Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (Balela)




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Balelea Salad, Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (Balela) ~ You know I love a great bean salad as much as I love Middle Eastern food, and this hearty Mediterranean chickpea salad paired with creamy labneh is healthy, and full of flavor, fiber, and protein.  It’s also a lot of fun to eat.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela) with labneh and pita bread

Spring has sprung (almost!) and welcome to  recipe #2 in my March Main Course Salad Challenge, where I’m sharing a hearty main course salad every Wednesday in the month of March to inspire you to go green once a week this season, and hopefully beyond.  My main course salad #1, in case you missed  it, was this Salmon Cobb Salad.

I’ve got quite a collection of bean salads here at tvfgi, from the classic American potluck versions to more exotic international recipes.   While we normally think of a bean salad as a side dish, I figured it was time to feature one of them as the star of the meal.

Balela salad with labneh and pita bread

What is balela salad?

Balela, pronounced ba-LAY-la, is a Middle Eastern chickpea and black bean salad made with chopped tomatoes and lots of parsley and mint.  Garlic and lemon, too.

I’ve great islandized my balela with extra crunch from cucumbers, peppers (of course!) and briny olives.

My Middle Eastern balela salad is a complete meal served with thick creamy labneh and some great pita bread for scooping everything up.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela)

This bean salad is one of the healthiest things you can put in your body ~

  • beans are full of protein and soluble fiber.  They’re being studied for their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease (by lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol) and type 2 diabetes.   They appear to promote a longer life span, too.
  • Beans help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full and satisfied, and controlling blood sugar.
  • The herbs are packed with vitamins and minerals, aid digestion, and help detoxify and support the liver.
  • Tomatoes and olives contain antioxidants which fight heart disease and cancer.
  • The cukes are hydrating and give you vitamin K.
  • Even the olive oil and lemon dressing contributes antioxidants and Vitamin C.

Ok, I love beans, but they cause gas!

  • Beans can cause gas, and the problem affects some people more than others.  It’s because beans contain certain starches that we can’t digest; we lack the enzyme that does the job.  The process of breaking these sugars down in our body is what causes gas.
  • Don’t let gas stop you from eating beans ~ for most of us our bodies will gradually get used to them, start slow and work up to about a 1/2 cup serving a day.  If you are one of the unlucky ones who still has problems, Taste of Home has some good pointers for de-gassing beans.

Making a Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela salad)

In this case the ‘greens’ in your salad are herbs; parsley and mint, to be exact.

It’s a combination that is common in Middle Eastern cuisine, and it’s an important feature of this salad.  I like to pop them in the processor to chop them up, it does the work in no time.  Don’t skimp on these herbs, it looks like a lot but they chop down to nothing, and they’re what give this salad its distinctive flavor.

parsley and mint in a processor for Balela salad

The simple lemony vinaigrette dressing features a bright red Middle Eastern spice called sumac.  It’s made from the berries of the sumac bush and it looks a little like chili powder.  It’s not spicy, but has a lemony tang, and I’ve used it in dressings before (it’s in my Fattoush Salad, of of my favorites!)

tvfgi recommends: sumac


If you like to make Middle Eastern food sumac is a must.  If you have any of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks you’ll know this.  As with any spice, I recommend buying it in a small quantity so it is fresh.

Dressing a Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela salad)

What tips this salad over into main course land is the thick labneh and pita bread.  This salad would traditionally be eaten using torn pieces of pita as scoops.  You can toast the pita if you like, here’s my method if you want to do it yourself.

a stack of homemade pita bread

Did you know you can easily make your own fresh pita bread?

Pita bread is easy to make, and doesn’t require any special skills or equipment, in fact, it can be ‘baked’ right in a pan on the stove top.  It’s a great recipe for a beginner bread maker, and is so satisfying.

Here is my recipe for How To Make Perfect Pita Bread.

Middle Eastern Balela Salad with pita bread

And guess what?  You can also make your own homemade labneh!

Here’s How to Make Labneh (yogurt Cheese)   I highly recommend you give it a try, it was a total surprise to me how much we all loved it.  It’s part of our regular routine now.  Basically you will just drain regular yogurt so that it becomes thick and spreadable.  Delicious.


Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (Balela)
Rate this recipe
14 ratings

Category: salad

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Yield: serves 6-8

Calories per serving: 182.04 kcal

Fat per serving: 9.33 g

Saturated fat per serving: 1.24 g

Carbs per serving: 20.28 g

Protein per serving: 6.11 g

Fiber per serving: 6.52 g

Sugar per serving: 3.35 g

Sodium per serving: 327.78 mg

Balelea Salad, Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

I like to mince the herbs and the garlic in my food processor, it makes the job quick and easy and everything gets finely and evenly chopped.

Ingredients

  • 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
  • 7 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped bell peppers, assorted colors
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black olive
  • 1/4 cup halved or sliced stuffed green olives
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 packed cup parsley leaves, minced
  • 1/2 packed cup mint leaves, minced
    dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sumac (more to taste)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the dressing and taste to adjust any of the ingredients.
  2. Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss lightly with the dressing.
  3. Serve with labneh, either along side, or on top, and fresh pita bread, toasted or not.

Nutrition Facts

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (Balela)

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories 182.04 kcal
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9.33 g 14.4%
Saturated Fat 1.24 g 6.2%
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 327.78 mg 13.7%
Total Carbohydrate 20.28 g 6.8%
Dietary Fiber 6.52 g 26.1%
Sugars 3.35 g
Protein 6.11 g
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Make this balela salad recipe your own~

  • Feel free to play with the proportions of any of the ingredients.  Add more black beans, or omit them entirely.

 

 

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Spooning dressing on Middle Eastern Balela Salad

 

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Janet Lewis
    April 6, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Made this for dinner on Wednesday, had it for lunch Thursday and Friday, and just had another nibble for a late breakfast. Wonderful flavors and I feel so virtuous eating it! The only change I made was to switch in naan for the pita. Delicious!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 6, 2019 at 7:32 am

      Thanks Janet, I love bean salad for breakfast ~ and you said it perfectly, I do feel virtuous when I eat this ;)

  • Reply
    Laurelei
    March 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    LOL Was headed to Twitter to see what’s being said about Congress overturning the national emergency, and typing t into my address bar and hitting enter didn’t take me there, it brought me to you instead. I just wanted to say that’s one of the best outcomes of a navigation error ever. You’re far better for my digestion than politics.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      I’m cracking up, I have to agree, that was pretty smart of google :)

  • Reply
    ClaireSeide
    March 14, 2019 at 5:11 am

    I just have to ask: does sumac have anything to do with poisen sumac ?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 14, 2019 at 7:49 am

      No, it’s a different plant :)

  • Reply
    Valentina
    March 13, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Wow, this is so gorgeous! The Lebneh sounds fun to try also. Jumping over there now. :-) Just lovely!

  • Reply
    Tricia | Saving Room for Dessert
    March 13, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    This is exactly what I’ve been craving! Love that you served it over Labneh. Yum! Pinned :)

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    March 13, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Sue, your Salad Series are impecable; not only as a healthy-colourful-inviting-delicious meal, but also as a plate of ideas on combining ingredients and why so! I just love it! Great job!

  • Reply
    Vicky
    March 13, 2019 at 10:49 am

    What a gorgeous, colorful dish! So much good stuff going on here. I like the idea of serving it with homemade pita bread. I love chick peas and can’t wait to make this!

  • Reply
    Rosa
    March 13, 2019 at 10:24 am

    What a stunning and colourful dish. Wow this looks so loaded with flavour. Definitely going to try this one!

  • Reply
    Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen
    March 13, 2019 at 9:27 am

    This looks like such a hearty salad, packed full of flavor from those fresh herbs. I love chickpeas, so look forward to trying this out!

  • Reply
    Ruth
    March 13, 2019 at 9:21 am

    I’m on board for the challenge, did one last week and now I’m excited for this one :)

  • Reply
    Tawnie Kroll
    March 13, 2019 at 9:20 am

    These colors…yummm!! Cannot wait to make!

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    March 13, 2019 at 9:16 am

    A Salad full of health and goodness. Great weekend dinner option for the entire family.

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