Chickpea, Lemon and Mint Salad

Chickpea, lemon, mint salad recipe

I was reminded in Sicily how good freshly dried chickpeas can be. Usually, I cook whatever I can get my hands on, and add them to soups or make a batch of hummus. But I don’t sit around eating them, as they are, unadorned. So when someone asked me to taste a few from a batch of chickpeas dried by a local farm in Sicily, that had just been cooked, I found myself dipping a spoon (yes, a clean one each time…) back into the big bowl of chickpeas. And decided, when I get home, to give chickpeas a more prominent place on my plate.

Chickpea, lemon and mint salad

At the risk of sounding like the annoying dinner guest who has lived in Europe (which I’m sure I will be, at some point…if I’m not already), I dressed them with Sicilian olive oil and juice squeezed from lemons that I picked myself. The organic chickpeas are from the market in Gascony. I added hand-harvested French sea salt, and fresh mint that I get from the Arab fellow at my market, who lets me rifle through all the bunches at this stand to snag the best one.

Chickpea, lemon and mint salad

But while we all need things that we strive for, not everything is possible everywhere. So use the resources where you live to dig up ingredients without making yourself crazy. I do however insist that you search out good chickpeas; most dried ones last a year and the ones in the supermarket are pretty triste (sad) by the time you get them. Natural food stores are good places to look, as are specialty markets and farmers’ markets. You can also find excellent dried chickpeas online &mdash I give a few sources at the end of the post.

Chickpea, lemon and mint salad

This is a very simple salad, meant to highlight the flavor of chickpeas, not drown them in dressing and a bunch of other flavors and seasonings. The ones I had in Sicily were seasoned with nothing more than olive oil, mint, and lemon juice. They made a great lunch along with a few crisp radishes, some pecorino cheese chunks that came home with me, in my suitcase, and a few olives.

Chickpea, lemon, mint salad recipe 1

Chickpea, Lemon, and Mint Salad

4 servings, as a side course

This is a fine salad to serve as part of a meal along with other salads, so people can graze around, taking a bit of what they want, when they want. As mentioned, it’s pretty important to use good quality dried chickpeas; I’ve noted some sources below. Although we don’t get them in Paris, fresh green chickpeas are showing up at markets in the United States, and are available in other parts of the world, and it might be interesting to try this salad with them.

To cook dried chickpeas, rinse them and remove any stones or other debris. Put them in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, and cover with plenty of water. If you live in a place with hard water, you might want to add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the water, which aids in softening of the chickpeas. Cook at a gentle boil until the chickpeas are tender; it will take about 1 to 2 hours. Once cooked, remove from the heat and drain. Soaking the beans in water overnight will speed up the process, and dried chickpeas double in volume when cooked.

In certain parts of Italy, red pepper is a lot more common to use than black pepper. So if you want to add some of either, feel free to do so.

  • 3 cups (150g) drained, cooked chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • optional: red or freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the chickpeas in the olive oil, with the salt, mint, lemon zest and juice, and pepper, if using.

2. Taste, and adjust seasonings to you liking. Depending on the type of mint used, you might want to add more.

Serving and storage: The chickpeas should be served at room temperature. They can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

Related Links

Dried Chickpeas (Rancho Gordo)

Dried Garbanzo Beans (Phipps Country)

Artichoke Freekah Risotto

A visit to a hummus factory

58 comments

  • How can this not be amazing? All I ask is for a little more mint in mine please!

    • I made this at home, and used the mint I get at the market, which is rather strong. (Am not sure what kind it is, but it makes excellent mint tea.) But you can certainly adjust for taste and preference – and type of mint!

  • This is really delicious and light, as a snack too. I am from India and we make it often at home, try adding a little bit of finely chopped red onions or shallots. They add a great crunch and flavour

  • At a pie baking class at The Pantry at Delancey, we had a lunch while waiting for pie to bake; one course was chickpeas mixed with some pickled sweet peppers (from another class), olive oil, and a bit of Parmesan cheese (IIRC). It was light and delightful.

    This sounds lovely.

  • This looks sooooooo good! I love chickpeas and cook with them most weeks, although this week it’s going to be red beans as I want chilli beans for a recipe.

