Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad

by Heather on May 26, 2011

When Nate and I met for the first time I smelled like a burrito.

Although I’m not proud to admit it, I will say it was because I was dragged to a party with one of my best friends after working an open-to-close shift at a local burrito restaurant in college.  I was tired.  I was cranky.  I was very very smelly.  And I met the man of my dreams and he stuck around.

Dreams do come true!

One of the things that I learned to love while working at Cilantro’s Burrito Grill was to enjoy cilantro.  I’ll admit it’s a hard herb to love, but once you come to really enjoy the verdant flavor and smell you’ll never stray away again.  I love it in rice and pico and it’s an essential component to great salsa and guacamole.  And on that fateful night when I met Nate it just happened to be smeared all over my shirt, shorts, and my legs.

Hey, my man likes food.  Makes sense that he would marry a girl who smells like it!  The good news is that on our first real date I showered and put on make-up.  High class I tell you, high class.

CILANTRO LIME CHICKPEA SALAD

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 loosely packed cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 onion, chopped small
  • juice from 4 limes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (about loosely packed cup)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Chop the spinach very finely (feel free to use a food processor and pulse 3-4 times).  Add the chickpeas, onion, and spinach to a large bowl.  In the same food processor add the lime juice, cilantro, sugar, mustard, garlic, chili powder, and olive oil.  Process til it comes together into a dressing, about 30-45 seconds.  Pour over the chickpea mixture and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit for about 10 minutes on the counter or overnight in the fridge to let the flavors marry.  Enjoy!

I love that this salad is so bright and filling, full of great flavor and the perfect accompaniment to a summer picnic, party, or the next kismet moment in your life.  Eat up!

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum May 26, 2011

I LOVE the way this looks! Yum! With cilantro and lime… sigh.

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2 Jen @ keepitsimplefoods May 26, 2011

Yes! I love this salad! Chickpeas and cilantro are a match made in heaven. :)

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3 Jessica @ How Sweet May 26, 2011

This sounds SO good. I think I am going to make a batch to have over the weekend!

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4 Salah@myhealthiestlifestyle May 26, 2011

omg this looks sooo good! I’m making Brandon dinner tonight (congratulations on going over to switzerland) and I think I’m going to use this as a side dish!

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5 Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 26, 2011

I LOVE cilantro. Love it. This looks great!!

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6 Lauren at Keep It Sweet May 26, 2011

Yum, I love chickpea salads.

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7 Estela @ Weekly Bite May 26, 2011

I love cilantro!! I love the way it smells! That salad looks delicious :)

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8 Emily @ A Cambridge Story May 26, 2011

This sounds incredible – I have never strayed from cilantro or lime. Love them. I’m definitely making this for my Memorial day BBQ!

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9 Krystina (Organically Me) May 26, 2011

Love this flavor combo with chickpeas – totally refreshing.

I feel like a guy’s dream girl is one that smells like food. Especially bacon.

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10 becca (bellebottoms) May 26, 2011

okay, this is too crazy…but my bro was good friends with Justin Bernard, and worked at Cilantros in college too! He went to Tech! His name is Steve Davis….do you know him???

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11 Heather May 26, 2011

How funny! I don’t know Steve but Justin sang at out wedding. Small world!

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12 becca (bellebottoms) May 26, 2011

that’s crazy! love it! it is a small world indeed! Did you ever meet Shane? We used to go down to DBU when they would do Monday night worship…sooo good!

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13 Urban Wife May 26, 2011

What a great idea! Cilantro is my absolute favorite. Actually, it comes in a close tie with basil. :)

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14 Alicia @ AliGirl Cooks May 26, 2011

I love cilantro! I’m always looking for new side dishes. This looks perfect!

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15 Kate@Diethood May 26, 2011

Nom nom nom…yummy!
Love your presentation! The colors are gorgeous!

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16 Tami@nutmegnotebook May 26, 2011

I have to make that salad. I love cilantro and chick peas!

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17 Rachel May 26, 2011

This looks and sounds divine! If I had spinach in the house I would be making this right now. :)

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18 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun May 26, 2011

Love meals like this for summer. And I’m a huge lover of cilantro.

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19 Elle May 26, 2011

I want this!! I love everything about it. And hey, guys love food, so it makes sense to wear it as a way to get their attention. haha!

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20 AnnaBanana May 26, 2011

Love it! Great story too! I might add corn to mine :) or green tomato Ohhh!

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21 Angela (Oh She Glows) May 26, 2011

Making this asap!!!! YUM! Thanks heather!

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22 Angela (Oh She Glows) May 26, 2011

This is SO GOOD!!!!!

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23 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. May 26, 2011

fabulous for Memorial Day!

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24 Heather @ Dietitian on the Run May 26, 2011

This would make a GREAT summer picnic side!! I can’t say I’ve wholly embraced cilantro yet, but I do love it in small doses :)

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25 leaf (the indolent cook) May 26, 2011

That looks so fresh and appetizing, love it!

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26 Maria May 27, 2011

Cilantro and lime-you can’t go wrong!

