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