    You know what – your salad would be awesome on a bed of hummus!

  • Rancho Gordo has started carrying very fresh chickpeas. After soaking, they only took 20 minutes to cook.

  • How simple and beautiful. Will definitely try it. Perhaps with a sprinkling of feta cheese and some chilli flakes for a tasty lunch.

  • I have never thought about the quality of the dried chickpeas impacting their taste – such a simple idea that I have overlooked. I am going to have to seek out some of these higher quality chickpeas. This sounds so simple but delicious!

  • Just made this as a side dish for salmon. I made a big batch, so I could eat it throughout the week. It is excellent- a filling salad that tastes light and summery. Thanks for sharing, David!

  • We grow our own chickpeas and the flavour is vastly superior to store-bought. It’s also much easier to get the balance of ingredients right in my hummus as the chickpeas are so good.

  • Without a doubt…it looks good enough to eat!

    Gonna try it as soon as I run out of my Swanson frozen dinners (which are much improved from the old days – unlike myself)

  • This looks rustically delicious! I will be trying this one. Thanks David.

  • Call me a dumb American but couldn’t you get the same affect with canned chickpeas…….rinsed and prepared in the same salad concoction ….??? I know you are probably grimacing…

  • This looks lovely. Actually, this is one of my favorite ways of eating garbanzos. It’s a good, healthy dish.

  • Such a lovely combination of flavors!
    I buy chickpeas at the local health food store and they are always pretty good. I never realized that freshness was an issue with dried pulses until I made a chickpea salad at my parents’ – the salad that I had loved at home was mediocre there. It took me some time to figure out it was because the chickpeas were too old!

  • Any chance you could tell me where you got your wood covered fork? I’m hoping its part of a set. I’ve been searching for wood covered silverware for years, can’t find any in the States.

  • There’s something so satisfyingly meaty about chickpeas.

  • Have loved your blog for years. Chick peas from the bio store have been on my diet for a long time. I suggest soaking them in water overnight and keeping them an additional day or two -but not more- to sprout in a strainer (and watered twice a day). Much better in terms of nutrients and much faster to cook as well. A great alternative to mint is coriander.

  • Chickpeas are so much better if they’re “slightly” sprouted ( which dramatically increases their vitamin, protein and fiber content) and cooked overnight on low in a crockpot (with never any salt, which makes them tough).

  • I recently started cooking a big batch of garbanzos and freezing some in several different jars to have on hand for salads and hummus. Surprisingly, they hold their shape, don’t get mushy and still taste better than canned ones.

  • Try this with kala chana..the world’s most delicious black chickpea

  • How on earth did you know that I had just bought a bunch of radishes and a bunch of mint at the farmer’s market yesterday and a bag of organic lemons at the supermarket the night before? Psychic David! “All I need now is the girl…I mean, bag of dried chickpeas….”

  • This year, I’m growing mint just to season salads like this. My usual one is made with lentils and tomatoes, so thanks for reminding me that I love chick peas in all their incarnations!

  • Darn, guess this is out of the question for me, since I’m just fresh out of hand-harvested salt and no time today to go and harvest some more… Nevertheless… I guess I’ll just plod along with my grossly inferior ingredients and give this fabulous sounding salad a try anyway! P.S. You are not that annoying dinner guest, you’re that annoying person who HAND HARVESTS HIS SALT! (ha! really, I love reading your posts and I try lots of the recipes and love them, too!)

  • The organic dried chickpeas at Whole Foods are always fresh tasting. There is no comparison to canned, though I do use their organic canned chickpeas at times. I have never had to cook them very long, especially if they were soaked overnight. 2 hours ? Never.

    My Kroger has a 3color chick pea salad on their Murray’s Cheese bar that is fabulous. Has onions, peppers and a tangy creamy dressing.

    The high protein content of chick peas makes them as satisfying as meat for those who are vegan, vegetarian or nearly so.

    Great post.

