Hey, friends! It’s summertime and we’re looking for simple-to-prepare salads that will wake up our tastebuds, right?
Well, you could call today’s recipe a “happy accident.” I started with a salad from a Spanish cookbook, but when I couldn’t find corn nuts — a key ingredient, according to the author — I decided to substitute marinated chickpeas.
The result is a colorful summer salad that’s so light and tasty — AND better nutrition-wise than the original dish since chickpeas are a legume with all kinds of healthy goodness. I served it for dinner with barbecued chicken and broiled asparagus and we both loved it. I’m betting you’ll love it, too!
You’ll need to prepare some ingredients in advance
Watermelon Tomato Salad with Marinated Chickpeas has two “make-ahead” components: marinating the chickpeas and sweating the tomatoes. It’s best to allow a few hours (or even overnight if you want) for the chickpeas to marinate. Sweating the tomatoes only takes about 30 minutes. Once those two things are done, the dish comes together very quickly.
A note about photography in this post: I didn’t succeed in getting decent photos of my actual salad [insert sad face]. The featured stock image above doesn’t show tomatoes — but you get the idea! Also, I served mine in a shallow serving dish, not piled up in a bowl. It looked more like a charcuterie — but you’ll definitely need silverware for this one.
Make This Recipe Your Own
I’m betting you could make many variations on this salad and still end up with a delicious summer side dish that will have your family or guests coming back for more.
Don’t have any blueberries? That’s okay. Think cucumber from your garden would be good? I support you. Have someone who doesn’t love goat cheese or is vegan? Just serve it on the side or omit it altogether. I promise not to judge.
Cooking should be fun and intuitive. If we’re thinking more about sustainable meal prep these days (I know I am) — that means when putting together a simple salad, we don’t need to run to the store to follow everything to the letter. The key ingredients here are tomatoes, watermelon and marinated chickpeas. Get creative with the rest of it!
Curious about the original inspiration recipe?
More Summer Recipes
Now Let’s Take a Look at the Main Ingredients
- Fresh Tomatoes: The original recipe called for Heirloom tomatoes, but I used Beefsteak. They are “beefy” (of course) and not too watery. I think any hearty tomato would work well.
A side note: I don’t love fresh tomatoes; I tolerate them. If you’re in the same camp, you should still give this salad a try. Sweating the tomatoes gives them a slightly sweeter, more concentrated flavor. Prepared this way, you’re less likely to end up with tasteless, watery tomatoes and yellow seed goop dripping down your chin.
- Fresh Blueberries: I had some in the fridge to use up and I don’t regret this decision 😊.
- Chickpeas: I used canned chickpeas, which worked just fine. Dried chickpeas would probably absorb the marinade flavors better, but I didn’t have the patience to soak them overnight, cook them and then marinate them.
Since the chickpeas are replacing crunchy corn nuts (a.k.a. quicos), I thought about subbing in roasted chickpeas for the crunch. But then I read that roasted chickpeas turn to mush quickly and are best served within an hour — which wasn’t in my game plan. Let me know in the comments if you experiment with this or know of any roasted chickpeas that keep their crunch!
Quick Nutrition Fact: Chickpeas are low in calories and a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus they’re high in protein, which helps you to feel full longer.
- White Wine Vinegar: The original recipe called for Sherry vinegar, but I try to use what I have instead of buying a specialty ingredient. Feel free to use either one.
- Sweet Onion: Be sure to slice it thin.
- Garlic: I doubled the garlic, as per usual. We are a family of garlic lovers…what can I say? You should adjust it to suit your taste, of course.
Watermelon Tomato Salad with Marinated Chickpeas and Goat CheeseCourse: Salads
This light and flavorful summer salad is perfect for days when it’s too hot to cook. Once you’ve done some easy prep, this tasty dish comes together very quickly.
- Marinated Chickpeas
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 TBSP. white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1-2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced and pressed with a garlic press, if you have one
- Watermelon + Tomato Salad
2 large Beefsteak or other hearty tomatoes
2 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweet onion, very thinly sliced
Fresh blueberries – about 1/2 cup or to your liking
Goat cheese, crumbled — for topping or serving on the side
- Marinated Chickpeas
- You’ll need to allow time for the chickpeas to marinate —- at least several hours or even overnight, if you wish. The flavor will improve with marinating time.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. I mashed the chickpeas very lightly with a fork to allow them to soak in more marinade. Keep in the refrigerator for at least two to three hours or longer, if desired. Note: I only used about half the batch of marinated chickpeas in this recipe. Reserve the rest and add them to another salad.
- Prepare Tomatoes Ahead
- Slice the tomatoes and lay them out in a single layer on paper towels. Salt liberally, preferably with sea salt. Let them sit for at least half an hour, then pat dry. Sweating the tomatoes like this gives them a sweeter, more concentrated flavor.
- Assemble the Salad Just Before Serving
- Cut the tomato slices into smaller bite-sized pieces and arrange them in a single layer in a serving dish. Top with the watermelon, onion and blueberries.
- Gently mix in the marinated chickpeas, being sure to get some of the vinegar and oil dressing onto the salad. (I used about half the batch; reserve the rest for other uses.) Top with crumbled goat cheese, if using. Serve immediately.
- This recipe would likely serve four people as a small side dish; For more generous portions, it would serve two. Refrigerate any leftovers. We did eat some the next day with no loss in flavor.
Okay — over to you! Let me know if you try this recipe or have any questions. I’d also love to know if you make any substitutions.
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