There’s nothing less appealing at a summer barbecue than a table full of heavy, mayo-based salads. Don’t get me wrong, I love potato salad as much as the next Southerner. But the food sanitarian in me worries about those pasta salads and coleslaws coated in mayonnaise sitting in the heat and creeping close to the temperature danger zone.
That’s why I prefer to bring salads dressed with vinaigrette to outdoor affairs. But think outside the green salad box! I have the perfect side dish that is easy, light and won’t contribute to a case of food poisoning. Plus, it has my favorite legume: Chickpeas.
Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are a power player and always stocked in my pantry. These legumes are healthy, tasty and cheap. But most of all, they are versatile. They are hearty enough for soups and stews (even in the slow cooker) but light enough for salads. Chickpeas are a great source of fiber, protein and iron.
You can buy them dry, but you’ll have to soak then cook them. I typically just buy the canned variety and make sure they are thoroughly rinsed before use.
So, what can you do with chickpeas besides the obvious hummus and falafel?
- Substitute chickpeas for any bean in your favorite baked bean or bean salad recipe.
- Roast them in the oven for an easy party snack.
- For those on a gluten-free diet, chickpeas can stand in for wheat in some recipes, so you can bake with them.
- Use them as a substitute for meat in burgers.
Here’s the recipe that I adapted from a Weight Watchers version and is now one of my go-to summer party dishes.
Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Grilled Lemons
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup lentils, prepared according to package directions and cooled. They should be tender, but hold their shape.
1 small seedless cucumber, small dice
3 scallions, sliced thinly on a bias
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
Salt, to taste
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl and toss salad.
1 lemon thinly sliced and seeded
Brush lemon slices with a little oil and grill until lightly charred. Garnish salad with lemon slices. Note that the salad will absorb the vinaigrette’s flavor the longer it sits so make at least a few hours before serving. It’s great the next day for leftovers, too.
I recently made this dish for a party and one of the guests was excited to make it for his wife the next day. Here’s my friend Christian’s version. He omitted the grilled lemon garnish, and it still looks delicious!
Want even more ways to enjoy chickpeas? Check out our We Love Chickpeas Pinterest board.