Middle Eastern Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Tangy Avocado Dressing

Last Saturday I pulled together a salad for a barbecue with bits and bites of ingredients I had on hand – and it turned out to be one of the best dishes I have enjoyed this year.

You’ve probably been in a similar situation before: committed to bringing a dish to a gathering yet totally uncomitted to going shopping for said dish. Having a well-stocked pantry and a garden that is starting to produce aids and abets the creative process. That was certainly the case for this Middle Eastern taco salad.

I started by listing the leftovers I had on hand: half an avocado, a bit of roast chicken, a quarter of a red onion, the end of a block of feta cheese. Lettuce and cucumber could be found in the garden, along with oodles of oregano and mint. Now I had a direction….Greece. But I wanted to go further East. I rummaged around and turned up a can of chickpeas, a bag of pita chips and whole cumin seed in the pantry. Now I was set to play.

Middle Eastern Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Tangy Avocado Dressing | Simple Bites #salad #recipe

If Middle Eastern taco salad sounds weird to you, I understand. It’s a bit of a leap, but it’s essentially everything I love to stuff into soft pita bread only in salad form. Over the summer I love to replace bread with lettuce whenever possible to lighten things up and this salad is kicking off that habit.

As far as the ‘taco’ part, well, this is my modern version of a traditional taco salad. Feta instead of cheddar, pita chips replacing tortilla chips, chickpeas in place of pinto beans. Trust me, it works. I was sitting next to one of the young cousins at our birthday barbecue celebration and she mused “This salad tastes like tacos”. So there you go. If the children are convinced, I’ve done my bit. (Three ladies also asked for the recipe, so it was a hit among the grown-ups too.)

At home I serve the salad build-your-own style, as my children are all about the toppings on the side. No tomato, extra cucumber, that sort of thing. As long as they are essentially eating salad for dinner, I’ll happily serve it up any which way. However, at the weekend family gathering, I tossed everything together in a enormous wooden bowl and garnished it with the feta and chickpeas. It was also glorious as one big mess. Your call.

This Middle Eastern Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Tangy Avocado Dressing is undoubtably our new favourite ‘dinner salad’; I’ll be trying it paired with lamb brochettes next. Perhaps for our upcoming Canada Day barbecue.

Tangy Avocado Dressing | Simple Bites #recipe #salad

Tangy Avocado Dressing
5.0 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 10
I adore yogourt-based dressings for summer as they pair so well with cucumber and new greens. This is my current darling and I make a fresh half-pint jar every week. The avocado works as a binder while lending a creaminess to the dressing.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup plain yogourt
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine in a blender ALL ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour in the olive oil and blend one more time until it is incorporated.
  3. Transfer the dressing to a half-pint jar, top with a lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Cumin Roasted Chickpeas | Simple Bites #recipe #snack
Cumin Roasted Chickpeas
5.0 from 2 reviews
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Serves/Yield: 1 cup
I can toss these back like popcorn or corn nuts; they certainly have an addictive quality. Now that I'm adding them to salads, too, I'm going to have to stock up on canned chickpeas.
Ingredients
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Spread chickpeas on a paper towel or tea towel to remove excess liquid.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, cumin and salt. Add chickpeas and toss to coast evenly.
  4. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy. Give the pan a little shake halfway through the roasting time to help ensure even browning.
  5. Remove from oven. Cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days

Middle Eastern Taco Salad with Roasted Chickpeas, Tangy Avocado Dressing | Simple Bites #salad #recipe
Middle Eastern Taco Salad
5.0 from 2 reviews
Print
Recipe type: Salad
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 10
Bring this to your next summer gathering and it will be the talk of the table, guaranteed. Like all salads, it can be adaptable to suit your tastes. Swap in roasted red peppers in place of the tomato or pine nuts instead of the chick peas. All is ask is that you only toss the salad just before serving to ensure the crunch of the pita chips.
Ingredients
  • 1 large head of leaf lettuce, washed
  • 2 baby cucumbers
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3-4 sprigs each, oregano and mint, chopped
  • 1 recipe Cumin Roasted Chickpeas (see above)
  • 1 recipe Tangy Avocado Dressing (see above)
  • 2 cups pita chips, slightly crushed
Instructions
  1. Tear lettuce into a very large salad bowl. Thinly slice the cucumbers and red onion; add them to the bowl.
  2. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the salad, along with the chicken. Sprinkle the feta cheese and the chopped herbs over the top.
  3. Toss the salad together with the roasted chickpeas and the Tangy Avocado Dressing.
  4. Immediately before serving, add the crushed pita chips and serve.

What is your go-to salad to bring along to a summer gathering?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. La Torontoise says:

    Love the combination of chickpeas and chicken! So happy to have this salad, possibly tonight: -)
    All the best.

  2. The Taco Salad looks to die for! Even though I lived in the Middle East for a few years that combination never occurred to me. Thanks! 😀

  3. This sounds delicious! And something I would love to try. Especially the dressing, which I think will go with any type of salad perfectly 🙂

    • It’s a multi-purpose dressing, Heather. I have half a jar in the fridge that I am saving for tomorrow’s lettuce cups with grilled salmon.

  4. This sounds INCREDIBLE and so fresh. I have all but 3 ingredients! Lucky for me, today is grocery store day. I’m also going to pin this for later, but I really want this for dinner now. 🙂
    Sarah M

  5. Leslie Ramey says:

    This sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try it.

  6. I love your triumph of resourcefulness with this salad!

    My go-salad is a simple cucumber and peanut salad with a tangy Asian dressing. An extra helping of it often tastes better to me than dessert! Plus it is perfect for someone who is as “uncommitted” to shopping as I am.

  7. I really really love this Aimee! And I love the photos too! I can already tell this is a recipe that is going to get a lot of play time on our summer menu.

  8. We use lots of chickpeas and I am trying to get away from using so many canned beans, so once a week I cook up a batch in my slow cooker and if I make a big batch I can then freeze them. I use something like the recipe below. They turn out really well and I feel better about not using so many canned beans.

    http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/how-to-cook-chickpeas-in-a-slow-cooker/

  9. I absolutely love these flavors and the thought of putting them all into a “taco salad” is so, so great! love this Aimee!

  10. Beautiful photos! Loving all the ingredients in this salad!

  11. Loving everything about this salad. The dressing, crunchy chickpeas……mmmmmm!

  12. I’ve been meaning to post a recipe on crispy chickpeas! I love the idea of adding them to a salad. We have some merguez sausages in the freezer and I think this salad would be a great pairing (sans the chicken).

  13. I love all the flavors in this taco salad

  14. L-O-V-E! My youngest has recently declared that “chee-chee” beans (as pronounced in Italian, which makes them seem way more awesome) are one of his new “foods my mouth likes,” so they are a go to item in our salad bars. Can’t wait to add this dressing for the adults to liven things up!

  15. love this, amy! such a great idea!!

  16. and you know I meant to type AIMEE. ugh. mwah! xo

  17. I love this so very much. Such a cool twist on a taco salad. I love the cumin roasted chickpeas too. I need to try those.

  18. Love the flavours in this tao salad!

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