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A 5-minute fast lunch idea! This simple chickpea salad is easy to throw together: the perfect healthy plant based desk lunch or quick fix dinner.

Simple chickpea salad
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Ready for one of our best quick fix meals? This simple chickpea salad. Some people might say it’s not even a recipe. Well, over here we’ve got fancy recipes like sourdough bread and the perfect margherita pizza. But just as important are non-recipes like what Alex and I eat for lunch every day. Making “real” recipes, and throwing together a 5 minute fast lunch are equally as valid! So how to eat a plant based lunch without spending hours on meal prep? How to make a quick dinner out of nothing? It starts with a can of chickpeas.

How to make a healthy lunch in 5 minutes

How to make a healthy lunch in 5 minutes

This simple chickpea salad is what Alex eats for lunch on the regular. (I often make our best oatmeal, but I like this too!) It’s so easy to make that it’s more like an idea than a recipe. But we wanted to share it with you because it’s a lifesaver and illustrates one idea for what it means to eat plant based at lunch. Here’s how to make a fresh healthy, filling plant based lunch: this Mediterranean-style chickpea salad! Exact quantities are in the recipe below — scroll down!

  • Chickpeas: Drain a can of chickpeas, then rinse it.
  • Bell Pepper: Dice a bell pepper (about a handful).
  • Cucumber: Dice an English cucumber (about a handful). We like using an English cucumber because it doesn’t need to be peeled. If all you can find is a standard cucumber, peel it first!
  • Seasonings: Place it all in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and smoked paprika.

That’s it! Chickpea salad complete. Place it in a sealed container and to bring to the office: refrigerate until serving! The recipe below has all the exact quantities. Once you get comfortable with it, you won’t even need to measure. And remember that instead of bell pepper and cucumber, you can use any veggies in your fridge.

Desk lunch ideas

Step it up: add herbs or other spices!

There are endless variations to this simple chickpea salad! Once you’ve made the original concept, you can dress it up in new ways. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Torn or chopped herbs: If you have them onhand, the best is adding fresh herbs! Chopped or torn parsley, basil, dill, oregano, or thyme would all be excellent.
  • Celery seed: Alex likes to add a little complexity by adding a pinch of celery seed.
  • Dijon mustard: A tiny squirt of Dijon mustard would add good complexity as well.
  • Onion power, garlic powder, Italian seasoning or Greek seasoning: Add just a pinch of any of these spices for a little boost.

Our readers are so creative: you’re always letting us know the ways you’ve customized our recipes. What else would you add?

Simple chickpea salad

What to serve with simple chickpea salad

This simple chickpea salad recipe is designed as a one serving healthy lunch recipe. Yep, that’s a whole can of chickpeas in a serving, to give you a mega boost of plant-based protein! Or you could eat it as two servings and add some sides. You can also serve it as a side salad (it’s one of our favorite vegan salad recipes). If you’re serving for lunch, here are some ideas for what to pair with it:

  • Crackers: store bought, or these almond crackers are tasty and full of protein
  • Pita bread: Accesorize with pita triangles or other flat bread
  • Hummus: OK, it’s more with chickpeas! But eat half the salad, and accessorize with pita & hummus.
  • Veggies: Add carrot sticks or bell pepper strips on the side.
  • Dried fruit & nuts: Add some roasted salted almonds and dried fruit, like apricots or cherries.
  • Fresh fruit: Grapes, green apple slices, or a peach in the summer would be fantastic.
Simple chickpea salad

Make it a quick fix dinner!

What should I eat instead of takeout? This simple chickpea salad! This one is for when you just got home from work and you’re starving. This salad is done in 5 minutes and is a healthy whole food plant based (WFPB) dinner option. Takeout, on the other hand, takes longer (30 minutes?) and is probably no so healthy. You be the judge! Here’s what we’d imagine serving with it to make it a dinner:

  • Rice, quinoa, or another whole grain. Use whatever you have leftover! Or whip up a pot of white rice or quinoa in about 20 minutes. Even faster? Couscous cooks in 10 minutes.
  • Any veggies! Throw the chickpea salad in a bowl with rice or quinoa and any raw veggies you’re trying to use up. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Dollop with hummus or a sauce! A creamy sauce is nice if you have some hummus in the fridge, or our best tahini sauce is pretty fast.

Of course, there are a million ways to turn it into dinner. What would you do?

This simple chickpea salad recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Simple chickpea salad

Simple Chickpea Salad (5 Minute Lunch!)

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 – 2 1x


A 5-minute fast lunch idea! This simple chickpea salad is easy to throw together: the perfect healthy plant based desk lunch or quick fix dinner.


  • 15-ounce can chickpeas (or 1 ½ cups cooked)
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup English cucumber, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch celery seed or fresh torn herbs (parsley, dill, basil, etc), optional


  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  2. Dice the bell pepper. Chop the cucumber (peel it if you’re using a standard cucumber; English cucumber doesn’t need to be peeled).
  3. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients. Taste and add salt as desired.
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Tahira P. says:

    Such a quick and easy recipe! I added most of the recommended extras since I like a lot of flavor although I think I’d go a bit lighter on the smoked paprika next time since it overpowered the other flavors a bit. I also topped with crumbled feta for extra complexity and texture. Will definitely be making this again and again – perfect for a quick summertime lunch!

  2. Alison says:

    I’d love to make this for a Passover Seder, could I make this ahead of time? If so, do you think 2 days before is too far ahead?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I wouldn’t add the vegetables ahead, but you could mix up the rest.

  3. SUSAN REDDING says:

    OMG! What a great recipe. I’ve never eaten chickpeas before but knowing that they are cheap and healthy, I wanted to give them a try. I had celery and a red bell pepper in the fridge, so they were my veggies. I had no paprika, so I just put the chickpeas together with the veggies and red wine and oil and some kosher salt and it was perfect. A new staple!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! We make this is or something similar a few times a week too :)