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27 Alicia May 30, 2011

I made this for Memorial Day, and it was delicious! Everyone loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

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28 Heather May 30, 2011

that’s fantastic! i’m so glad you liked it!

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29 Stephanie @cookinfanatic May 31, 2011

I made a version of this salad tonight and I have to tell you that it was AMAZING!! Thanks so much for this fabulous recipe, my sister and I truly enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again this summer! :)

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30 Heather June 1, 2011

great! i loved it too…i don’t know if i’ll be able to stop myself from making it a weekly dish :)

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31 Meemz June 28, 2011

For some reason my salad turned out very sweet and no one ended up eating it :(

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32 Heather June 28, 2011

hmmm…i’m sorry it turned out too sweet! i would definitely encourage you to try it again but cut back to 1 Tbsp or no sugar if the original was too sweet for your tastes. thanks for the feedback!

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33 gigi kennedy July 2, 2011

i made this the other night & whoa…SUPER delish! definitely will be making it lots this summer…so fantastic. thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

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34 Andrea July 3, 2011

I just made this for lunch. Fantastic! I subbed a little agave for the sugar because that’s what I had on hand. I’m glad no one is home today because I’ll have it all to myself. :O) Great recipe!!!

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35 Emily @ A Cambridge Story August 3, 2011

I just wanted to say that I made this for Memorial Day and it has quickly become my go-to entertaining dish! So easy, yet flavorful and impressive and filling to guests. Thanks for such an awesome recipe!!

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36 theremina November 8, 2011

Very tasty!
Instead of chopping the onion, I added processed it along with the garlic & the rest of the dressing ingredients.

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37 Sunny EmbracePermaculture Soleil February 1, 2012

OMG – this sounds totally yummy. I’d reduce the sugar considerably, and in doing so, it would become a very healthy balanced vegan dish. I would also substitute chickweed growing wild in my greens bed, for the spinach just because it’s free and wild! Cilantro is one of my fave herbs. When I first tasted it in a Greek lady’s salad, I thought the oil must be rancid. Learned to love it. It’s the perfect sprinkle for any legumes… and we even put it in our morning fresh juice! Thanks!

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38 Katherine February 10, 2012

Just wanted you to know that I made this salad and LOVED it! I paired it with some Chicken Soft Tacos and wrote about it on my blog. I linked back to your blog and this recipe. I originally pinned it from Pinterest. I appreciate you sharing it :)

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39 Duxor April 4, 2012

I made this last night to have for lunch today. I really loved the dressing but might use less olive oil and more lime juice or ramp up the spices next time to increase the punch since I used it as a main dish instead of a side. For me, the recipe produced excess dressing, so I’m excited to toss the rest in an arugula salad tomorrow. I think this dish would make a great stuffing for pita pockets along with some spinach leaves, onion slices, tomato, and maybe a little crumbled feta or a spreading of strained yogurt. Probably the best chickpea salad I’ve ever had.

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40 Heather April 4, 2012

i’m so glad you liked it! i like a lot of dressing, but your adjustments sound good too!

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41 Michelle May 25, 2012

I was thinking that feta would make a great addition and maybe even a little avocado. I love love love arugula, too, so great idea Duxor!

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42 Heather May 25, 2012

Ohhhh feta WOULD be good!

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43 Rachel April 17, 2012

^ I made a TON of extra dressing too that will be really good on salad, although I do think leaving a little “excess” in the salad helps balance out the dryness of the chickpeas.

I am currently eating this for lunch and just had to send the recipe to my boss because she loved it too! THanks!

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44 julesastoria April 19, 2012

Just made this and I love it! It was just as delicious as I imagined it would be. I would probably use 1tbsp of sugar rather than 3 next time, but I’m still loving it and will definitely make it again!

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45 Allie H May 22, 2012

This sounds so delicious but have you considered cutting the sugar, adding tahini and turning it into a super serious hummus? I think I may have some experimenting to do! Great blog!

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46 Heather May 22, 2012

i haven’t thought about the hummus idea but it sounds great! you’ll have to let me know if/when you try it and how it turns out!

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47 Binnie K May 25, 2012

Hi Heather. What size canned chickpeas? Big or small? I’m looking at a 7.75 oz can (shorter than Campbell’s soup) and I know there are medium and large options out there. The quantity of chickpeas would directly affect proportion of sugar, oil and other seasonings. I’d like to test this tonight for weekend-long potential and your guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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48 Heather May 25, 2012

I used 15-oz cans :) let me know how you like it!

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49 Susanne May 25, 2012

Going to make this for a dinner party and needed to know what kind of chili powder you used?
Thanks,
Susanne

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50 Heather May 25, 2012

Just regular mccormicks’s chili powder :)

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51 Berlin Lunchbox May 31, 2012

So very tasty looking! This does look perfect for a picnic.

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52 Gabi June 2, 2012

This salad is really good and fresh! All my guests loved it! Thanks for sharing!

