Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac (and Ideas for Using Sumac)

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
It's the Sumac that really makes this Chickpea Salad something special!

When you read Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac, I"m hoping it's the word Sumac that jumps out at you.  If you're not familiar with it, Sumac is a middle eastern spice made from the dried berry-like fruit of some species of the Sumac plant.  (Don't confuse it with the invasive Sumac that grows wild in some places and causes a skin reaction similar to poison ivy; this is a different variety of Sumac.)  I had known about Sumac for years, but when a reader sent me a great recipe for Fattoush a few years ago I learned the trick of mixing Sumac into the dressing for a flavor boost that's really delightful, and I've been using it that way ever since.  (Sumac is also an ingredient in Za'atar, and you could substitute that in this recipe if you have it.)

This salad with chickpeas, roasted red peppers, capers, and mint seemed to me like it was meant to have Sumac, and adding it to the chickpeas when they were sauteed and then to the dressing was the main change I made to the inspiring recipe for Spanish Chickpea Salad found on The Taste Space (a blog where I see lots of tasty-sounding dishes.)  Of course it didn't hurt that I love roasted red peppers, capers, and mint, and you can certainly make the salad without Sumac, but I highly recommend getting some if you don't have it on hand.  You can buy Sumac online from The Spice House if you can't find it in your town.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Rinse 2 cans of chickpeas and let them drain.  (Rinsing removes some of the gas-producing starches from the beans!)

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Then saute the chickpeas in olive oil, with a teaspoon of Sumac stirred in.  Cook until all the chickpeas are golden brown.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Of course this salad would be spectacular with freshly roasted red peppers if you have the time, but I used a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, drained well.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Chop the peppers into small bite-sized pieces.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Whisk together the lemon juice, caper juice, ground sumac, salt, minced garlic, and olive oil to make the dressing.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
When chickpeas have cooled, combine the sauteed chickpeas, red pepper strips, chopped mint, and capers.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Then stir in enough dressing so all the salad ingredients are lightly moistened.  You can serve the salad right away or let it marinate in the refrigerator for a day or even overnight.

Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac found on
Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac
(Makes about 6 servings; recipe adapted from Spanish Chickpea Salad at The Taste Space.)

2 cans chickpeas (15.5 oz. can, or use about 4 cups freshly cooked chickpeas)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. ground Sumac
(or could substitute Za'atar if you have that but not Sumac)
12 oz. jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
(or use 3 red peppers and roast them yourself)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (more or less, to taste)
3 T capers (can be rinsed if you prefer)

Dressing Ingredients:
2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. caper brine (from the jar)
1 tsp. ground Sumac
(or could substitute Za'atar if you have that but not Sumac)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Put chickpeas into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water until no more foam appears.  Let chickpeas drain well, or pat dry with a paper towel if you want to speed it up a bit.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a large frying pan, add drained chickpeas, sprinkle with 1 tsp. ground Sumac, and saute chickpeas until they are lightly browned.  This will take about 10 minutes, turning the chickpeas several times so they get browned on all sides.  (Let chickpeas cool for 10-20 minutes before you combine them with other ingredients in the salad.)

While chickpeas are cooking, put roasted red peppers into a colander and let them drain well.  Wash mint, spin dry or dry with paper towels, and chop.  Measure 3 T capers (and rinse if desired.)   When red peppers are well drained, chop them into small bite-sized pieces.

Whisk together the lemon juice, caper juice, ground Sumac, salt, finely minced garlic, and olive oil to make the dressing.  

When chickpeas have cooled to almost room temperature, combine them with the diced roasted red pepper, chopped mint, and capers in a medium-sized salad bowl.  Stir in enough dressing to lightly moisten all ingredients.  The salad can be served immediately, or it can marinate all day or even overnight in the fridge.

South Beach Suggestions:
Everything in this salad is a low-glycemic ingredient that would be approved for the South Beach Diet.  However, dried beans are limited to 1/3 - 1/2 cup serving for phase one.  Since this salad has other ingredients besides the beans, you could have a slightly larger portion than that, but I would definitely serve this as a side dish salad for phase one.  I think this would be great with something like Souvlaki for a phase one dinner, or serve it with something like Spicy Grilled Eggplant for a vegetarian meal.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight using The Glycemic Index partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

Ten More Tasty Recipe Ideas for Using Sumac:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Ottolenghi's Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta, and Sumac from David Lebovitz
Fattoush (Lebanese "Crumbled Bread" Salad) from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lebanese Sumac Chicken from Apple Pie, Patis, and Pate
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Feta and Sumac from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sumac-Dusted Oven Fries from The Kitchn
Garbanzo Bean (Chickpea) Soup with Garlic, Sumac, Olive Oil, and Lemon from Kalyn's Kitchen
Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Almonds with Sumac from eCurry
Mediterranean Lettuce Salad with Purslane and Sumac-Lemon Vinaigrette from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lentil Soup with Sumac and Lemon from Opera Girl Cooks
Black-Eyed Pea Hummus with Olive Oil and Sumac from Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosures:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

I do know the owner of The Spice House, but they aren't compensating me in any way for mentioning them, I just love their products!
 counter customizable free hit


  1. Kalyn, is this the recipe for the side you showed with the grilled mahi mahi a few days ago? It looks similar, and I've been looking forward to finding out what that was because it looked so good!

