Chickpea Salad with Pesto

Chickpea Salad with Pesto in a large white bowl 2

Chickpea Salad with Pesto might just be the perfect salad, perfect for family meals, potlucks and working lunches alike. This deliciously colorful Mediterranean bean salad should be a staple in any healthy meal plan.

Chickpea Salad with Pesto in a large white bowl

Can a salad be perfect? I guess so, because this one checks all the boxes~

  • it’s super healthy: legumes like chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are nutritional powerhouses.
  • it’s super convenient, the beans and olives are right in the pantry, the crisp veggies are staples, and the pesto, pine nuts, and little mozzarella pearls are a quick grocery store pick up.
  • it’s year round, perfect for a summer potluck or a January side dish.
  • it keeps well in the fridge making it ideal for packable lunches all week.
  • it’s gorgeous, which makes it fun to make, share, and eat.
  • it’s adaptable ~ add in or leave out ingredients as you like, i.e. feta for mozzarella, green olives for black, cannellini beans for garbanzos, etc.
Healthy Chickpea Salad with Pesto with napkin, jar of pesto, and pine nuts

Are you in a health quandry? Beans are the answer!

So many of us constantly wonder what’s healthy, what’s not, and how to adjust our diets so that we can still enjoy our food and be reasonably certain we’re doing the right thing. We all sort of know we’re supposed to eat more fruits and veggies, but don’t forget the beans!

Beans (legumes) are high in protein and fiber, full of vitamins and antioxidants, low in fat. Beans are a complex carbohydrate that helps keep you feeling fuller longer.

“It seems clear that replacing red meat with legumes can reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and even certain forms of cancer” ~ Harvard Health Watch

The problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to include beans in their diet, and that’s where this type of easy bean salad comes in. I make a big one on the weekend and we can eat it for days.

Mediterranean chickpea salad with

Are canned beans as healthy as dried beans?

  • I say yes, canned and dried beans are about the same nutritionally except for one important detail: sodium. Canned beans are much higher in sodium because of the canning process.
  • Canned beans are so much more convenient than dried, so in my opinion, they’re the best choice.
  • Remember, the healthiest beans are the ones you actually eat!

Does rinsing get rid of the sodium in canned beans?

  • Yes, some of it! Draining well and rinsing under the faucet for one minute will remove much of the sodium, but not all. Depending on what source you look at, between 26 and 50%  of the sodium in the beans will be removed by thorough rinsing.
  • If you’re watching your salt intake, look for low sodium canned beans.
Dressing a Chickpea Salad with pesto

I’ve done quite a few beans salads here on the blog because we actually love them and them a lot. The detail that distinguishes this one is the bright pesto dressing. I was inspired by a Lebanese bean salad we get at one of our local farmers markets. The pesto makes a really nice change from vinaigrette ~ it’s less tart and somehow makes the salad a little more hearty and satisfying. The vivid basil flavor is always a bonus.

Pesto dressing for a Chickpea Salad

Fresh is always best…

I bought some readymade pesto from Trader Joes thinking I would use it for this salad (if any of you are regulars you might have seen Saturday’s post about the things I always buy from Trader Joe’s.)  Their pesto actually didn’t make that list, and it became clear to me why, when I opened it and tasted it prior to dressing the salad. It just isn’t great, the flavor is off, it doesn’t taste fresh or even particularly basil-y to me.

So I grabbed something that DID make the list, my living basil plant, mowed off all the stems, and popped them into my processor with a clove of garlic, a glug of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, a few scrapes of Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt. Now I had the pesto dressing of my dreams 🙂

Weck Jars filled with Chickpea Salad with Pesto

I use Weck canning jars (not just for cannng!)

The jar I used in this post is the Weck 742 Mold Jar (.5 litre) and it’s a nice size for lunches. I use these pretty German canning jars for canning, yes, but also for pantry storage, leftovers, and lunch to-go. I’ve also got plastic lids for them, which are perfect for when I’m not canning.
A set of 6 of these useful large jars is under $35 on Amazon, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll fall in love with them. I’m obsessed with Weck jars, I want them in every size and shape.

