Chickpea, Red Pepper, Basil, and Lemon Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

There cannot be a salad that is more nutritious. I have served it as a first course and as a main on a summer’s day. It is colorful with a variety of textures. Before being added to the lettuce and surrounded by the cucumbers, the salad keeps very well when covered and put in the refrigerator.


This good-to-eat seed (grain) that I often serve as a side dish or as a replacement for rice when I want a risotto but am short of time is a nutritional wonder.

To cook quinoa, use twice as much liquid as quinoa by volume (2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, for example). I usually add a little olive oil to the water. It can also be seasoned when cooked.

Bring the liquid to a boil. Add the quinoa. Stir and reduce the heat so that the quinoa bubbles. It will take from is to 20 minutes to cook, depending on the heat.

To cook 1 cup dried chickpeas:

Stovetop: Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Add to a medium saucepan with 6 to 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 to 1½ hours (older chickpeas take longer to cook). Drain.

Microwave: Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Add to a 2-quart soufflé dish with 4 cups water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain.

No-heat Method: Soak overnight in 6 to 7 cups water. Cook briefly. Makes 2½ cups cooked chickpeas.

Serves4 as a main course, 6 as a first course



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecrisp, herby, savory

Type of Dishfirst course salad, salad


  • One 19-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (see Notes)
  • 1 red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), seeded, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 radishes (1 ounce each), tipped, tailed, and cut across into thin slices (2 tablespoons)
  • ½ bunch basil (1 ounce), cut across into ¼-inch strips (¼ cup)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa—red is the hardest to find, but nicest in this (see Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup Basic Vinaigrette 
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce (about 5 ounces), with small, bright green leaves
  • 1 slim cucumber (4 to 5 ounces), cut across into 1/8-inch slices


  1. Combine the chickpeas, bell pepper, radishes, basil, quinoa, lemon zest, and vinaigrette in a medium bowl until well coated. Lay pieces of lettuce out in a shallow bowl or salad bowl in an even layer. Place the chickpea mixture in the center in a generous pile. Arrange cucumber slices on top of the lettuce in a ring around the chickpea salad.


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