In my mind, this warm smashed chickpea salad is like a rustic cousin of hummus. Its chunky, slightly creamy texture makes a perfect bed for anything grilled, from steak to tofu skewers. It’s also a great addition to wraps or sandwiches–try stuffing it in pita with feta and roasted red peppers. I also highly recommend piling it on toast and topping it with a poached egg for a protein-packed breakfast.
This smashed chickpea salad is so flavorful it could be a meal in itself.
Actually, I’ve been known to do that…maybe served topped with an egg, or maybe just eaten from a bowl like bean cereal. The texture is incredibly satisfying, hinting at creamy, but still with a lovely chickpea toothsomeness.
The flavors, though, are what really make this salad so easy to eat. The lemon-miso combination is light and bright, with a welcome base note of umami nuttiness from the miso. Folding in lightly crushed whole spices is what really gives this salad its character. Cumin and fennel are such a lovely combination, and the texture of the lightly crushed whole spices is perfect, too. You get occasional bursts of flavor and crunch, which makes each bite a little bit different than the last.
It's a salad! It's for sandwiches! It's a dip!
I think the best thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it’s just plain yummy) is how amazingly versatile it is. Unlike the standard whole bean salads that you might take to a picnic or cookout (like this super satisfying white bean and avocado salad), the texture of this dish hovers between a dip and a salad. That means you can put it on or in more things without it rolling off!
Does that sound like a silly thing to be excited about? Here’s what the “low-roll” factor means to me:
It’s a great addition to fancy toast game.
Think British beans on toast, but better. The texture of this salad is already perfect for piling onto bread, and it makes a fabulous foundation for charcuterie, tinned fish, avocado, crumbled feta… The list goes on! It also makes a great appetizer when spooned onto crostini or served with sturdy pita chips for scooping.
Warm smashed chickpeas are a fantastic base for a sandwich.
Because this salad isn’t mashed to complete smoothness, there’s still a satisfying amount of tooth to some of the beans. The miso dressing mixes with the smashed beans to add a creaminess that acts as a light binder, but the chubby bits of chickpea keep it interesting. If you want a new way to build meat-free sandwiches, this gives you savory flavor and toothsome texture all in one scoop. The lightly smashed chickpeas hold the whole beans together, so your sandwich is structurally sound. (Even if you’re not trying to be meat-free, this makes a great base for bacon or even leftover thanksgiving turkey!)
Smashed chickpeas are an excellent canvas for improvisation. Make the salad of your dreams!
I love recipes that are easy to tweak. You may find yourself wanting a smashed chickpea salad, but with different flavors than the ones here. In this recipe, it’s easy to keep the smashed chickpea base and swap out the aromatics to give the salad a totally different character.
Instead of parsley, you might try cilantro, chives, dill, mint, or tarragon. Any soft herb works here. Play with combinations, too!
Instead of cumin and fennel, you might try caraway and double the amount of mustard seeds (this, with dill, would be a fabulous base for a simple baked or grilled salmon!). Or, you might want extra fennel and swap in coarsely ground black pepper for the cumin. Pair that with torn fresh basil for a slightly Italian-ized salad. (This would also be fabulous in a sandwich with fresh mozzarella and arugula!)
Notes for Success:
Make sure to drain and rinse your chickpeas well. Residual moisture clinging to the beans won’t ruin your dish, but it will make it stickier.
If you like the flavors of this salad, but really want a creamier dip, simply mash all the chickpeas in the first step. You can mash them more finely, too, instead of doing a coarse mash. Finish off the recipe as-written for a smoother, more scoopable texture that still more fun than a basic bean puree.
I’ve listed the mustard seeds as optional in the ingredients list. They add a nice extra pop of texture and a hint of spice that marries will with the chili flakes. However, they are subtle. So if you don’t happen to have any whole mustard seeds, just leave them out. The salad won’t suffer.
And speaking of chili flakes, try to use milder flakes like gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) or silk chilies (aka Aleppo chilies). Not only are these chilies inherently gentler than the varieties found in standard jars of chili flakes, those generic “chili flakes” also tend to include a large quantities of seeds. Since that’s where most of the heat is found, regardless of varietal, those already spicy chili flakes are made even more fiery!
Warm Smashed Chickpea Salad with Miso-Lemon Dressing
- One 15½-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (Plus more to serve)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon juice
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- ¼ teaspoon mild chili flakes, such as gochugaru or silk chilies (See Notes)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds, lightly crushed (Optional)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- Step 1In a medium bowl, roughly mash ⅔ of the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher. Mix in the remaining whole chickpeas. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, miso, and chili flakes. Set aside.
- Step 2In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the cumin, fennel, and mustard seed, and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring once or twice, until most of the mixture has turned a light golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the scallions. Remove from heat and fold in the lemon-miso mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then fold in the parsley. Drizzle with more olive oil just before serving.
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This has been a sleeper hit at home. I made it for myself, to take to work with me over the course of a few days, but my roommate and I ended up just eating the first batch for dinner that night with crackers. I’ve now made it for lunches several times, and to bring to a few beach picnics with friends!
Thank you for letting me know, Peter! I love hearing people’s feedback, and I’m particularly happy that this recipe has ended up becoming a go-to for you! Definitely feel free to tag me in any posts on social–I’d love to see it!