What exactly is a chickpea, anyway?
This thought usually crosses my mind at some point whenever I encounter chickpeas. So before we dive into this Simple Chickpea Salad recipe, I thought it might help to get some background.
When you think about it, chickpeas are a pretty unique food, as far as canned goods go. Not a vegetable, not a grain, and certainly neither chick nor pea, it can be hard to define what exactly a chickpea is.
Now, please don’t read my confusion as criticism. I absolutely love chickpeas, in all their forms. Give them to me in a salad, mashed into hummus, or ground into falafel. I show up for chickpeas all day long. They’ve got a one of a kind texture and a subtle earthy flavor that makes them a versatile complement to all kinds of meals and snacks.
That said, my love for chickpeas alone has never really satisfied my curiosity about what exactly they are. If anything, it’s only discouraged me from finding out. I usually just figure I like them enough that it doesn’t really matter what they are.
Today, for your benefit and my own, I have done some laborious Googling to finally shed light on this mystery. (Drumroll please…)
Turns out, chickpeas are a legume. If that information isn’t helpful, some other notable legumes include:
- Peas (So I guess the “pea” part of chickpea isn’t totally misleading after all.)
- Peanuts (“Did you know that peanuts aren’t nuts?” is always a quality fun fact to have up your sleeve.)
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas have been around since at least the Neolithic period. We may associate them most closely with Middle Eastern cuisine like hummus and falafel, but chickpeas feature in dishes across cultures and have become increasingly popular in America since the twentieth century.
So there you have it, a brief history of the chickpea. These tasty little legumes are also nutrient-dense, containing high amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because of their versatility and protein content, chickpeas can be a great addition to a vegetarian diet.
For this Simple Chickpea Salad, we’re using just seven ingredients and one bowl for a tasty and nutritious dish. Onion and tomato complement the chickpea base, while basil and balsamic vinegar add a rich but fresh taste.
This salad is light and refreshing, but so nutrient dense you could enjoy it as a meal on its own. Meanwhile, it is so easy to make, no cooking necessary and just twenty minutes standing time, it makes a perfect last minute side or potluck dish.
However you choose to enjoy them, chickpeas are a nutritious and flavorful addition to your diet. If you like this Simple Chickpea Salad, check out some of our other favorite ways to enjoy this versatile ingredient, including:
- Honey Roasted Chickpeas (Perfect for a snack or salad topper)
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Chickpeas
- Slow Cooker Turkey and Chickpea Chili
- And, of course, our 6 Scrumptious Hummus Recipes
Yields: 6 servings | Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Calories: 144 | Total Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 330mg | Carbohydrates: 22g | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Protein: 6g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 5
- 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinced
- 1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
- 6 large tomatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch thick wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon dark balsamic vinegar
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well ensuring all ingredients are coating in the oil and vinegar. Let rest, covered, in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Toss before serving and enjoy!