Chickpea Salad: The Fast, Filling Answer to "What's for Dinner?"

January  3, 2017

It’s January. (You know this.) You’re being bombarded with advertisements for gym memberships, fitness equipment, and everything else that “new year, new you” can reasonably be applied to (and things that it can’t).

All you really want is a quick weeknight meal that feels hearty and wholesome, healthful enough for you to feel good eating it, yet not so obnoxiously healthy you start to question the longevity of any overly ambitious New Year’s goals.

This is where chickpeas come in and save the day tonight’s dinner in Chickpea “Tuna” Salad from Senior Staff Writer Sarah Jampel. It is not tuna salad, but slightly smashed chickpeas make a surprisingly good stand-in, morphing into a sandwich-ready salad that’s filling and fast.Dinner can be on the table less than 20 minutes after you start cooking.

Duck out to the nearest grocery store and pick up the following, which we've organized by area of the market:

  • Scallions
  • Celery
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 small red onion
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Sprouts
  • Capers
  • Nori
  • Rye bread
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (on second thought, better make it 2 cans, you’re going to want to make this again soon)

We’re assuming you have tahini, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and either Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, or vegan mayonnaise on hand. If not, add them to the list, too!

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About 20 minutes before dinner, drain and rinse the chickpeas, crumble 1/4 sheet of nori, then grab a knife and start chopping. Roughly chop 2 scallions, 2 ribs celery (leaves included), the jalapeño, and 1/4 cup red onion. You’ve just begun, yet you’re almost done!

Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor just until roughly chopped—not so much you start heading to Hummus Town. Add in the nori, chopped vegetables, 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 to 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt or creamy thing of choice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of capers with liquid, 1 pinch smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste and pulse to combine. Serve on rye bread on top of a leaf of lettuce; top with sliced avocado and sprouts.

If you're anything like me, after making it once, chickpea salad is sure to earn a spot in your regular rotation, so next time play around with the recipe. If you want to nudge it closer towards tuna salad, add dill, or try Sarah's suggestion to send it towards chicken salad-territory with walnuts, dried cranberries, and chopped apple. I like mine bright and briny with lemon juice and dill pickle.

Get the full recipe here.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Nancy Duggan
    Nancy Duggan
  • Jen
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Nancy D. January 3, 2017
As Jen writes, this is a hella ingredient overload.
Jen January 3, 2017
15+ ingredients?? why make something so simple, so complicated? the chic peas are pretty tasty mashed w a fork along with a little mayo, chopped onion and celery.
Sarah J. January 3, 2017
A lot of them are optional and many of them I keep in my pantry, but yes, chickpeas (obviously) taste good with fewer ingredients, too! The add-ins steer it more towards chickpea "tuna salad" and away from simply mashed chickpeas.