Healthy Mediterranean flavors power this summertime main or side
When the heat is on, we like to eat cool. Enter the main-course salad.
This Mediterranean dish has a base of crunchy cucumbers and toothsome chickpeas. Then we spice it up with Moroccan-themed flavors.
We had planned to visit Morocco in person later this year. Looks like that won’t be happening, so we’ll have to travel virtually – with the assistance of our recipe collection.
Our imaginations will visit the sights. But our taste buds will get the real deal.
Recipe: Moroccan-Spiced Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
Cucumber salads are a summer staple at our house. We’ve explored main-course cuke-based salads before: See our Mexican Cucumber, Tomato, and Bean Salad, for example, and our Tomato, Cucumber, and White Bean Salad.
This one takes us to Morocco – via mint, cinnamon, and orange blossom water.
If you want to make this dish ahead of time, we suggest you mix the vinaigrette and chill it. Prepare the salad and refrigerate it, but don’t add the vinaigrette until you’re ready to serve.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes.
This recipe yields 3 main-course servings or 6 to 8 first-course servings.
For the vinaigrette:
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
- a few pinches of cayenne pepper (to taste; optional)
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (aka orange flower water; see Notes)
- 1 hothouse cucumber (aka English cucumber)
- 1 red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped red onion (see Notes)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint (or more to taste)
- garnish of mint leaves or lemon slices (optional)
- Make the vinaigrette: Add all the ingredients to a small lidded container. Shake until well combined. Use the vinaigrette immediately or refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve the salad.
- When you’re ready to make the salad: Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise (no need to peel the cuke). Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Then cut slices of about ¼ inch across the width of the cuke halves. Add the cucumber pieces to a mixing bowl.
- Wash and dry the red bell pepper, remove the stem end, then core the pepper. Cut the pepper into dice of about ½ inch. Add the pieces to the mixing bowl.
- Dice the red onion into pieces of about ¼ inch. Add the pieces to the mixing bowl.
- Open the can of chickpeas and pour them into a strainer, then rinse them. Add the drained chickpeas to the mixing bowl.
- Mix all the salad ingredients together. Shake the vinaigrette again to recombine all the ingredients, then add it to the salad. Mix all the ingredients well. Add freshly chopped mint and mix it in. Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Serve, adding a fresh mint sprig or a lemon slice to each plate as garnish, if desired.
- Orange blossom water has a wonderful fragrance that perfumes the dish. You could probably use rosewater as a substitute, though we haven’t tried that.
- Substitutions and quantity adjustments of many kinds would probably work well in this dish. So alter the basic recipe to suit your whims.
- Don’t have English/hothouse cucumbers available? Regular slicing cukes work fine (we recommend peeling these).
- No red onion? Yellow onion will work. Even better, try a bunch of scallions.
- Chickpeas add to the Moroccan flair of this dish. But white beans would work OK too.
- We like to use mint in this dish. But you could substitute cilantro. Or parsley.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re substituting table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Mmm, perfumes of Arabia,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Reminds me of my days in Morocco,” I said. “Makes me feel cinnamon-tal.”
“Is that your 2 cents’ worth?” said Mrs K R. “Guess I owe you change.”
“My puns don’t get the encourage-mint they need around here,” I said.
“Careful,” said Mrs K R. “I cayenne put a stop to this in 3, 2, 1 . . .”
Better back off now. Don’t want her to go cuke-ular.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Mexican Cucumber, Tomato, and Bean Salad
Tomato, Cucumber, and White Bean Salad
Summer Green-Bean Salad
White Bean and Tuna Salad
Quick and Easy Gazpacho
Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Mint
Moroccan-Spiced Beet Salad
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Or check out the index for more
I like the combo of chicken and cucumber..one is mellow while the other crunchy and juicy...simply perfect!
