This is one of my favorite backyard gathering recipes. It’s the type of event where people come over for a leisurely dinner and yard games in the cool of the evening (one of my favorite gatherings). I like to do a mix of make-ahead and hot dishes for these types of gatherings and while this cucumber salad can be made ahead, I really love this as a warm, served-fresh salad. The chickpeas are cooked with sumac until golden then tossed with the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s the perfect blend of hot and fresh. Unfamiliar with sumac? It’s a lovely, tart spice that is a main ingredient in za’atar and also fattoush salad.
A flavorful summer salad that uses fresh, summer cucumber and tomatoes paired with easy sumac spiced chickpeas.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chickpeas drained and rinsed if using canned
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cups chopped cucumber (Persian, if possible)
- 1 1/2 cups sliced grape tomato
- 1/4 cup sliced white onion
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- Lemon juice for serving
- Olive oil for serving
- Sumac for serving
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, followed by chickpeas, sumac, and cumin. Stir well, coating the chickpeas with the spices. Lightly fry the chickpeas until the chickpeas are warm and starting to pop then become golden. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Chickpeas should be golden and hot but not super crisp.
- Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a bowl. Add in the warm chickpeas and stir until the salad is well combined. Serve with extra lemon juice, olive oil, and sumac.
Tips & Tricks: If you find yourself with a cucumber that has thicker skin, I recommend peeling. The cucumber plays a supporting role in this salad and I like it to be on the delicate side.
Nutrition: see the information.
This cucumber salad is simple enough that you can play around with some of the ingredients. If you’re into the bread aspect of the fattoush salad, you could easily bring that into this recipe. Also, don’t try and swap out the sumac. It’s flavor isn’t easily matched and once you pick up sumac, you can make za’atar whenever you want!
Beans: I also love this salad with just-warmed plump white beans or if you want to go the heirloom route, these Royal Corona Beans.
Greens: Make this a more traditional salad by using lettuce or spinach as a base. This is also a great route if you want to make this salad ahead, let the beans cool, then toss with greens before serving.
Grains: I love this salad with grains or even pearl couscous. Quinoa also works but I recommend only tossing in 1/2 to 1 cup cooked grains as to not overpower the fresh cucumber/tomato combination.
Sumac adds the tartness to help balance the more earthy and sweet aspects of a lot of dishes (which is why it works so well with sesame seeds in the za’atar blend). Sumac can be a bit tricky to buy, so use caution when purchasing. Some brands have added salt or might have sat some time (lessening the flavor). I recommend this company.