  • ron shapley(NYC): I used to use canned chick peas until I tried dried chick peas, cooked. The difference in taste is not to be believed. Often, even after over a year of cooking dried chick peas, I have to restrain myself from eating most of each batch as soon as they are ready and before I’ve used them in whatever I cooked them for originally. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. Cooking dried beans is quite easy and only requires a little pre-planning. I recommend using a crock pot/slow cooker instead of the stove top, so there’s less effort/attention required from you. Just soak the beans overnight and then cook in the slow cooker on low. I like my beans on the soft side so I cook them 12 hours. You should test after 6 hours and see if that’s enough for you. Opinions differ about using the soaking water or draining the beans and using fresh water. I use the soaking water with chick peas but be aware that this is not a good idea with black beans, should you ever branch out. As to the beans themselves, I’ve been happily using the supermarket dried beans but now am intrigued about using possibly fresher beans if I can find and afford them.

  • What a nice change to the ordinary ‘go to’ chick pea recipe of making hummus. Its true though that making a dish with so few ingredients, making them count is important, using the best you can find. I once did a recipe with fresh new season peas, some whole shallots, garlic and pancetta all mingled together with good olive oil. It was so good, the humble pea suddenly went from a side dish to being the star of the show. I’m going to try this one David so thanks for sharing. All the best.

    • Thanks Alex! Now I have two amazing salads to try… And English pea season is just around the corner!

  • had a chuckle over NYC’s Ron…. I once (in preparing a buffet for 35 friends) bought a large can of chick peas and I threw it out last week because it was too old and after much hmm’ing and tztztz’ing (I NEVER throw food away, normally….) I came to the conclusion that I probably wouldn’t want put my reputation on stake with precooked (and never trial-tasted) ‘conserves’…. NOW I would really like to know from anybody if you did try the canned ones and what do you really, really, think of them?! Not even as emergency food?
    If I love anything better than your recipes, it must be the photos…. make me delirious with macro envy and sheer beauty. Thank you so much, David and readers with more ideas. I too add onions to mine, but not ‘n’importe quoi’, French echalottes if you please :) And although I don’t know WHAT sort of mint I have in my garden, it’s very strong and I use it sparingly – but oh so wonderful.

  • I’m sorry, you don’t just snack on chickpeas by themselves? :P

    I love the way this looks — very light and fresh, letting the chickpeas shine. My favorite recipe involves roasting freshly dried chickpeas (rehydrated, of course) with garam masala, a few other spices and olive oil. I’m happy to have another option for using them, though!

  • This dish is one for the recipe box. It sounds delish. I love chickpeas (we call it Channa) cooked, dried with a towel then fried crisp and tossed with salt and spices. Yum yum!!

  • For another twist, try adding pickled lemon. With a little bit of the pickle juice and some fresh lemon juice as well. Mint, yes, and/or parsley, coriander. And maybe some very thinly sliced red onion.

  • Stop Already!!! I’ve been looking at airline fares to Sicily ever since you started blogging about it. The herbs and the cheeses sound fantastic. An aromatherapy paradise.

  • Oh that glorious garbanzo bean! It is one of my most favorite beans, alongside the Peruvian Lima. I always have them on hand. During the winter I boil them with a touch of virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cumin and dried sage.

    I’m so sure this little recipe of yours is most glorious, but alas, today was oral surgery and I’m on a liquid diet for three months. No acidic foods allowed. Not to fear. I’ll jot this little gem down for safe keeping and one day give it a whirl. :)

  • David, I’m betting you haven’t heard this type of thing before: I just made your chickpea salad–I have loads of mint growing in my backyard. I’m taking the salad + some lovely olives, radishes, and asiago fresco to a work party to prepare a Zendo on an organic farm, for an upcoming meditation retreat. The chickpeas taste great, though I had to stop sampling them for fear of having none left to take with me tomorrow! Anyhow, it’s perfect picnic food. Thank you for mentioning all of the accompanying items. I think my fellow Zennies will appreciate my contribution to our lunchtime break.

