This chickpea salad with rice and corn is one of those chickpea recipes you’ll make on repeat. It’s vegan, healthy with a simple dressing and fresh Mediterranean taste
This Mediterranean chickpea salad is full of healthy ingredients and has a simple olive oil and lime (or lemon) dressing. It’s one of my favorite meals, not only because it’s delicious, but also because every time I eat it I feel like I’m doing something good for my body.
When chickpeas are combined with rice you get a meal with better quality protein content because you receive all the essential amino acids your body needs. Plus, the fiber of the chickpeas makes you feel full for a longer time, something that can help in weight loss.
That’s why chickpeas – also known as garbanzo beans – are a common ingredient in my weekly meal prep. There are times when I make a delicious, smoky, melt-in-your-mouth Moroccan chickpea stew and other times when I cook this Indian inspired chickpea coconut curry. But the easiest way of incorporating chickpeas in my Mediterranean diet weekly plan is to use them in salads.
This salad can be eaten warm or cold and it’s also very customizable (like all salad recipes) since you can add a cup of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, spinach or whatever else you have on hand. Adding extra herbs like cilantro, dill, tarragon or mint is not a bad idea either.
The dressing for this chickpea salad is nothing more than some good quality olive oil and freshly squeezed lime juice. It’s not even necessary to mix it like I write in the instructions, you can just pour everything over the salad bowl. And if you don’t have limes you can use lemons instead.
How to cook dried chickpeas
Every Greek or Mediterranean chickpea recipe I know uses dried chickpeas which are soaked in plenty of water overnight. Why? Because they taste so much better than the canned ones. Also, it’s a common fact that you have to treat them with some baking soda before you cook them. Baking soda softens their skin and allows them to cook faster and become softer.
If you want to use them in a chickpea salad you will cook them until soft but not mushy. If you want to use them in something like a stew, soup or curry, you will cook them some more until they melt in your mouth. From all the recipes I’ve tasted so far, this Greek traditional baked chickpeas recipe produces the most melt-in-your-mouth texture ever!
Why are my chickpeas hard?
Sometimes chickpeas can be hard to deal with. It seems that no matter how long you cook them, they’re not able to soften at all. The most likely reasons for why this happen are:
- They are old or their expiration date has passed
- They were not soaked in water for adequate time
- You didn’t use baking soda during soaking
- You added salt to the pot during cooking or the cooking water was too hard
- They just needed more cooking time
Are chickpeas good for weight loss?
Most recipes with chickpeas are not only healthy but they’re also a perfect way to lose weight. Chickpeas, like all legumes, are rich in fiber and plant-based protein. Studies have shown that people who eat chickpeas daily tend to consume fewer calories from high fat and low fiber foods (meaning they snack on unhealthy foods less often).
If you’re trying to lose weight, following a Mediterranean diet meal plan is probably a good idea. Other Mediterranean recipes with legumes are this Greek brown lentil soup and these baked giant beans (Gigandes Plaki).
What goes well with chickpeas?
As I said at the beginning of this post chickpeas are even healthier when combined with grains like rice or quinoa. Having this in mind you can create many chickpea salad recipes with quinoa, bulgur, corn, peppers, greens and other Mediterranean ingredients like olives and feta cheese.
Cooked chickpeas can also be tossed into pasta or added to many sandwiches with plain bread or pita.
If you prefer to serve this salad as a side then a serving of baked salmon, some roasted chicken or a broilled rainbow trout are ideal.
As for the dressing, a simple lemon and olive oil dressing always gets the job done. For when you want more variety, a lemon tahini and a balsamic vinegar dressing will also pair nicely.
Are dried chickpeas better than canned?
If you can find canned chickpeas without any additives and preservatives then the health value is almost the same. But even so, dried chickpeas have a much more better taste than the canned ones and that’s the reason why I prefer them when I’m making hummus and especially when making falafel – because you simply can’t make falafel with canned chickpeas.
Do I need to cook canned chickpeas?
Canned chickpeas are already cooked, so you just have to drain them and rinse them well. Rinsing with plenty of water will help reduce their “canned” taste. If you want, you can keep the liquid from the can which is called aquafaba, and use it in place of egg whites in many recipes, especially vegan.
If your canned chickpeas are not very tender and soft, cooking them for 20-30 minutes will help them reach the desired texture.
- 2 cups (400 grams) dried chickpeas
- 5 cups water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup (200 grams) black rice (you can also use brown rice, parboiled rice or long grain rice)
- 2 cups (300 grams) sweet corn (frozen)
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)
- 4-5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice or lemon juice
- the zest from 1 lime
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon sumac or sweet red pepper flakes
Soak the chickpeas from the previous day: Transfer the dried chickpeas in a large bowl filled with 5 cups water and the baking soda. Let them soak for 10-18 hours.
Cook the chickpeas: Rinse the chickpeas very well and transfer them to a pot. Fill with enough water to cover them by 2 inches and cook over high heat. As the water starts to get warm the chickpeas will foam. Remove the foam with a slotted spatula. When the water starts to boil reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes until the chickpeas are tender. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
Cook the rice: Bring a pot with plenty of water to a boil and cook the rice according to the time on the packadging. Pour it to a sieve, rinse with water and drain well.
Make the dressing: Transfer all the ingredients to a jar, close with the lid and shake well.
Transfer all of the ingredients for the salad to a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and the lime juice or the olive oil if needed.
Serve or chill in the fridge and serve it cold later.
- This recipe yields 5 servings of 601 calories if served as a main course or 8 servings of 375 calories if served as a side/salad.
- First zest and then juice the lime.It’s easier.
- I usually add the corn frozen to the salad. You can also add it to the pot with the rice two minutes before you take it off the heat.
- You can soak a big batch of chickpeas overnight, use the quantity you want and freeze the rest. It will save you from the process of soaking them the next time you want to use them.
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