Moroccan chickpea salad is the best kind of salad. What’s not to like, really? Nutty chickpeas, fluffy couscous, bright fresh vegetables, cheese, nuts and a tangy, spiced dressing are all the good things in one bowl. Plus it keeps really well and you can prep all the ingredients ahead of time – the perfect lunchbox meal!
Making this salad is really just an assembly job. The dressing, a heady Moroccan-spiced affair (one which you probably have most of the spices for already), will keep for days if you make it ahead.
Use canned chickpeas or cook dried chickpeas in your steam oven. The couscous is cooked up to a couple of days ahead (also in your steam oven, if you like), and the rest of the ingredients can be chopped, crumbled and toasted ahead too. To assemble, toss everything together and serve!
What makes this a Moroccan salad?
Part of what makes this dish a Moroccan style chickpea salad rather than a regular chickpea salad is the use of steamed couscous, a Moroccan staple food.
Couscous bulks out the salad, giving it a carbohydrate component as well as the protein hit from the chickpeas. This also means you’ve got a really filling meat free meal.
The other Moroccan aspect to this salad is the dressing, which is packed with fragrant and earthy spices common to Moroccan food. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, white pepper, ginger and cinnamon all feature in the dressing. You can also add cayenne or chili powder if you want heat, although there’s plenty going on even without that.
Tips for the best chickpea salad
As I mentioned up top, you can really get ahead with a chickpea salad by preparing ahead.
This means cooking your chickpeas up to a few days ahead of time (or using canned), steaming couscous and preparing the dressing. This dressing actually tastes better if you let the flavours meld and settle. How handy.
When it comes to assembling the salad, mix the chickpeas, couscous and carrot with the dressing half an hour ahead of time. Everything will taste more balanced than if you serve immediately. It also gives those ingredients which are cold from the fridge time to come to room temperature. Repeat after me: fridge cold salad is bad salad.
Add the rest of your ingredients just before serving. I do this by layering them over the top of the chickpea mixture and drizzling with remaining dressing. Then, when someone takes a scoop of salad, they get a good amount of everything on the spoon. If you mix in the smaller ingredients like feta cheese, nuts and dates, they end up at the bottom of the bowl where only the last person will enjoy them!
If you want the salad for school or work lunches, layer it into a container or a jar. Pop chickpeas on the bottom, then carrot, then couscous. Put the arugula, parsley, nuts, cheese and dates on top, and put on a lid. Take a separate container of dressing. Prepared like this, the salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. When you’re ready to serve just tip it into a bowl and mix through the dressing.
How to make Moroccan chickpea salad
I always start a chickpea or couscous salad recipe by making the dressing, as it improves with some resting time.
Put the dressing ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and give it a good shake. Make this dressing up to 4 days ahead of time and keep in the fridge.
Onto the salad!
Gather your ingredients. Tip the chickpeas, couscous and carrots into a large bowl. Pour over roughly 2/3 of the dressing and then toss together to mix well. Set aside for about 30 minutes.
Get creative with the remaining ingredients. Scatter them artfully over the top, starting with the arugula and finishing with the smaller bits of pistachio, feta and dates (or, uh, just chuck ’em all on, it’ll look pretty anyway).
Drizzle over some extra dressing and be proud! You’ve just made a restaurant-quality meal people will love you for, and you probably had most of the ingredients already in your pantry.
Want to bulk it up but keep things healthy? How about a perfectly cooked steak or a juicy sous vide chicken breast to serve alongside? Or, make boiled eggs and halve them on top of the salad to keep things vegetarian.
So that’s it. A great way to make use of pantry staples like chickpeas and couscous and a delicious way to get lunches sorted for the week. I hope you’ll try this recipe for Moroccan chickpea salad very soon.
Happy steam oven cooking see you here again soon.
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
- 2 cans chickpeas 15 ounce cans, rinsed and drained, or home cooked chickpeas made from 1.5 cups dried chickpeas
- 2 cups grated carrot from about 3 large carrots
- 2 cups cooked couscous from 1 cup dried couscous
- 2 ounces arugula rocket 50g
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts toasted
- 3 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- 6 dates chopped
- 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
FOR THE DRESSING
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed from about 1 small lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus extra to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper use black pepper if you don’t have white
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- Put all the dressing ingredients into a jar with a screw-top lid. Put the lid on and shake well. Taste and add extra salt if necessary. What you want is a dressing that’s just a little too salty on its own, as the salad ingredients will balance that out in the finished dish.3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Place the chickpeas and carrots into a large serving bowl. Fluff the couscous with a fork and add to the bowl.2 cans chickpeas, 2 cups grated carrot, 2 cups cooked couscous
- Pour about two thirds of the dressing into the salad bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for about 30 minutes, so the dressing can mellow and blend with the salad ingredients.
- As you’re about to serve, scatter the arugula/rocket, pistachios, feta, dates and parsley over the top of the salad. Drizzle with extra dressing and serve.2 ounces arugula, 1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts, 3 ounces feta cheese, 6 dates, 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley