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Balela Salad (Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad)

Balela Salad – A quick and easy Middle Eastern chickpea salad recipe featuring fresh flavors, herbs and spices and makes a healthy salad, dip or pita filler!

a side angle view of balela salad in a white serving bowl with silver utensils with black handles

Why We Love This Recipe!

Balala salad is an incredibly easy Middle Eastern style bean salad featuring chickpeas and black beans, tossed together with diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, parsley and mint. Add to that a bit of sumac, olive oil, lemon juice, mineral salt and pepper, and you’re in for a deliciously, nutrient dense and satisfying meal!

If you’re an avid Trader Joe’s shopper, you may have already seen this salad in the refrigerated section by the prepared foods. Most of the time when I go to grab a tub, there’s only a few left. It’s a hot commodity at my local TJ’s so I set out to come up with my own version. Making it yourself is super easy and you’ll have much more than a little tub!

I used the ingredient list on the Trader Joe’s Balela Salad package and came up with my own version. The only thing I changed was adding diced cucumber, which lends a refreshing flavor to the overall dish. It tastes just as good, if not better, as the store bought!

top down, side by side, view of the ingredients for balela salad on a linen dishtowel, next to the produce chopped and ready to use

Balela Salad Ingredients

Full of colorful, fresh ingredients, this salad is full-flavored and always on repeat! Ingredients include:

  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – Use canned or freshly cooked.
  • Black beans – Use canned or freshly cooked.
  • Roma tomatoes – This variety is great for chopping and using in salads. You can also use cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • Red onion – Adds a nice pop of color and has a mellow flavor.
  • English cucumber – Feel free to use regular or Persian varieties.
  • Garlic – Use fresh or jarred minced for ease.
  • Mint – Fresh mint is recommended.
  • Parsley – Fresh is best.
  • Sumac – I love using ‘New York Shuk’ which can be found at Target or Amazon (affiliate link).
  • Mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper – Use to taste.
  • Olive oil – You can omit this for an oil-free salad.
  • Lemon – Adds a wonderful brightness to the salad.

What if I don’t have sumac?

The sumac called for in the recipe is a uniquely flavored spice. It’s noted for being slightly sour and bitter, as well as sweet and salty. It’s a new addition to my spices and I can’t get enough of it. If you haven’t added sumac to your spice collection or don’t have it on hand, your salad will be fine without it. There is enough flavor from everything else for it to be satisfying.

top down view of the ingredients for balela salad added to mixing bowl before mixing

How To Make Balela Salad

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas and black beans.
  • Dice the veggies. I diced them on the smaller side so they would be about the same size as the beans or just slightly smaller. There is no need to skimp on the veggies; if you feel you’d rather use more of anything, by all means, add as much as you like!
  • Assemble. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, garlic, mint and parsley (shown above).
  • Finishing touch. Add the sumac, a good drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine (shown below).

This makes a large batch, so you’re likely to have leftovers unless you’re taking it to a potluck or gathering.

If simply making it for yourself, you’ll be glad to have the extra for meals throughout the week or weekend. It may not even last that long!

top down view of balela salad just mixed together in a large bamboo mixing bowl with silver utensils with black handles

How To Store

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days. I don’t recommend freezing this with the cucumber added. If you plan on freezing, omit the cucumber for best results.

Serving Suggestions

  • Balela salad can be served as is, chilled, or at room temperature.
  • Serve your Middle Eastern chickpea salad with a handful of arugula. The arugula pairs well with the salad and looks great!
  • It also makes a great filler for pita sandwiches (shown below) and wraps. Slather a bit of creamy Hummus inside the bread, add a little arugula, and fill it up with the bean salad. It’s flavorful and delicious!
  • Pair with this easy homemade Vegan Naan!
a side angle view of balela salad in pita bread making balela pita wraps

More Mediterranean Recipes!

If you try this easy chickpea recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

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BALELA SALAD RECIPE

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 14 reviews

Balela Salad is a flavorful and nutritious Mediterranean chickpea & black bean salad brimming with fresh veggies, herbs, and sumac. It pairs perfectly with pita bread, arugula, and hummus.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serve – 6
  • Category: Salad, Entree, Side
  • Method: toss
  • Cuisine: Vegan Mediterranean

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 firm roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 34 tablespoons olive oil (I used a garlic infused olive oil)
  • juice of 1 large lemon

Optional ingredients to serve with:

Instructions

Assemble: In a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, garlic, mint and parsley. Add the sumac, a good drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This salad is perfect on pita bread or Vegan Naan slathered with classic Hummus and layered with arugula. Alternatively, you can add a large handful of arugula to the salad and serve it with pita bread and hummus on the side.

Serves 6

Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for 5 – 6 days.

Notes

Try adding a dash of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for a little heat.

If making wraps, try this Simple White Bean Hummus as an alternative to classic hummus.

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25 Comments

  1. I absolutely love this salad! Not growing up with eating chickpeas and black beans in South Africa, I have now fallen in love with it! Your recipes are the best ever!






  2. We make a double helping of this every month, at least (easier since not tossing/wondering what to do with half a cucumber and onion!

    I have tried it with sumac, and personally didn’t like the bitter, pungent taste. I read that lemon pepper could be substituted, and that’s what I use instead–works fabulously for this American palate lol. We aren’t vegetarians, so we add a little feta.

    Thank you so much for this recipe–I’ve tried other variations and keep coming back to yours.






  3. I looked up several Balela salad recipes after I kept going back to Trader Joe’s sometimes more than once in a single weekend to stock up on this. This recipe is my absolute favorite and one year in I have not slowed down in making it. I crave this all the time, as someone else has mentioned, it’s my potluck go-to, and I love to have some in the fridge for late-night cravings.






  4. This is now my pot-luck go to. I receive a lot of compliments, it can be chilled or room temperature and so travels well. It is versatile because it can fit a lot of different dietary needs and preferences. I usually take a long a bowl of feta cheese and set that beside the salad as a topping option. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It is now a standard in my home and among my friends.






  5. I like to serve mine over plain Greek yogurt! The tartness of the yogurt is so good with the flavors of the salad!

  6. Alyssa Grant says:

    Hi Julie! I haven’t been able to find the Trader Joe’s balela so I decided to try yours as the pic looked sooo appetizing. This knocked my socks off!! Love your addition of cucumbers. Like everyone else this was my first time buying sumac and I can’t wait to try it on a bunch of other stuff. Thank you for introducing me to a new spice!!






    1. I have also made this salad from ingredients listed on Trader Joe’s. Just excellent. Goes so well with kebabs. I add a lot of chopped parsley and mint and lemon juice…and a little chopped jalapeño…. It can not go wrong.

  7. Anastasia says:

    I too read the Trader Joe’s label to try and figure out this beautiful salad. I bought my first ground sumac for it too! I also did a little internet searching to see what others had done. Your recipe is my favorite. This salad is wonderful and ground sumac is my new favorite spice. Recommended to herbivores and omnivores alike.






  8. John Branch says:

    Costco introduced us to Balela – and we loved it! Once I discovered how quick and easy it is to make a huge batch, we’ve never bought it again. This recipe is superb, and the blend of flavors will knock your socks off! I swear I could make a meal off just this dish.






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