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 ½ 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!
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 6 to 7 servings 1x
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 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
- ½ green bell pepper, cored and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 ½ 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
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (use ones that have been preserved in jars with olive oil)
- ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup pitted green olives
- ½ cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
- ½ cup freshly chopped mint or basil leaves
- ¼ cup Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt and black pepper, a generous pinch to your taste
- 1 tsp ground sumac
- ½ tsp Aleppo pepper
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 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!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: Balela salad, Middle Eastern salad, healthy salad
More Recipes to Try:
Egyptian Vegan Stew with Peas and Carrots
Mediterranean Lentil and Pumpkin Soup
Mediterranean Chickpea and Eggplant Salad with Za'atar
This is fantastic. I used mint because I had it on hand. Will try with basil once it grows! Definitely making often this summer.
The amount of chickpeas seemed too much for my taste, so I used half the amount. It was a great salad. Thanks for sharing.
How do you choose the right olive oil for different dishes?
Hi, Kerry! You'll find that of our olive oils can be used for dressings, marinades, baking, frying, etc. The one you choose for a particular dish will depend on what you're personally going for, flavor-wise. Each olive oil has its own flavor profile. Some, like our Arbequinia California EVOO, are a bit more fruity or neutral-tasting, so they would be better for dessert baking (as you see in our olive oil cake recipe). Others, like our Early Harvest EVOO are a bit more robust or peppery, so they work better on more savory recipes. If you check out the olive oil section of our online shop, you'll find flavor descriptions of each, so that can help guide you a bit.
This. Was. Delicious! I made it for dinner tonight. Sadly, I didn’t have sumac or Aleppo on hand, but I added a generous spoonful of harissa and it was amazing. We put it in toasted pita and drizzled with tahini as suggested. It was just so good! I can’t wait to have leftovers tomorrow.
this salad is so delicious and refreshing. I made this last week and everyone asked for the recipe.
I made this salad a few days ago and it was so tasty!!! I will be making it again for a holiday party. Thank you for sharing!!!!
Our pleasure, Isa!
My friends and family EXPECT and request that i bring this dish. THIS recipe is a knockout every time! THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS AND ALL THE WORK YOU DO.
YAY! Love it!
This was fantastic! Even better than the Trader Joe’s balela salad. I skipped the jalapeño and parsley (simply because the jalapeño was optional and I forgot the parsley). I couldn’t find Aleppo pepper near me so I substituted 1.2 teaspoon of paprika and I made sure to include the 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper that was optional to make up for the missing subtle heat. Overall this recipe was a keeper and it is going to be in my regular lunch rotation now! I’m also going to save this recipe for whenever I have vegan guests over or for times I need to bring a salad or side to a potluck— thanks so much for putting this recipe together!
EDIT: 1/2 a teaspoon of paprika (not 1.2….)
Whatis the saturated fat content? And monosatyrated fat
The recipe does not say to slice, chop, dice etc. the olives nor the sun dried tomatoes, but the photo appears to show that they are chopped or sliced? Thank you.
Hi, Maria. Chopping these is optional. It depends on your personal preference and how large they are to begin with.
I make this all the time. Love it!
Do you seed the jalapeno?
Hi, Heather. Yes, I prefer to seed the jalapeno.
Delicious! My husband doesn’t like chickpeas, so I used black eyed peas. I substituted white balsamic vinegar as I had no white wine vinegar and an olive oil infused with basil as fresh basil out of season. Served it over bed of fresh spinach salad. What a great meal!!
Sounds wonderful, Lynda!
This looks good! Can I leave out the olives (i don’t like them) or will it be missing something? Thanks.
Hi, Theresa. You can omit them if you prefer.
This was the best salad I’ve found yet! I’ve been doing the Mediterranean diet for almost two months. I despise lettuce salads and this website has made things so much better!!
Thanks, Lori! Love hearing that!
I made this last night and it was easy and so very good!
I just made the salad. Yum!!!!
I was hoping you could give me advise with choosing olives from the grocery store. I am never sure what brand to use so I kind of stay away from them. Where I live we only have an Ingles to choose from. Do you have a recommendation for kalamata [pitted] and green olives for yout Balela salad. Thanks
Hi, Paula! The brand I tend to grab most often is Pearls olives, but it really does not really matter that much.
Suzy, I just love your recipes, including Balela Salad. I have one favor to ask, though - when you list nutrition per portion, would it be possible to actually say what the portion is? A cup? Two cups? what? for us on a diet Mediterranean plan, it is important to know. Thank you very much!!!
Hi, Vera! Thanks for the feedback, and I totally understand. Unfortunately, at the moment, we use a basic nutrition calculator that does not allow us to do that. It really just gives us a best estimate for each recipe's nutritional information. We are working to improve in this area, though!