Canned Chickpeas Are All You Need To Bulk Up Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is the ultimate throw-together picnic fare, summer meal staple, and essential in any deli case. And what would a coastal grandmother (if you know you know) aesthetic be without it? Beloved for its versatility, ease, and of course, deliciousness, pasta salads can be remixed in just about any way you can imagine. The basic format of pasta, veggies, brininess from capers, olives, or pepperoncinis, and a dressing practically begs to be reimagined with endless additions

The main thing pasta salad sometimes lacks is a protein source, so one way to elevate the classic dish is with the addition of canned chickpeas. An easy, inexpensive pantry item most of us have on hand at all times, the legume adds some unexpected flavor and health benefits like fiber and protein (an impressive 14.7 grams of protein per cup). Because of their inherently mild flavor, chickpeas can be seasoned and prepared to work in just about any type of pasta salad on the menu. Next time you're mixing up your favorite recipe, try incorporating this source of inexpensive, plant-based protein to round out the dish.

For maximum flavor, marinate and roast before adding

To keep things easy, you can totally open up a can of chickpeas, rinse, and toss right in. But to add a crispy bite to the salad, consider marinating and lightly roasting. Mix up a simple marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and herbs and let chickpeas bathe in the liquid for 30 minutes or even longer (you can let them sit overnight if you want to prep ahead). In a rush? Simply drizzle the chickpeas with olive oil plus some salt and pepper and roast on a baking tray in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes or until golden and crispy but not burnt. 

The addition of chickpeas lends a Mediterranean-inspired flare, so add the legume to an Italian-inspired pasta salad recipe with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives. Or let your cravings be your guide — with their mild nutty flavor, chickpeas are a simple addition that levels up any pasta salad recipe.