Balela salad is an all-time favorite nutrition-packed power salad. It's fresh, satisfying, and totally festive. This is not your basic chickpea salad recipe!
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.
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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 Half 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!
Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Mediterranean Diet Recipes
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For the Salad
- 3 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- ½ green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 ½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved if you’d like (or you can leave them whole)
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 3-5 green onions, chopped (both white and green parts)
- ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup pitted green olives
- ½ cup chopped parsley leaves
- ½ cup chopped mint or basil leaves
- Mix the salad. In a large bowl, mix the chickpeas, bell pepper, jalapeno (if using), tomatoes, green onion, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and herbs.
- Make the dressing. In a separate bowl or jar, add the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, sumac, Aleppo pepper, and red pepper (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine.
- Dress. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix gently to coat. Ideally, leave aside for 30 minutes before serving, or cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
- 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.
- Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.
*This post has recently been updated with new information for readers’ benefit.