I created this creamy chickpea salad on a hot day, wanting something crunchy, cool and refreshing to accompany my otherwise-grilled dinner. It tasted delicious then, and has made repeat appearances several times this summer. I don’t use chickpeas often enough in salads, but love to find them included– our grocery store makes a wonderful tabbouleh-style salad with chickpeas added, and it’s always just what I want for lunch on a hot day. When I gathered the ingredients for my chickpea salad, I was thinking about that deli option I enjoy so much, and also a cucumber salad with dill and paprika I get from a local Russian dumpling house. I took elements of each and ended up here.
Although you can soak and cook your own chickpeas, I prefer the uniformity of canned in this salad. Sometimes my home-cooked garbanzos get a little soft and lose their shape. There’s nothing wrong with that… but using canned beans takes some of the guesswork out of what the final dish will look like. For the cucumbers, use whatever is plentiful in the garden: salad cukes, English, Persian, Kirby, lemon, etc. Any crunchy cucumber will do! I thought about using yogurt for the sauce, and I think you could absolutely sub it in, but I love the tang and smoother consistency of sour cream, especially with crisp cucumbers and dill. Finally, a note about piment d’espelette, a chile powder from the Basque region of southern France. It can be hard to find, and somewhat expensive, but if you have some, it is so good in this salad. The slight heat and subtle smokiness are perfect against the creamy, crunchy backdrop of the other ingredients. If you don’t have any, I think smoked paprika would work just as well, and 1/4 tsp. would be plenty. The spice is intended to be a garnish more than a main ingredient.
As we settle into the quiet, insistent heat of mid-August, having eaten many potato salads, much macaroni salad and all the corn, it’s nice to have a change-of-pace choice to try. In 10 mins. flat, you can have this bright, fresh chickpea salad on the table for dinner. It goes with just about anything or is substantial alone; it’s pretty, quick, and delicious. What more could you want?
Creamy Chickpea Salad with Dill & Cucumber
- 1 1/2 c. cucumbers, seeded, salted and drained (from about 2 large salad cukes, 1 English, or 4-5 Kirby)
- 1 14 oz. can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 1/4 c. sliced scallions
- 1/4 c. sour cream
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 3 T. fresh dill, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. piment d’espelette
- kosher salt, to taste
- feta to garnish (optional)
Start by preparing the cucumbers. Peel them or don’t depending on your preference and the type of cucumber you’re using. Cut each cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Cut out the seeds, if your variety has big, soft, watery seed centers. For Persian or English, you might not have as many to worry about. Cut each length into half-moons and place in a colander. Sprinkle with kosher salt, about 1/2 tsp. Shake to distribute and let the cucumbers sit while you prepare the rest of the salad, over a paper towel or in the sink, as they will lose some moisture. The purpose of this step is to prevent excess moisture from diluting your pretty salad.
Make the dressing by whisking together sour cream, lemon juice, fresh dill and a few cracks of fresh black pepper.
To a large bowl, add the drained and rinsed chickpeas. Rinse the cucumbers and pat them dry with a paper towel or cotton towel; add them to the chickpeas. Add in the scallions; toss everything together. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with piment d’espelette and a pinch more kosher salt, if necessary. Serve immediately. Some crumbled feta is a decadent addition to this salad, if you like. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for 2-3 days.