Light, springy and refreshing, this Chickpea Pasta Salad is loaded with vegetables and pasta to make an incredible side dish or main meal. This pasta salad is unique because we're using a vegan tuna salad as a dressing for the pasta. We'll also add tomatoes and cucumbers for crunch!
A small scoop of tuna salad was my go-to lunch in my corporate world days. I'm not sure if my coworkers really appreciated it, but I found that dipping crunchy things, like celery, cucumbers, apples and radishes into cold, creamy salad helped with the mid-day slump.
We don't have any more slumps, because now we run a recipe website featuring all of the best bean recipes! So, instead of fish, let's make a vegan tuna salad that we can use so many ways.
This recipe is two recipes in one: a vegan chickpea tuna-style salad and a pasta salad recipe with chickpeas.
How to Make Chickpea Pasta Salad
Today, we're adding a scoop of mashed chickpea salad to a bowl with bowtie pasta. Then, we're adding sliced tomatoes and chopped cucumber for extra crunch. The best way to make chickpeas is my recipe for Instant Pot Chickpeas.
The chickpea salad portion of this recipe is essentially chickpeas mashed and treated much in the same way we would treat tuna. After being smashed lightly with a fork (some chunks are okay!), stir it together with mayo, lemon juice, capers and pickles. It is delicious when tossed with pasta to make a cold salad, as shown in these photos.
However, chickpea salad can be used so many other ways:
- Use it as a dip; serve with crunchy raw vegetables (carrots, celery sticks, etc.)
- Scoop it into mini bell peppers for a snack
- pile between two slices of whole wheat bread for a hearty sandwich
- add a big scoop to a slice of white bread, top with a slice of cheese and broil for a vegetarian tuna melt
- Pasta. You need 1 cup (or 4 ounces) of your favorite dried regular wheat pasta. This recipe does not use chickpea pasta; instead, it uses regular durum wheat pasta. I'm using tori-color bowtie pasta, but other good options are: penne, short cut rigatoni, or even large couscous.
- Chickpeas. Just one can, rinsed and drained. Or, you can use 1 ¾ cup of freshly cooked chickpeas.
- Tomatoes. Measure out one cup of cherry tomatoes, and THEN slice them in half for this chickpea pasta salad.
- Pickles. I like dill pickles here to mimic the taste of tuna salad, but cornichons, sweet pickles, kosher pickles or garlic-dills are also great.
- Capers. You can omit if you're not a fan, but I love them here!
- Mayonnaise. Regular mayonnaise, olive oil mayo, or even vegan mayo all works very well here!
- Lemon Juice. One lemon has between 2-3 tablespoons of juice. Start with 2 tablespoons, and add the additional tablespoon if it seems dry, or if you want more lemon zing.
- Garlic. One clove, as finely minced as possible to distribute the flavor evenly. I recommend smashed the clove and making a bit of a paste before chopping.
- Olive Oil.
- Salad Greens. Any type of salad mix or greens you prefer. Arugula, romaine, or mixed spring greens all taste great.
- Gather all ingredients for the chickpea pasta salad; it is helpful to chop all the vegetables first.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and then cook the pasta, according to the package directions. Drain, and then rinse with cold water before setting aside.
3. Using a fork, mash the chickpeas and minced garlic together in a small bowl. It's okay if some chunks remain; you don't want it perfectly smooth. Set aside.
4. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes, finely diced cucumber, diced pickles, capers, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl with the mashed chickpea mixture. Stir to combine very well. Give it a taste, and adjust for more salt or pepper, according to your preference.
5. This is the chickpea salad portion, which I sometimes use as a vegan tuna salad recipe. You can scoop this up with dippers, pile it between two slices or bread, or serve it any way you like on its. To make chickpea pasta salad, however, stir in the cooked pasta.
6. Let this mixture rest in the fridge for at least one hour, but up to overnight (tightly wrapped). Before serving, add 2 cups of salad greens of choice.
Chickpea Pasta Salad Recipe Adaptations:
- This recipe is vegetarian. To make it vegan, use vegan mayonnaise. I love the Vegenaise brand; it tastes like regular mayo!
- Use any type of pasta you like. Penne is great and so is large couscous. I use trim-color bowtie, because I love the way it looks.
- You can make this with white beans instead of chickpeas. Check out all of my white bean recipes here.
Other Light and Fresh Chickpea Recipes:
--Three Bean Salad with chickpeas, green beans, and kidney beans.
--Crispy roasted chickpeas for a crunchy snack full of protein.
--This hummus without tahini has an unexpected veggie bonus!
- 1 cup (125 grams/ 4 ounces) pasta of choice
- 1 15-oz can (400 g) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup (7 oz./ 200 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup (3.5 oz/ 100 g) small-diced cucumber (3.70 oz | 105 g)
- 2 small dill pickles, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups (5 oz/ 150 g) green salad mix
- Gather all ingredients. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, salt it and then add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions, drain and rinse before setting aside.
- In a bowl, add the chickpeas and garlic. Mash with a fork until chunky.
- Now add the sliced cherry tomatoes, finely diced cucumber, finely chopped pickles, capers, mayo, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl, and toss everything very well to combine. If you stop here, this is your vegan tuna salad.
- Stir in the cooked pasta gently, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight if tightly wrapped.
- Before serving, gently toss in the salad greens. Divide between bowls and serve.
Pasta: Tri-color bowtie pasta, penne, short cut rigatoni, or even large couscous all work here. Do not use chickpea pasta.
Chickpeas: Just one can or 1 ¾ cup of freshly cooked chickpeas.
Tomatoes: Measure one cup of cherry tomatoes before slicing in half.
Pickles: Dill pickles, cornichons, sweet pickles, kosher pickles or garlic-dills are all welcome here.
Capers: Can omit.
Mayonnaise: Regular mayo, olive oil mayo, or even vegan mayo.
Lemon Juice: Start with 2 tablespoons, and add the additional tablespoon if it seems dry, or if you want more lemon.
Garlic. One clove, as finely minced as possible to distribute the flavor evenly. I recommend smashed the clove and making a bit of a paste before chopping.
Salad Greens. Any type of salad mix or greens you prefer. Arugula, romaine, or mixed spring greens all taste great.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 534mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 10gSugar: 8gProtein: 11g