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53 Heather June 4, 2012

that’s great! i’m glad everyone loved it! it’s definitely a staple in our house :)

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54 Angela Blair June 5, 2012

I had a half bag of baby spinach leftover when I made this salad (omg it was good), so I threw it into the pot with the Pea and Mint Gazpacho I was making yesterday. Drop my drawers and spank me into Heaven…that soup was a good as it was green! http://blairopolis.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/its-easy-being-green/

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55 Heather June 5, 2012

ha! i’ll have to try that out…the greener the better :)

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56 Tara G. June 14, 2012

This is absolutely incredilbe. I had to make myself put down the fork to allow it to marinate. Delicious!!!!!

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57 Tianna June 26, 2012

This was so tasty, we ate it up yum!

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58 Allison June 29, 2012

LOVE the dressing! Somehow when I made it there was way too much of it, and my chick peas and spinach drowned. Next time I’ll either use 4 cans for a large crowd or halve the dressing recipe. Absolutely delicious- thank you for sharing!

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59 Teena June 29, 2012

Thank you so much for this! I came home to a crockpot full of chickpeas, and no ideas. Luckily I found your recipe. I had no spinach on hand and substituted extra cilantro and some diced cucumber, and served it on a bed of baby lettuces with diced avocado. Delicious!

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60 Rachel July 9, 2012

I made this tonight and it’s fabulous!!!! So full of flavor.

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61 Heather July 9, 2012

that’s great! it’s still a big favorite around here too :) so glad you liked it!

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62 Mary Josephine July 30, 2012

Made this tonight as a side dish with chicken fajitas. Seriously great dish. So earthy with the cilantro. My husband is not a big cilantro fan and he loved it. I’ll be making this again. Might add some cherry tomatoes and peg corn for fun.

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63 Heather July 30, 2012

thanks mary! i’m so glad you liked it – and i think the tomatoes/corn idea sounds fantastic! i’m thinking i’ll have to try that next week with fajitas :)

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64 Kelly August 14, 2012

I’m surprised to have gotten all the way through your comments without seeing even one about subbing an equal amount of basil and mint! You’ll not go wrong, I promise you.

This salad is on the menu for next weekend’s family BBQ, and I’m certain our vegetarian niece will love it. Thanks!

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65 Kelly August 14, 2012

(Sorry, I wasn’t clear on what I was suggesting the substitution was for! I re-replied below.) k

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66 Kelly August 14, 2012

I’m surprised to have gotten all the way through your comments without seeing even one about subbing an equal amount of basil and mint for the cilantro! You’ll not go wrong, I promise you.

This salad is on the menu for next weekend’s family BBQ, and I’m certain our vegetarian niece will love it. Thanks!

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67 Heather August 14, 2012

Oh I love the basil/mint idea! Yummmmm :)

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68 samantha August 16, 2012

Thank you for this recipe!!!!! I am addicted to this salad and make it every week!

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69 Heather August 16, 2012

that’s great! thanks samantha :)

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70 brenda September 5, 2012

i stumbled across this recipe a few weeks ago and it has become my go to chickpea salad. it is just too good. there is almost always a tub of it in my refrigerator .

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71 Heather September 5, 2012

i’m so thrilled you like it brenda! we love it around here too ;)

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72 Laura September 23, 2012

My friend made this – A.MAZ.ING! I had not wholly embraced cilantro until I had this!!! Just wondering if you think it would freeze well? Would love to make up a big batch to pull out any time we have a picnic or rushed dinner.

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73 Heather September 24, 2012

hey laura! i’m so glad you liked it…it took me a while to warm up to cilantro too, but now that i have i adore it!

i don’t know if you could freeze it – mainly because i don’t know how the chickpeas would stand being frozen and what the texture would be like when they thaw, but it’s certainly worth a try! if you do it let me know how it turns out – i’ll have to make a big batch and stick it in my freezer if it works!

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74 Judy November 30, 2012

Love this recipe and so does the boyfriend !! After 47 years married it is always good to find an exciting ,easy, scrumptious “new” something to serve them !! THANKS xx. We love it xx

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75 Heather November 30, 2012

YAY! :)

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76 Lisa K February 17, 2013

OMG. Have made this twice now and both my boyfriend and I are LOVVVVVING it. Thanks so much!!!! Will keep this as a favourite for bbq’s in the summer!!! The dressing alone could be used on any given salad, would be a great dip for cucumbers and veggies as well. (add strawberries and tastes amazing!!!)

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77 Heather February 18, 2013

Yay! I’m so glad you like this salad – the strawberry idea is genius!!!

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78 Dee March 3, 2013

Cilantro is becoming my favorite herb! Will try this recipe right now!
Your website is beautiful and soooo easy to navigate! I’m in my 70′s
so I really appreciate it when you young people make it easy for
me to print recipes!
Thank you again, Dee

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79 Heather March 3, 2013

You’re welcome Dee! Cilantro grew on me too, and now I love it! Thanks for stopping by!

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80 Charis July 10, 2013

i’ve just made iit….and Love it!!… Thank You!!….

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81 Heather July 10, 2013

YAY! So glad you like it Charis – We love it too!

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82 Aqiyl Aniys April 2, 2014

I love the recipe. I love limes over lemons because of its sweeter taste. I love the pungent taste of cilantro, and chickpeas are my favorite legume. Plus chickpeas are super healthy and easy on the digestive system. I love the combination of tastes.

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