Reader Rave ~

“I made this last night and am eating more for lunch as I write this! I think you are right that this might be the perfect dish! So easy, tasty and healthy. I am fortunate that I can buy homemade pesto at my local farmers market, which made it that much easier and it’s a genius idea to use pesto as the dressing. This is a keeper!” ~ Nancy

Mediterranean chickpea salad with
3.36 from 70 votes

Chickpea Salad with Pesto

Chickpea Salad with Pesto is perfect for potlucks and working lunches alike. This colorful Mediterranean bean salad should be on any healthy meal plan
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Calories 254.72kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 2 15- ounce cans chickpeas drained and well rinsed
  • 1 cup finely diced bell peppers assorted colors
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced Persian cucumber these are the small ones, do not peel
  • 1/2 cup small mozzarella pearls
  • 1/2 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes assorted colors
  • 1/3 cup quartered small radishes
  • 1/3 cup diced black olives
  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion
  • fresh cracked black pepper

pesto dressing (this will make more than you need, use the rest on pasta!)

  • 2 large handfuls fresh basil leaves and part of the stems I used my whole TJs basil plant
  • 1 small garlic clove smashed and peel removed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a good grating of fresh Parmesan as much or as little as you like
  • 1/4 cup olive oil give or take
  • salt to taste


  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts toast in a little olive oil in a skillet for several minutes, stirring constantly until they turn nutty brown.
  • lemon wedges


  • Put the drained, rinsed, and dried chickpeas in a large salad bowl along with the rest of the salad ingredients.
  • To make the pesto dressing, process the basil, garlic, and lemon briefly until it breaks down into a thick paste. Add the cheese and enough olive oil to make a loose pourable consistency. Add salt to taste, and more cheese, and/or lemon if you like.
  • Toss the salad with just enough pesto to thoroughly coat everything. Serve topped with the toasted pine nuts, a good grinding of fresh cracked pepper, and accompanied by a couple of lemon wedges.


Calories: 254.72kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.9g | Protein: 11.11g | Fat: 11.96g | Saturated Fat: 2.26g | Sodium: 383.36mg | Fiber: 7.99g | Sugar: 6.02g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

More healthy bean salads if you’re ready to take the ‘eat more beans’ challenge ~


Chickpea salad pin.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2019 at 10:47 am

    5 stars
    I made this last night and am eating more for lunch as I write this! I think you are right that this might be the perfect dish! So easy, tasty and healthy. I am fortunate that I can buy homemade pesto at my local farmers market, which made it that much easier and it’s a genius idea to use pesto as the dressing. This is a keeper!

    • Reply
      February 7, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Thank you Nancy, it’s always great to get feedback so quickly on recipes. I am turning into a bean salad fanatic, I’ve already got a couple more planned. You are so lucky to find pesto at the farmers market, I bet it’s amazing.

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    February 4, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    What a stunner of a salad! I love all these gorgeous colors! 🙂

  • Reply
    2 sisters recipes
    January 30, 2019 at 9:42 am

    We love everything in this chickpea salad especially the little mozzarella balls! And we agree with you, TJs pesto sauce is off our list too- and homemade is the way to go. Can’t wait to make this salad!

    • Reply
      January 30, 2019 at 3:04 pm

      It’s funny because I used to buy that pesto all the time, before I new any better 😉

  • Reply
    John / Kitchen Riffs
    January 30, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Mmmm, this looks really good. We love dried legumes and pulses! Have them at least once a week, usually 2 or 3 times. We often used canned (it’s easy) but will also cook a big pot of beans and freeze them in cup-size containers. That way we get both portion control and ease-of-use. Anyway, terrific read — thanks.

    • Reply
      January 30, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Thanks John…I’ve gotten away from cooking dried beans unless I need them for a recipe where they will be used super soft or pureed, like re-fried beans or bean soup. I find they get so mushy no matter how careful I am.

  • Reply
    Di M.
    January 30, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Oh my goodness! This salad looks and sounds so good! I’m looking forward to trying it soon.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Tricia | Saving Room for Dessert
    January 29, 2019 at 5:15 am

    Another gorgeous work of art! This salad is perfect in every way. LOVE the pesto dressing. You are amazing Sue! PINNED!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2019 at 3:48 am

    Pesto is definitely a favourite. Delicious and so versatile too.

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