Pairing a classic homemade Italian salad dressing with simple staples such as chickpeas and broccoli makes for an easy side salad to serve with dinner. This chickpea avocado salad has the perfect balance of creamy textures, delicate leaves and roasted flavours.
Why You’ll Love Chickpea Avocado Salad
Like many of my salad recipes, they are often created out of a craving for something. In this case, I had a craving for chickpeas! My partner absolutely loves chickpeas, and he could quite happily add it with mixed beans and have it for lunch on its own.
Avocados were readily available, so adding that with the chickpeas only added to all the creamy textures of the salad.
I had a leftover broccoli head in my fridge, so I thought to roast it lightly for a charred finish and to try and create the best vegan broccoli salad. But in the end, the chickpeas stole the show!
I didn’t want to overpower this simple chickpea avocado salad with too heavy a dressing. I hadn’t had an Italian salad dressing for some time, so I whipped one up to bring out all the lovely flavours of the ingredients.
This salad is easy to make and fairly quick to whip up. I love the use of everyday pantry items, and it’s also great for the hip pocket!
What are Chickpeas?
Here is the boring answer: Chickpea is a legume of the plant family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The plant is grown for its nutritious seeds.
What Are Chickpeas Also Called?
The most common name chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans. They are one and the same thing.
Some other names include gram, Bengal gram and Egyptian pea.
Did you know that the Latin name for chickpeas, Cicer arietinum, means “small ram,” reflecting the unique shape of this legume that somewhat resembles a ram’s head? Again, always enjoy learning the etymology of words!
What Do Chickpeas Taste Like?
Chickpeas have a nutty flavour and have a creamy yet slightly grainy texture. If you like beans in general, it has the same consistency.
How to Buy Chickpeas
You can buy chickpeas in their dried form. These can be stored for up to a year.
To cook dried chickpeas, soak 1 cup of chickpeas in 3 cups of water. These need to be soaked for at least 8 hours, or to make it a simpler process, do it before bed so it soaks overnight and will be ready for you the next day.
Then place them in a slow cooker to cook them. Looking at 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat.
Most people would get this pantry staple in a canned form in the supermarket. Just drain and add to your dish. I buy my organic chickpeas in a vacuum-packed form, and oh my, they are simply delicious!
What Dish Uses Chickpeas the Most?
For those of you who may not know, hummus is made with chickpeas. I have to admit that I only found out after the fact. That’s because I didn’t eat hummus until I immigrated to Australia many moons ago!
Hummus is made of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, ground cumin, salt and water. They make a wonderful dip or a base dressing such as we did in our Salad of Dutch Carrots, Hummus and Soft-Boiled Eggs.
Flavour/Texture: This is quite a simple flavoured salad with most of the tastes coming from the homemade Italian dressing, which is punchy and bold yet light in the scheme of things.
The roasted broccoli is oven baked naturally without additional flavours. The nice charred flavours work well with the creamy, nutty chickpeas, soft avocado and mixed through nicely with some mixed leaves. The sugar snap peas give the salad the crunch it needs.
Ease: While there are a couple of cooking components, they are easy—a quick roast of the broccoli florets and blanch of the sugar snap peas.
Don’t let the long list of the dressing put you off. All you’re doing is adding it into a mixing bowl and giving it a good whisk.
Time: 25 minutes is all you need with a lot of work done during the roasting process. You can even make the salad dressing ahead of time to create less work when making the salad.
Here are the ingredients you will need for Chickpea Avocado Salad:
Broccoli: We just need a small broccoli head unless you want to have this as a meal, in which case get a large one. Cut them into medium sized florets so they don’t break down during the roasting process.
Sugar snap peas: Handpick bright green sugar snap peas that are not browning or look a little wrinkly. We want to add some crunch so they only get blanched for a small amount of time.
Chickpeas: Get a can of organic chickpeas for this recipe. Of course, if you have dried chickpeas in the pantry, you can definitely use them for this recipe. It will just add some considerable time to the cooking process.
Avocado: Looking for a ripe yet firm avocado so that when you slice it and fan it out a little, it will hold well and not be subjected to unnecessary squishing.
Mixed leaves: Any mixed leaves will work for this recipe. Just make sure they are nice and fresh. Always best to buy them in a loose form if possible rather than in the packet. That way you can undertake some quality control of the produce.
Red wine vinegar: Select a red wine vinegar of your choice to give the salad dressing recipe the tartness it needs.
Garlic and onion powder: Essential ingredients for an Italian dressing.
Dried oregano and dried basil: It can’t be an Italian dressing without these 2 quintessential dried herbs.
Salt and pepper: This dressing needs quite a bit of salt and pepper to lift the flavours.
Dijon mustard: Gives the dressing a little kick without overpowering the flavours.
Sugar: Helps to balance out the tartness and lack of sweetness. Just a little will do.
Variations and Substitutions
Broccoli substitute: You can use broccolini or cauliflower if that is your preference. They will both roast perfectly and will still give the salad that charred/smokey element.