Hi Angie, aren't salads like this so nice? And the crunch from cucumbers really is fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Too bad you have to cancel your Moroccan trip, but this dish will come in 'second place' for you. For some strange reason, cucumbers don't agree with me (same thing for any kind of melon), but I could leave this ingredient out. I'm finally following your advice and now using Kosher salt instead of table salt.
Hi Fran, I think travel is going to be out of the question for quite some time, alas. :-( We really like using kosher salt for cooking -- so much easier to control how much you're using, we find. Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is beautiful!I love Moroccan salad for a meal and usually add both mint and cilantro.
Hi Balvinder, both mint and cilantro sounds pretty good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Moroccan cuisine fascinates me. I didn’t have a specific (interrupted) plan to visit there, but I have been hoping it would work out for some time. As you say, it might be a long time. The first comment mentioned chicken, which isn’t on your ingredient list (is it?) but sounds like it might be a good enhancement.
be well.... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, no chicken in our recipe, but I like the idea. Our visit to Morocco was to have been part of a cruise, so brief, but we were really looking forward to it. Mrs KR has never been, and I haven't been there since the mid-70s! Thanks for the comment.
Oh yes, I can say I've been to Casablanca and had mint tea, but oh I wish I could have stayed longer. I will have to satify myself with this salad. With lots of mint on hand and orange water in the pantry, I can't wait to try this!
Sorry you can't make your trip this year but the salad sure looks delicious. ;)
Hi Abbe, mint tea is good, isn't it? Wonderful fragrance. Really, really sweet, though. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dahn, we're not all that optimistic about travel in the foreseeable future, alas. We'll keep our fingers crossed for next year! Thanks for the comment.
Great textures, colors and flavors.
Hi Pam, it's good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks perfect for this time of year. Thanks!
Hi Liberty Belle, doesn't this look great? So tasty and refreshing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Very pretty and summery salad! Love the flavors.
Hi Debra, the flavor of this is really enticing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
*smile* As oft, I seem to be the odd one out ! Basically I eat the same here in Australia whether it is a top cold 16 C temp as today or 42 C + !! This is a lovely side salad but for me for it to 'taste' Moroccan I personally would 'up' the spices used at least double and add a few !! I wonder what a tad of the more common rose water would do to the dressing . . . ? Thanks for the direction . . . have not had my tagine out for a few weeks . . .
Hi Eha, you could easily up the spices on this -- when we make this kind of dish, we often do. We were going to subtle this time around. Unusual for us, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment.
oh you are funny KR! as is Mrs KR. we have many tins of chickpeas in the pantry at any one time. Love 'em! love the idea of using orange flower water too. love moroccan flavours. well this comment is just full of love:-) cheers S
Hi Sherry, love your comment! :D And speaking of that, thanks for the comment. :-)
Must be so aromatic and delicious, love these colors on a plate☺
This sounds wonderful. I've certainly never had a vinaigrette like this before!
Hi Natalia, we really like colorful food. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, the vinaigrette has a nice, slightly haunting, flavor. Good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This combination blows my mind, John! I would never have thought to combine cucumbers and chickpeas in anything! I have had a Moroccan cucumber salad (using the Armenian cucumbers) that has orange blossom water — so I think I will love this! Nice salad. Perfect for the Arizona heat!
Hi David, cucumber salads are big in Morocco -- and usually vary quite a bit from cook to cook. We love how refreshing this is! Thanks for the comment.
I'm sorry about Morocco. But I'm glad you treated yourself to a consolation prize. GREG
Hi Greg, we're sorry about Morocco, too. But then, we'll always have Paris. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love all the salad ingredients you've used John but I particularly like the sound of your vinaigrette, it sounds perfect for summer!
Hi Caroline, salads like this are always so pleasant at this time of the year! And that vinaigrette is really worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I feel like I make some kind of salad pretty much every single night. This is a fun twist with the spices.
Hi Laura, we eat salad throughout the year, but in the warm weather months it's a constant on our table. Thanks for the comment.
