Crunchy Chickpea Salad

Crunchy Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

This BIG salad has wonderful flavors: Harissa crunchy chickpeas are the star but there are also peppers, spinach, feta, mint, and a savory sweet tahini dressing.

Welcome to the first of a 10 recipe series I’m making called BIG ASS SALADS! This Crunchy Chickpea Salad, seasoned with harissa spice and pan-roasted, is added to a mix of other crunchy veggies and drizzled with Tahini dressing!

This salad is big enough to be a perfectly fine meal on its own. It’s large, filling, and packed with interesting flavors. It also stores really well and makes for amazing lunches!

Let’s dig in!

What is a Big Ass Salad?

Okay. A big ass salad (I guess grammatically it should probably be big-ass salad) is a very specific kind of salad. It’s HUGE! It’s packed with different ingredients including greens and/or grains, loads of fresh vegetables, some sort of interesting homemade dressing, and a star of the show ingredient.

These salads are SO big that I have to use this huge wooden bowl to toss them all together. The photos are deceiving, but trust me. THEY ARE BIG.

The salad should be big enough that you need a huge bowl to make the salad and it will feed a crowd or a family for multiple meals.

A big ass salad is also the perfect lunch salad. It packs easily and is a great mid-day healthy lunch.

Big ass salads are also fun to say and when people ask you what you want for lunch, you can say A BIG ASS SALAD.

What is Harissa Spice?

Crunchy chickpeas are a common snack or salad topping but I find them to be a bit bland on their own so I like to toss them in harissa spice before cooking them.

Harissa spice is a mix of savory spices that can be slightly spicy but not overly spicy. It comes in dry spice rub form and also in a paste. I prefer the dry mix for recipes like this. If you can only find the paste though you can use it. Just whisk the paste with some olive oil to thin it out and then toss it with the dried chickpeas.

When using harissa spice, you do need to be careful and cook the chickpeas over a medium heat so the spice rub doesn’t burn.

How to make Crunchy Chickpeas

There are two ways to make these crunchy chickpeas once you toss them in the harissa spice after draining and drying them.

If you want to roast them, I would spread them out on a baking sheet and roast them for 15-20 minutes at 400˚F.

Personally, I like to just toss my chickpeas in a skillet over medium heat and let them saute for 5-6 minutes. They get kind of charred in spots this way and the skillet cooks faster than roasting and is easier to clean up in my opinion.

Crunchy Chickpeas in a skillet.

No matter which method you choose, make sure to let the chickpeas cool before adding them to the salad so they don’t wilt the greens.

How to make the Tahini dressing

For this 10-recipe Big Ass Salad series, I’ll be making interesting dressings for most of them and this tahini dressing was actually one of my favorites. It has a thin consistency but is flavorful enough to work with a variety of salads.

Tahini can be a really thick ingredient so after you whisk together everything you might need to thin it out further with some warm water.

Tahini Yogurt Dressing

If you have leftover Tahini dressing, it stores well in the fridge for a few weeks.

My Crunchy Chickpea Salad Recipe

Crunchy Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

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Serves 6-8
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Crunchy Chickpea Salad
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This huge bowl salad has so many great flavors: Harissa crunchy chickpeas are the star but there are also sweet peppers, spinach, onions, feta, fresh mint, and a savory sweet tahini dressing. It’s a BIG salad and feeds a crowd or makes great lunches!

Ingredients

Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Salad Basics:

2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and dried
1 tablespoon harissa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
6 small sweet peppers, sliced thin
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh mint, garnish

Instructions

For the dressing:

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth. The dressing should be relatively thin, but coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thick, you can thin it out with a drizzle of warm water. Taste the dressing and adjust with salt and pepper to your liking. It should be savory and sweet and tangy from the lemon and vinegar.

For the crispy chickpeas:

  1. Drain chickpeas and dry them well. Then toss dried chickpeas with olive oil, salt, pepper, and harissa spice. Add to a skillet over medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the chickpeas are browned in spots and crunchy. Remove chickpeas from heat and let cool.

Assembling the salad:

  1. In a large bowl, add the baby spinach, which I like to lightly chop. Top with cooled chickpeas, sliced red onion, sliced peppers, crumbled feta, and fresh mint. If you are serving the salad right away, drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. If you are storing for later, dress right before serving.

Salad will keep really well in the fridge for 4-5 days without the dressing. If it is dressed, it will keep for 2-3 days.

Nutrition Info

Crunchy Chickpea Salad

Adding extra protein to this chickpea salad

This salad is really filling and great for lunch. If you want to serve it for dinner, you could add some extra protein to it. A few good options would be crispy tofu, chili-rubbed steak, or even this citrus grilled chicken would be great as a topping option for this salad.

Storing the chickpea Salad for later

The wonderful part of the salads in this series is that they keep really well for the week so you can sneak them into many meals.

The best way to store this salad is to store it without the dressing. It’ll keep for 4-5 days without the dressing.

Once you dress it, it’ll still be okay for 2-3 days but the greens will start to get soggy from the dressing.

Crunchy Chickpea Salad

Here are some of my favorite other salad recipes!

I have a lot of wonderful salad recipes in the Macheesmo archives, none as big as these salads coming your way over the next few days.

But, I love this easy kale avocado salad for a quick summer side salad or these curried chickpea salad sandwiches for a fun lunch. This Fiesta Avocado Corn Salad also caught my eye from Dishing Out Health!

Be sure to stay tuned over the next TWO WEEKS for 10 wonderful BIG ASS SALADS. I think you’ll love them!

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