What mixed leaves to use: Any mixed leaf combination would work for this salad. From mizuna to arugula to tatsoi, they will all be delicious.
What chickpeas to use: Vacuum packed or canned chickpeas work perfectly well for this recipe and is, of course, so much more convenient. Organic is preferred if possible.
Italian dressing alternative: You can use any basic vinaigrette for the recipe. I would recommend infusing a crushed garlic clove in the dressing for 30 minutes to give it some flavour. Discard the garlic before use.
Step by step instructions for how to make Chickpea Avocado Salad:
How to Roast Broccoli
Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
Cut the broccoli into small florets.
Coat with 1 ½ tsp of olive oil and season with salt to taste. Baste a sheet pan with ½ tsp of olive oil.
Add broccoli florets and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove and set aside to cool.
How to Prepare the Rest of the Salad
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Destring sugar snap peas and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove, run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and set aside.
Cut the avocado in half. Discard the stone and peel the skin. Cut one half into slices and the other half into wedges.
Drain the chickpeas and set aside to dry.
Wash the mixed leaves and pat dry, or use a salad spinner.
How to Make Italian Dressing
In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad dressing.
Mix until well combined.
How to Assemble the Salad
On a large serving platter, add the mixed leaves and spread them out.
Drizzle ¼ of the Italian dressing on top.
Add the blanched sugar snap peas, chickpeas and roasted broccoli around the platter—no real right or wrong way to do this. Just make sure there is an even spread of all ingredients around the platter.
Drizzle another ¼ of the Italian dressing. Place the rest in a jug or bowl to serve on the side. Just in case your guests might want more on their salad. It is pretty delicious!
Place the avocado on top.
Season with pepper to taste.
Great Mains for This Salad
Here are some great main recipes to try that would work really well with this Chickpea Avocado Salad:
For a full vegan meal, this vegan lasagna is a must try, Easy, healthy and no mock meats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Contrary to popular belief, Italian dressing was not invented in Italy. It is of American origin believed to have been created in the 1940s in Massachusetts.
Florence Hanna, daughter of Italian immigrants, owned a restaurant with her husband back in the day and created this ever so popular recipe.
Creamy Italian dressing uses the same ingredients as an Italian dressing with the addition of mayonnaise and sometimes grated parmesan cheese.
For the ingredients to emulsify, add it into a blender or shake/whisk vigorously. If you’re making it in advance, make sure to repeat this process as the ingredients will no doubt have separated.
The Italian dressing can be made a couple of days before and kept in a jar in the fridge until required.
The roasted broccoli will keep well for a couple of hours, but the avocado will brown if left out to oxidise. You can assemble all the components except the avocado. When it’s time to eat, slice up the avocado and drizzle the dressing on top.
Selecting the perfect avocado is not always a perfect science. Give the avocado a gentle press, and it should yield a little under pressure. You will know instantly if it’s not ripe as it’s hard as a rock or overripe as they are too soft and sometimes even mushy.
Do be gentle, though, as we don’t want to bruise the produce, which will make it difficult for sale later. Some grocers place a “ripe” sticker on the fruit, which definitely stops me from pressing all the avocados!
There is nothing complicated about this plant-based salad, from its easy to find ingredients to how it’s prepared. It’s simple yet so tasty, and the chickpeas provide some added heartiness to the salad.
We would happily have this chickepea avocado salad for lunch. Great for packing up to have on the go as well. Just make sure you have the Italian dressing packed separately in an airtight container or jar.
Chickpea Avocado Salad
- 1 broccoli, small
- 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 8 sugar snap peas
- 100 g chickpeas
- 1 avocado
- 60 g mixed leaves
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
- Cut the broccoli into small florets. Coat with 1 ½ tsp of olive oil and season with salt to taste. Baste a sheet pan with ½ tsp of olive oil. Add broccoli florets and put in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Destring sugar snap peas and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove, run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and set aside.
- Cut the avocado in half. Discard the stone and peel the skin. Cut one half into slices and the other half into wedges.
- Drain the chickpeas and set aside to dry.
- Wash the mixed leaves and pat dry, or use a salad spinner.
- In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad dressing.
- Mix until well combined.
- On a large serving platter, add the mixed leaves and spread them out.
- Drizzle ¼ of the Italian dressing on top.
- Add the blanched sugar snap peas, chickpeas and roasted broccoli around the platter.
- Drizzle another ¼ of the Italian dressing. Place the rest in a jug or bowl to serve on the side.
- Place the avocado on top.
- Season with pepper to taste.
- Instead of broccoli, you can also use broccolini or cauliflower.
- Any mixed leaf combination would work for this salad. From mizuna to arugula to tatsoi, they will all be delicious.
- Vacuum packed or canned chickpeas work perfectly well for this recipe and are, of course, so much more convenient.
- You can use any basic vinaigrette for the recipe. I would recommend infusing a crushed garlic clove in the dressing for 30 minutes to give it some flavour. Discard the garlic before use.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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