  • The first time I tried “unadorned” (cooked) chickpeas was last May; and I have to admit, I could’ve eaten all of them right then and there without making the hummus which had been planned. Since then chickpea salad is always welcome with me!
    I noticed in the recipe that you didn’t call for soaking the chickpeas before cooking. My dad (my family’s “chickpea master”, if there is such a thing) always soaks them for a couple of days (changing the water every 8 hours or so) because he says it gets rid of a lot of the gases from the chickpeas; also, after being soaked, the chickpeas cook faster.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • I have mint on the brain lately–it seems to be popping up in so many recipes! Chickpeas are by far one of my favorite legumes, I’m always happy to see a new way for enjoying them, especially one as simple and easy as this salad.

  • We eat a variation of this a couple of times a week in the summer. I often add basil, tarragon, thyme or cilantro, crushed chile pepper flakes, toasted cumin and/or coriander seed, fresh garlic…many good options to adorn the marvelous chickpea! A popular mezze in the middle-east.

  • Such a simple yet elegant salad! We eat chickpeas at least once a week. Very popular snack/meal in South Asia.

  • I am throwing a lunch party for myself with this delicious salad, a beautiful pecorino sardo and, a glass of white wine. Simply delicious!

  • I love the photos! What kind of camera or lens do you use? The recipe of course is amazing as always.

  • If you use a pressure cooker, you can go from dried, unsoaked chickpeas to happily eating chickpeas in about 30-45 minutes. Yeah, it’s that fast. I make them constantly, especially since I got the cookbook, Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi.

  • I agree with Phyllis. Chickpeas cooked in the pressure cooker become meltingly tender in 35 minutes–no pre-soaking. My book Pressure Perfect tells all…Happy cooking!

  • Can I just live in your back pocket? I will hop out when it is time to eat. It all looks fabulous once again. Thank you.

  • Mmmmm. Can’t stop eating it! I soaked the chickpeas almost 24 hours with two changes of water. I cooked the chick peas in my Instant Pot DUO electric pressure cooker for 20 minutes, with 20 minutes to release pressure naturally – which yielded perfectly tender yet al dente chickpeas (I LOVE my Instant Pot DUO, which makes incredible beans – I’ll never, ever use canned beans again!). I kept half the chickpeas aside to make hummus later today (I add Ras el Hanout moroccan spice blend in my homemade humus – it’s delicious served with fresh carrot slices cut on the diagonal).

    I live in So California and have several citrus trees – my lime tree is covered with ripe limes that really need to be used up, so I substituted lime set and juice instead of lemon, with great results. I also just returned home after two weeks away, so I didn’t have any fresh mint, but Lebanese dried cut mint from the Mediterranean supermarket worked very well.

    Such a simple salad, but oh, so good. Thanks!

  • Looks nice, thanks for sharing!

  • Made this last night and added a little chopped garlic. Fabulous!

  • Summer lemon and mint flavors with my favorite chickpeas in a salad sounds very delicious.

  • Love the recipe. David, do you know of a Rancho Gordo-like place that will ship to France?

    • I don’t. I bring Rancho Gordo beans back to France when I travel to the US. You can buy good heirloom dried beans at many of the markets in the provinces in France, although they’re harder to come by in Paris. If you’re looking for chickpeas, you might find a mail-order source in France – try using the word “ancienne” as a search word, which might help you find a source for heirloom beans and chickpeas.

  • Greetings from Singapore! Made these today, and the girls (5 and 8) gave a unanimous thumbs-up for the salad!
    They especially like the mint!
    Thanks, David.

  • So simple but sounds yummy. The perfect appetizer or lazy lunch give or take a side salad of greens or some leftover roast chicken :)

  • I made this for a July 4th party – I loved it! I just used supermarket dried chickpeas. I soaked them overnight, and they were over-cooked with a 45 minute boil the next day – but still delicious. I used fresh sage instead of mint, and probably a little extra lemon juice.

    This one is a keeper!

  • I made this last Saturday as we had a salad meal with friends beforte WC Football match Holland-Costa Rica. It as very,very good. I will make another batch next week for a picnic en route to our holiday destination in France. It’s a keeper!

  • OMG Stop it!!
    All the years I thought you had to soak them for 24 hours first.

  • This is my go to salad when vacationing in Italy…my in-laws have a huge garden with almost every kind of herb as well as fresh lemons!!! I either make this as a fresh, light lunch, or my other fave dish; Spinach Tomato and Chickpea Stew!