Summer chopped salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and crispy chickpea “croutons”

Summer chopped salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and crispy chickpea “croutons”

With the blistering heat of summer days, eating light becomes a necessity… and easy one-stop salads are the answer!

Today’s chopped salad is a perfect example of the kind of meal I love to serve during the summer months – flavor-packed, refreshing and easy to digest, yet hearty enough to leave you entirely satisfied.

Here romaine leaves are tossed with red bell pepper, sweet corn, avocados and a creamy cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Then the salad is topped with crispy pan-fried chickpeas – a nutritious and most delicious alternative to the traditional bread croutons.

Serve as a starter or as an entree salad. It’s hearty enough to keep you going through long summer afternoons.

As a first course, this recipe serves four generous portions. But if you’re like me and want to make a meal of it, then the recipe serves two.

Here’s to hot summer days… and one-stop salads!

Crispy chickpea "croutons"

Food & wine pairing: Northeast Italy, Ribolla Gialla with summer chopped salad

White wine iconThe region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in Northeast Italy, is famous for its unusual whites – especially Ribolla Gialla. This ancient grape turns out wines that are savory, opulent and richly layered – a perfect match to this summer chopped salad. Alternatively, pour a Sauvignon Blanc from a warmer region, like California. These wines have a rich mouthfeel and tropical notes that pair wonderfully with the cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

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Cilantro-lime vinaigrette

Summer chopped salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and crispy chickpea “croutons”

serves 4 as a first course or 2 as a main course
active time: 40 min

For the vinaigrette

  1. 1 oz (28 g) cilantro leaves (1 cup tightly packed)
  2. 1 tablespoon pine nuts or blanched almonds
  3. 1 large garlic clove – skinned
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  5. 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the chickpea “croutons”

  1. 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  2. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  3. 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  4. 1 cup cooked chickpeas – drained
  5. olive oil for pan-frying
  6. sea salt to taste

For the salad

  1. 8 oz (225 g) romaine lettuce leaves (1/2 large head of lettuce)
  2. 1 large red bell pepper
  3. 2 large ears sweet corn
  4. 1 ripe (but still firm) avocado

  1. Step 1:camera icon To make the vinaigrette – Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until creamy, about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl once. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Step 2:camera icon To make the chickpea “croutons” – Place the cornmeal, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Stir until well blended. Add the chickpeas and stir until well coated. Transfer to a medium-meshed sieve and shake until the excess cornmeal has been sifted. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to reach 1/4″ up the sides of the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the chickpeas. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the chickpeas are a deep golden color, stirring them a couple of times so they cook evenly. Scoop the chickpeas out with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside.
  3. Cook’s note: The chickpeas can be made up to 30 minutes ahead of time. They will lose their crispness if allowed to stand for a longer period.
  4. Step 3:camera icon Cut the romaine leaves crosswise in 1/2″ strips, then lengthwise in 1/2″ pieces. Place in a large bowl. Quarter the red pepper, remove the seeds and cut in 1/4″ cubes. Shuck the corn and slice the kernels off the cob. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and peel each half. Then cut in 1/4″ pieces. Add the pepper, corn and avocado pieces to the lettuce. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss until well coated. Transfer to a serving platter, top with the chickpea “croutons” and serve immediately.

Summer chopped salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and crispy chickpea “croutons”

salad, chickpeas, avocado


  1. This looks delish. What is the function of the cornmeal on the chickpeas? We are gluten/corn free and I am wondering what I can sub?

    • Viviane Bauquet Farre

      Hi Christie! The cornmeal makes the chickpeas extra crispy. You could replace it with rice flour. Enjoy!

  2. Absolutely light and salad is the norm in this heat! Beautiful salad and I just love the idea of making ‘croutons’ with chickpeas!

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