Tomato Salad With Crispy Spiced Chickpeas

October  4, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Kate Buckens. Prop stylist: Gerri Williams.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2 for dinner; 4 as a side
Author Notes

Meet my new favorite salad for late summer days. The ripest tomatoes meet the crispiest chickpeas meet the jazziest mayo sauce. Juicy and crunchy, sweet and spicy, the combination of textures and flavors is special, especially when considering the effort-to-reward ratio. Even better, it’ll teach you a very fun, very delicious way to cook chickpeas—a method you can and should apply to other salads all year long.

The key to crispy chickpea bliss? Mayonnaise. I’ve long sung the praises of mayo marinades for grilled vegetables, chicken, and fish, but as it turns out, shellacking your chickpeas in mayo promotes a gorgeous crackly crust and imparts rich flavor. Which makes sense: Mayo is an emulsification of oil and eggs, so it binds better than oil alone and carries along more flavor in the process. To up the crispness factor even more, I found that first tossing the little orbs in cornstarch, then mayo, led to the most delicious, craggy crust—almost like miniature hush puppies that have been deep-fat fried. Fortunately, no big pots of hot oil are needed here—just a skillet over a medium flame.

A few notes: Here I’ve jazzed up the mayo with chile sauce, paprika, and lemon, but feel free to change up the spices and seasonings based on what you have on hand.

Want to double the chickpeas? Go for it! Toss them in double the cornstarch and mayo, and follow the instructions as written. Two cans-worth will fit in a 12-inch skillet.

Serve the salad on its own for a lighter lunch or dinner, or with crusty bread, grilled cheese, or lightly dressed greens for a more substantial meal. Or, pair it with any number of meat, fish, or vegetable dishes for a simple late summer spread. —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

It's the end of the long workday (or the start of an extra-long week) and we're hungry. Like, "can't-think-straight" hungry. Luckily, Food52 contributor EmilyC wants to do all the thinking for us. In Dinner's Ready, her twice-a-month column on weeknight wonders, Emily shares simple, flavor-packed recipes that'll have a good meal on the table in no time. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For spiced mayo:
  • 1/2 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chile sauce, or to taste, such as sambal oelek, harissa, or sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch salt
  • For chickpeas and tomatoes:
  • 14 ounces cooked chickpeas (from 1 can)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 to 3 large tomatoes (or a mix of large and cherry tomatoes)
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1 ounce aged cheddar, shaved
  • Chopped basil, dill, or cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, stir the mayonnaise, chile sauce, lemon juice, and paprika. Season with salt, then taste and adjust the chile sauce and lemon juice to your liking.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Dry well with a towel. In a medium bowl, toss the chickpeas in the cornstarch until evenly coated. Add 3 tablespoons of the mayo, then gently fold together until the chickpeas are evenly coated. Set aside the remaining mayo for serving.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the chickpeas and spread in an even, single layer. (The mayo will start to melt away, and you should hear the chickpeas gently sizzling in the spiced fat.) Cook, shaking the pan occasionally and reducing the heat if they’re starting to brown too quickly, for about 15 minutes, until the chickpeas are golden and crispy. (Don’t rush this step: You’re looking for the chickpeas to form a crunchy, crackly crust on all sides, with creamy and tender middles.) Season the warm chickpeas with a few big pinches of salt.
  4. Meanwhile, while the chickpeas are cooking, core and slice the tomatoes into ¼-inch rounds, then season with salt.
  5. Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter or among individual plates. Top with the chickpeas, cheddar, and herbs (if using). Drizzle or dollop the mayo over the top of the salad or serve it on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EmilyC
  • Nat Kuhn
    Nat Kuhn
  • Alex
  • SilverInBlood

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

9 Reviews

Nat K. August 24, 2022
This was an absolutely wonderful dinner for tomato season (even without the cheese). But even more than that, I will use the chickpea method all year long. I have made so many recipes for "crispy chickpea X" and "Y with crispy chickpeas" where the chickpeas never turned out to be crispy. Those days are over, which makes me very happy!
Alex September 14, 2021
Great recipe that impressed everyone......and so easy! Thank You!
EmilyC September 15, 2021
So glad! Thanks, Alex, for your note.
SilverInBlood August 28, 2021
As promised, this is lightning fast to prepare and has enormous flavor payoff! This is going to be my go-to chickpea prep method from now on. Great way to get through a garden bounty with style!
EmilyC August 29, 2021
Happy to hear that you enjoyed the salad and the chickpea method! (I'm not ready for summer to end, but I'm looking forward to trying the crispy chickpeas with fall vegetables...sweet potatoes, squash, etc.!) Thanks so much for your note!
Merry August 27, 2021
The minute I saw this, our leftovers scheduled for dinner tonight became lunch and this will be dinner. All ingredients on hand including some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from one of our favorite farmers. Can't wait to taste this one!
EmilyC August 27, 2021
So glad to hear this, and I hope you enjoyed it!! Thanks Merry!
Merry August 27, 2021
This was just as awesome as we hoped for - great flavors, textures and you are so right - this is the way chickpeas should be prepared. Thanks for a fabulous recipe we will enjoy again and again.
EmilyC August 28, 2021
Wonderful! Thanks Merry for trying this and circling back.