This vegan chickpea pasta salad is a simple summer side dish, ideal for family bbq’s or as a pack n’ go picnic menu item and is sure to please the palates of vegans and non-vegans alike. The rich, nutty chickpeas add texture to this light and refreshing salad, and a healthy dose of plant-based protein which vegans will love.
My love for chickpeas has grown substantially ever since I bit the bullet and purchased dried chickpeas and cooked them myself. There is a significant difference in the texture and flavour of canned and dried chickpeas. For example, while the skin on canned chickpeas is tough and thick, it remains soft and translucent on the dried variety, not to mention if you do choose to discard the skins it is much easier when the chickpeas are cooked since the skins literally separate from the chickpeas.
Let’s talk hummus for just a moment. If you’ve prepared hummus at home (with canned chickpeas), I’m sure you’ve pondered the reason why the final product is never as smooth and creamy as restaurant-style hummus. The reason? More often than not, they cook their own chickpeas! It’s as simple as that. For this recipe (and for most recipes lately), I opted for dried chickpeas…because you just can’t beat the flavour and texture!
The combination of simple yet flavourful ingredients makes this pasta salad stand out from the rest. Simply toss some penne or pasta of choice (gluten-free in this case) with chickpeas, tart dill and fresh lemon juice, rich extra virgin olive oil, creamy chunks of avocado and earthy capers and you have a crowd-pleaser, perfect for a dinner party, family meal, or packed lunch for the kids.
If preparing dried chickpeas, soak covered in water overnight with 1 tablespoon of baking soda-this helps soften the chickpeas. To cook, transfer the chickpeas and water to a large pot and bring to a boil. After a few minutes the baking soda will create a layer of foam in the pot. Skim with a slotted spoon and discard then continue to cook the chickpeas for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender. Remove with the slotted spoon then add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time on the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and allow to cool. Once the chickpeas and pasta is cool to the touch, transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasoning if needed then store in the fridge for at least one hour to cool.