish. They are as much of a part of the dish as the chickpeas, so use a heavy hand (or maybe two). Add the canned chickpeas to the herb dressing, stir, and taste, adding more olive oil, lemon juice, or salt as needed.

Much like the Real Housewives, there are many spin-offs to the canned chickpea salad, like an extra hit of acid from sherry vinegar, a quick dusting of ras el hanout or another spice mix with some crumbled feta, a punch of chile-rich heat from sambal olek (the best hot sacue, IMO), or a spoonful of thinned tahini for a nutty and bitter dressing. Newman wishes he could call this dressing his own. But it’s all mine; now it’s all yours.

Once finished, you’ve got plenty of options for serving this dressed chickpea salad, depending on your desired level of effort. You can put it on toast with a crispy egg (easy!). You can put it over yogurt with a bit of grated garlic and salt stirred in (even easier!). You can put it over sautéed greens (green!). You can do all three at the same time if you’re indecisive (or just want to get SWOLE from three protein sources).

It’s what I make when it’s time to pay the bills. It’s what I make when I have 20 minutes to put on an acceptable pair of big boy pants, call a car, catch up on Tweets I missed, and eat dinner somewhere in between. It’s what I make when I invite a friend over for dinner and realize whoops, I don’t really have anything to offer (or do I?). It’s what I make when I feel like making something without actually making a big deal.

It’s my dinner for all the feels. And it never, ever fails.

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