Adding to my short list of favorite nutrition-packed power salads: Balela Salad! And how fresh and festive too?!
This recipe is brought to you in partnership with USA Pulses and Pulse Canada!
Let’s start with a simple definition. In Arabic, the word “balela” means “cooked chickpeas.” Balela salad is an ancient Middle Eastern chickpea salad. It is simple, wholesome, bright, and flavor-packed. A winner on all fronts!
There are many variations of balela salad, but this recipe is closer to what you’d find in the restaurants and food joints of Alexandria, Egypt.
Balela Salad My Way
The gist: cooked chickpeas, chopped veggies, copious amounts of fresh herbs, and Mediterranean favorites like olives and sun-dried tomatoes. A zesty salad dressing with garlic and sumac brings everything together.
Tip: to allow the flavors to meld, make the balela salad ahead of time, at least a half hour before serving!
Turn your balela salad into a meal!
Clearly this beautiful and festive salad can be served as part of a special dinner. But with nourishing and satisfying chickpeas, being the star ingredient in balela salad, it can really stand alone as a meal. You can also serve it in warm pita pockets with a drizzle of tahini, or add it to an impressive vegetarian mezze platter with baba ganoush and roasted red pepper hummus.
Have you heard about the 1/2 Cup Habit?
I get excited when I see balela salad at my local deli. Good on them! It’s one brilliant way to pack lean protein and plant-based nutrition into your diet! And if there were a list of textbook-Mediterranean-diet-recipes, Balela salad would make the top!
As you know, one of the powerful secrets of the Mediterranean diet is in nutrition-filled pulses, like dry chickpeas; lentils; peas; and beans. Pulses pack a lot of protein, and they are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber and B vitamins!
If you don’t already eat a good portion of pulses, a simple goal would be to add to your diet just ½ cup of pulses three times per week (a total of 1 ½ cups of pulses per week, which is what USDA recommends). This is what USA Pulses and Pulse Canada call the Half-Cup Habit! Check it out here. And, I’ve included some more of my favorite recipes below!
This festive and wholesome Balela Salad is a Middle Eastern favorite! Filled with tons of nutrition from chickpeas and chopped veggies. And packs lots of flavor from fresh herbs, a zesty dressing, and Mediterranean favorites like olives and sun-dried tomatoes. A must-try!
- 3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
- 1/2 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), slice in halves if you like, or leave whole
- 3-5 green onions, both white and green parts, chopped
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (use ones that have been preserved in jars with olive oil)
- 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup pitted green olives
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped mint or basil leaves
- In a large bowl, mix together the salad ingredients: chickpeas, vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and fresh herbs.
- In a separate smaller bowl or jar, mix together the dressing ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and spices.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix gentle to coat. Leave aside for 30 minutes before serving, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, give the salad a quick mix and taste to adjust seasoning if at all needed. Enjoy!
- Turn your babela into a meal! This wholesome, nutrition-packed salad can easily be turned into a meal. Serve it in warm pita pockets with a drizzle of tahini. Or add it to an impressive vegetarian mezze platter with baba ganoush and roasted red pepper hummus.
- Recommended for this recipe: Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives). And from our all-natural spice collection: Sumac and Aleppo Pepper.
- SAVE! Try our olive oil bundle or the Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle! Or create your own 6-pack of spices!
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