Kale Quinoa Salad with Crispy Chickpeas


I love the simplicity of this salad. All you need are just a few raw veggies, a yummy dressing, and a crunchy, salty, crispy topper. The main event here is making the crispy chickpeas. We use cornstarch to coat the chickpeas before adding them to a hot pan with oil, let them get nice and crispy, then toss with a delicious spice blend. Both drying the drained chickpeas and adding cornstarch are key to getting super crispy chickpeas. Make the salad ahead and add the chickpeas fresh out of the pan!

Feel free to add grilled chicken, steak, or any other protein!

Ingredient highlight

Quinoa! Though we think of this as a grain, it’s actually a seed to a plant! That’s why it’s such a great source of plant-based protein since it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It’s also rich in magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber.

Servings 4 People
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes


  • ½ cup quinoa (about 1 ½ cups cooked)
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed, finely chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 carrots peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup sliced scallions (green parts) or chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped dried tart cherries (or cranberries)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • ½ cup toasted almonds chopped

For the chickpeas:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch*
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

For the dressing:

  • cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • *The cornstarch helps the chickpeas get nice and crispy. You can make the recipe without it, but they won’t be nearly as crispy.


  • In a medium pot, add the quinoa and ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes or until cooked through and water has evaporated. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  • Add chickpeas to a kitchen towel and dry them as best you can. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the cornstarch.
  • To make the chickpeas, in a large skillet (cast-iron is best) over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chickpeas, spread out into an even layer, and cook, undisturbed, for about 5-7 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Give them a stir and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the spices, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, kale, cucumber, carrot, herbs, and dried cherries. Toss with about ½ of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed.
  • Serve the salad topped with feta (if using), crispy chickpeas, and toasted nuts.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Cook ½ cup quinoa
  • Prep kale, carrot, cucumber
  • Make dressing
  • Make chickpeas (best fresh out of the pan!)
  • Toast ½ cup almonds
  • Chop ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • Salad can be made ahead! Recommend making the chickpeas to serve.


  • Use any combination of raw crunchy veg in place of the carrot and cucumber
  • Not into chickpeas? Try it with a different legume! 
  • Serve with grilled chicken, steak, or fish for a heartier, meaty option
  • Skip the cornstarch, but they won’t be as crispy
  • Tapioca or arrowroot starch can be substituted for cornstarch


  • Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Store leftover chickpeas in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Chickpeas won’t be as crispy as leftovers. You can crisp them up again in the pan or the oven. Or just reheat in the microwave.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon and some fresh herbs to the leftover salad. Warm up the chickpeas in the microwave, stove, or oven.

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