Cucumber and Chickpea Salad is refreshing, healthy, and packed with flavor and texture. It’s simple. Hearty protein-packed chickpeas are tossed with crunchy cucumber, smoky roasted red peppers, and red onions. It’s all tossed in a creamy red wine vinegar and tahini dressing with just a hint of smokiness from ground sumac. The perfect lunch or side for dinner.
Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
We’ve been on quite the chickpea kick around here. And while I know these days have us reaching for shelf-stable canned goods to prevent us from running to the grocery store too often, that’s not the sole reason I’ve had an affinity for the hearty legume lately.
Simply, it’s because I love them. I always have.
Love eating them straight from the can while standing in the kitchen and perusing the latest issue of Bon Apetit. I love them crispy and chewy right after baking in the oven. I love them in hummus. And I love them in curry.
If you’re also a fan of chickpeas, then out of all the aforementioned recipes, this Cucumber and Chickpea Salad is the one that really lets the chickpea shine.
This simple chickpea salad is of course, packed with chickpeas, but we also include an almost equal amount of crispy cucumber, red onion, and smoky roasted red peppers. If you have feta cheese on hand, that would be a no-brainer addition.
Even with good salad ingredients, a GREAT salad is only as good as its dressing, and this dressing is something you’re going to want to use on all of your salads from now until eternity.
Of course any tasty salad dressing starts with an acid. Here, in sticking with a Mediterranean theme, I use a combination of red wine vinegar and lemon juice. Tahini adds a nutty kick while also assisting in creating a thick consistency for the dressing. Also involved – a little bit of freshly grated garlic, olive oil, plenty of salt, and a little bit of ground sumac.
Once everything is tossed together it can be served right away, but it’s also one of those dishes that gets better with time, so if you can let it marinate for a few hours and up to a day, you’ll be better off.
Ingredients in Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
Chickpeas. You’ll need two 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained.
Cucumber. I like to use English cucumbers because they tend to have less seeds, but any cucumber will work just fine.
Roasted Red Peppers. I used to take the time to roast my own red peppers. I don’t do that anymore. The kind you can buy at the store in glass jars will work just fine. Just make sure to pat them dry before adding them to the cucumber and chickpea salad.
Red onion. I personally love the bite of raw onion in this salad, and red onion tends to be a bit sweeter, but if it’s not your thing, feel free to leave it out.
Red wine vinegar. Whenever I’m making any sort of Mediterranean-inspried salad or side, I always use red wine vinegar. It’s a classic component in a traditional Greek salad, so it’s always something I use in these instances. If you’re in a pinch, white wine vinegar would also work well.
Dijon mustard. Dijon adds the perfect amount of zip and tanginess to this cucumber and chickpea salad. If you don’t have dijon, you can use spicy mustard or hot and sweet mustard.
Tahini. I LOVE tahini. I’ve slathered it over chicken meatballs, use it in simple dressings, and even replace peanut butter with it in Asian noodles. If you’re not familiar, tahini is a sesame paste. It’s nutty, slightly bitter, and so good.
Lemon juice. Because tahini can be a little bit bitter, you need a little bit of lemon juice to balance it out. Plus it adds a nice complex acidic note in addition to the red wine vinegar.
Garlic. I like to grate my garlic so it is evenly distributed throughout the dressing and salad.
Olive oil. The olive oil adds a nice flavor, thins out the dressing, balances out the acid, and adds a nice richness to the cucumber and chickpea salad.
Salt and pepper. Always plenty of salt and pepper.
Sumac. Ok, so what is sumac? Sumac is a classic Middle Eastern spice I’d equate to paprika. It’s made from a sumac plant and has a floral, slightly smoky taste to it. It’s very subtle but adds a nice complexity to different sauces and dressing without being overpowering. It can be difficult to find in some supermarkets, so if you can’t find it, Amazon has a great version here. (See notes below on what to replace it with if you can’t find it.)
How to make Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
Chop the veggies. In a salad like this, I like to chop everything about the same size. To me, it just looks prettier, and it’s a lot easier to eat.
Make the dressing. Add the red wine vinegar, dijon, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, and salt to a medium bowl. Whisk together. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine everything. Add the chickpeas, cucumber, roasted red peppers, red onions, and cilantro to the dressing. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve!
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! In fact, cucumber and chickpea salad is almost better after it’s marinated for a day or so. Store in an airtight container. When you’re about 15 minutes from eating, pull it out and let the chill come off of it.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Add crumbled feta or chopped kalamata olives!
- Make sure to season the dressing with salt and pepper AND the finished cucumber and chickpea salad at the end. Layers of salt are key to great food!
- If you can’t find sumac, no big deal! Use a little bit of paprika and ground cumin instead.
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 1/2 tsp sumac
- 3/4 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2- 15 oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups diced cucumber
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Mixing bowl
- Add red wine vinegar, dijon, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, sumac, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and olive oil to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add chickpeas, roasted red peppers, red onion, cucumber, cilantro, and remaining salt to the dressing. Toss everything together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.