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bowl of Moroccan chickpea salad

Hearty and Simple Moroccan Chickpea Salad

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. This hearty salad recipe is 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 Moroccan chickpea salad is really just an assembly job.

The dressing, a heady, earthy-spiced affair (one which you probably have most of the spices for already), will keep for days, so you can make that ahead of time. For the chickpea component, you can use canned chickpeas or cook dried chickpeas in your steam oven. The couscous is cooked up to a couple of days ahead, and the rest of the salad ingredients can be chopped, crumbled and toasted ahead of time too. To assemble, just toss everything together and serve!

What makes this a Moroccan chickpea salad vs a regular chickpea salad?

Part of what makes this dish a Moroccan style chickpea salad recipe, 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.

Moroccan chickpea salad with carrots and couscous

The other Moroccan aspect to this vegetarian 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 them.

Tips to make the best chickpea salad

 As I mentioned up top, you can really get ahead with a chickpea salad by preparing the different components well before it’s time to serve.

This means cooking your chickpeas up to a few days ahead of time (or using canned), steaming couscous and preparing the dressing. This salad dressing actually tastes better if you let the flavours meld and settle. How handy.

When it comes to assembling your Moroccan style salad, mix the chickpeas, couscous and carrot with the dressing half an hour ahead of time. Everything will taste more balanced if you give these ingredients time to meld together. It also gives ingredients which are cold from the fridge time to come to room temperature. Repeat after me: fridge cold salad is bad salad.

chickpeas, carrots and couscous in a bowl

Add the rest of your ingredients just before serving. I do this by layering each ingredient 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 to make this salad for school or work lunches, layer it into a container or a jar (see my chickpea chicken jar salad recipe for inspiration, jar salads are so pretty!. 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, your Moroccan 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.

Couscous and chickpea salad with a bowl of dates

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.

ingredients for Moroccan spiced dressing

jar of spiced Moroccan salad dressing

On to the salad!

Gather your ingredients. Tip the chickpeas, couscous and carrots into a large bowl. Pour over roughly two thirds of the dressing (no need to measure it) and toss together to mix well. Set aside for about 30 minutes.

ingredients for Moroccan chickpea salad

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).

a front-on view of Moroccan chickpea salad

Drizzle over some extra dressing and be proud! You’ve just made a restaurant-quality salad 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 love my Moroccan chickpea salad recipe as much as I do.

Happy steam oven cooking see you here again soon. 

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bowl of Moroccan chickpea salad
Print Recipe
4.78 from 9 votes

Moroccan Chickpea Salad

This Moroccan salad is packed with hearty chickpeas, couscous, dates and pistachio nuts, and dressed with an amazing spiced dressing.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: moroccan chickpea salad
Servings: 8
Calories: 179kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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

Notes

If you want the salad for school or work lunches, layer it into a container or a jar rather than making in a bowl. 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 5881IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg

5 thoughts on “Hearty and Simple Moroccan Chickpea Salad”

  1. 5 stars
    I also use orange juice as well as lemon juice in the dressing. Add some slices of peeled fresh orange in the salad. Use sultanas instead of dates. Have some toasted sourdough croutons on the side. Almost anything goes!

  2. 5 stars
    You’re right Emily, this salad dressing knocks it out of the park. Loved this hearty salad which was crunchy and fresh, with a spicy tang. Guests loved it on the spot, and the ample leftovers were good as new, days later, with a few added drops of your dressing. A bonus was what I learned. Not having couscous in the pantry, I substituted Acini di pepe pasta—the next size up from Moroccan couscous, but not as large as pearl couscous. I steamed a full tray in the steam oven and it cooked up into completely separate grains! Will make this salad again — and again!

  3. 5 stars
    You’re right Emily, the dressing for this salad is a knockout (although I omitted the cinnamon because to my taste, it seems to dominate in main dishes.) Guests loved it on the spot, it was a meal in itself, and leftovers were still yummy with a few added drops of your amazing dressing. A bonus was what I learned. Not having couscous in the house, I substituted acini di pepe pasta–the next size up from Moroccan couscous, but not as large as pearl couscous. I steamed a full tray in the steam oven and it cooked into perfectly separate grains. Will make this salad again — and again!

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