    I've also found sumac at Penzeys, in case people are looking for additional sources.

  2. Julie, you are pretty sharp! Yes, I served this on the side with Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lemon and Capers. Thanks for the reminder to go there and add a link, because someone else asked about it.

    And thanks for the reminder about Penzeys too. Did you know that the owner of The Spice House and Penzeys are brother and sister? I haven't met Bill Penzeys, but I met Patricia Penzey Ord at the store and she talked to me again at IAC in Austin.

  3. I've never cooked with sumac. I will have to check it out. I understand it's got such an ancient history. I'm a fan of anything with chick peas.

  4. T.W., I am just crazy about Sumac. If you're had Za'atar, it's the main ingredient in that. I bet you'd love it.

  5. I recently purchased both Sumac, and Za'atar, but had not used either one yet. Problem solved, as I love anything chickpea, so thanks for the motivation.

  6. Next time I'm at Penzey's I'll have to pick up some sumac. I do have zaatar, but am curious about sumac. This salad sounds like it would be really good served warm or room temperature.

  7. Jeanette, I do think this would be good slightly warm. You will love Sumac, I promise!

  8. I don't know why some comments take so long to come to my e-mail, but truly I am not ignoring people! Eggplant43, glad I can inspire you to try them.

  9. These look so delicious- I am a huge fan of chic peas and always looking for new ways to cook them!


  10. I bought some sumac earlier this year and haven't done very much with it! I still need to make your sweet potato hummus with it, but when I do, this dish is coming along for the ride!

  11. oh my... Stunning photos, great recipe and I am just pondering doubling up, serving the side dish and then simply whipping things in a blender till you have a dip!

    Pass the pita bread

  12. Thanks for the shout-out! Glad you enjoyed it and I like your twist. :)

    This is a great dish and will definitely have to try it with sumac. If you don't have sumac, though, this is still a great dish.

  13. Joanne, I'm positive you'll become a Sumac fan when you try it!

    Dave, I think that's a great idea.

    Janet, I have no doubt. And I love your blog!

  14. I love chickpeas and this salad is loaded with flavor. Great recipe Kalyn!

  15. Sumac has such a great flavor--so tart and refreshing. Great recipe, Kalyn!

  16. Maria, me too. I can't figure out why some people don't really like them!

    Thanks Judith. I am crazy over Sumac!!

  17. Lovely combination Kalyn. In the past I always used dried chick peas and went through the process of soaking and cooking. Resulting in we ate less chickpeas as it needed planning ahead. (something I'm not good at;) Following your lead and using canned chickpeas we eat them more often.

    I has sumac in my pantry when we lived in NZ but haven't bought any here yet. You have reminded me to look for it now.

  18. Barbara, I do agree that the ones you cook yourself are a tiny bit better, but as you said, it's so hard to plan that far ahead. Fun hearing that Sumac really is used all over the world!

  19. What do you mean with caper juice? I will use bottled capers. Do you mean the liquid from the bottle or actual caper juice?

  20. Karen, yes I mean the brine from the bottle of capers. Good catch though, I will edit to make it more clear. Thanks!

  21. I know what I'm packing for lunch in a few days! Although I'm not vegan just vegetarian, I love making completely veggie meals. It's affordable and yummy. Nice work.

  22. Hillary, I loved it. I'm not a vegetarian, but I am trying to eat a lot more meatless meals these days.

  23. I love chickpeas and this salad sounds like it would be a great side dish! Definitely going to have to find some sumac spice =)

  24. Peggy, I am craaaaazy about Sumac. If you like lemon you'll love it.

  25. I certainly noticed the sumac, but was most intrigued by the sauteed part - what a great way to prepare a chickpea salad!

  26. Cara, I do think sauteeing the chickpeas really bumped up the flavor!


Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

Comments don't appear on the blog until they're approved by me, so no need to try again if you don't see it! Feel free make your signature a link to your site if you're a blogger, but links posted within the body of the comment will never be published.

Blogging tips