It's interesting to read that you are traveling virtually through your recipes. I've been doing the same. It's been fun. Love this little Moroccan salad. What an easy salad to throw together on a hot afternoon when turning on the stove and oven is just out of the question. Thanks for sharing John and hope you get to go there next year.
Hi MJ, not next year (at least I don't think so) but soon, I hope. Cooking is a great way to "travel," isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, I'm loving the flavors in this beautiful salad! The orange blossom water adds such an exotic touch!
Hi Kelly, orange blossom water is always fun to use, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Beautiful colors in this dish and, as you say, it looks very healthy, too. Very nice side for a summer's afternoon cookout. I actually have some orange blossom water somewhere I think, as it's used in a few Italian dishes, so I may give this a try!
Hi Frank, orange blossom water is one of those ingredients we don't often use, but when we need it, we need it. And it's nice in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
How disappointing that you had to cancel your trip. But hopefully, you and the Mrs. will get to go next year. Meantime, this Moroccan-inspired salad is just the ticket to let your taste buds travel.
Not quite the same, but traveling through food is second best. This recipe looks delicious. So hearty and pretty! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Carolyn, we ARE disappointed, but we'll just have to eat more destination-themed dishes like this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Valentina, traveling through food has the advantage of we don't have to leave Kitty Riffs behind. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I loved your yummy homemade vinaigrette recipe. This is such a tasty and refreshing summer dinner idea!
Hi Heidi, we use that vinaigrette (or versions of it) in several dishes -- it's good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Just looking at this reminds me of summer, which is a total opposite to our weather now. At least you brought some sunshine to my screen! Great recipe BTW
Hi Raymund, my mom always called me sonny. :-) Thanks for the comment.
A delicious, refreshing summer salad! Perfect for a hot evening....of which we're had many so far!
Hi Liz, it's been beastly lately, hasn't it? Salads for the win! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a great summer salad - light, flavorful, and delicious!
This salad looks so good!
Hi Amy, it's good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Josiah, it's really nice -- great flavor and texture. Thanks for the comment.
What a flavorful and delicious salad! I love how it has chickpeas, too - a very versatile ingredient.
Hi NEJ, chickpeas are so good, aren't they? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Be4ealthy, yup! Thanks for the comment.
Love this salad AND the puns! (I think my comment on the Mr Bali Hai cocktail got lost, but wow!)
Hi Jean, we love our "jokes." :-) Thanks for the comment (and the Mr. Bali Hai one too -- it showed up.)
I like cucumber and also chick peas but never thought of adding them together. I usually eat a lot of chick peas but in other recipes. I spent a week in Morocco (Marrakesh and Essaouira) and my favorite was their couscous (I mean the whole dish.) I like to create new recipes. Yesterday I fried slices of kohlrabi with herbs and shallot then added fresh corn, green peppers and more, then some salsa so it would not stick, then some fajita meat. My daughters said it sounded awful but was actually pretty good. I think I did put some shawarma spice in it. I’ll come back to look at your recipes as they look tasty.
Hi Vagabonde, cukes and chickpeas don't seem like a pairing that would work, but in a dish like this they're pretty good together. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Lovely dish and so healthy, my husband is not a salad eater but I think he will like this one .
Hi Gerlinde, bet he'll enjoy this! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Sounds like a nice light summer salad. I love all the colors in and flavors. Sounds delicious.
Hi Dawn, it's pretty, isn't it? And awfully good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hey John, Totally love this recipe, feels fresh and light. How are you? I remember I am here after such long time. Hope you are doing good. Have a great day!
Hi Rahul, good to see you! It's been awhile. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Need to make this. So colorful.
Hi R, really flavorful, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
KR this salad looks so delicious and fresh, I make a very similar salad to this, and your vinaigrette looks like the perfect addition. I must try it. Colourful summer salads are so versatile, love them, and they keep for days in the frig, without the dressing of course. A very clever and healthy recipe, thanks so much for sharing.
Hi Pauline, that vinaigrette is nice! We make variations of it for a lot of different salads. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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