Chickpea Shawarma Salad
This vegan chickpea shawarma salad is jam-packed with flavour and nutrition. Enjoy this as a hearty plant-based meal the whole family will love. This recipe is gluten-free, sugar-free and easily customizable.
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern preparation of meat such as lamb, chickpea, beef or mutton, cut in thin slices and stacked on a vertical rotisserie. I’m sure you’ve seen them it in action before. Shawarma is usually served with toppings like tabouleh, tahini, pita, pickles and hummus.
We’re plant-based around here so instead of using animals for this shawarma dish, we’ll be using chickpeas!
Here’s what I used in these chickpea bowls. I’ve included a list of subs and swaps below in case you want to switch things up.
- Shawarma chickpeas. To make the chickpeas, you’ll need 3 cups of cooked chickpeas, or two 15 oz cans drained and rinsed and a variety of Middle Eastern spices to create the shawarma flavour.
- Veggies. The base of the salad is massaged kale and chopped cucumbers, tomato, parsley add more flavour and bulk. You can play around with more additions like olives, roasted potato, diced or roasted red pepper or avocado.
- Pickled red onions. One of my favourite toppings at donair shops is the pickled turnips. For this recipe, instead of turnips, we’re going with pickled red onion. These add the same tangy flavour and are easy to make in under 30 minutes. See below for how to make them.
- Pita. Serving these bowls with pita is optional but who doesn’t love a good slab of pita to load up with chickpeas, veggies and tahini sauce.
- Tahini lemon dressing. The salad is finished off with a simple lemon tahini dressing made from tahini, lemon, garlic powder, maple syrup and water. You can also do a hummus dressing by mixing hummus with a bit of water and lemon.
Recipe Swaps and Additions
Here are some ideas for making this your own:
- add roasted potatoes or potato wedges
- add roasted cauliflower
- make a hummus dressing instead of tahini lemon sauce
- adding quinoa tabouleh or hemp seed tabouleh
- try additional toppings like avocado, roasted red peppers, pickled turnips, roasted beets or potato, kalmata olives, black olives or hemp seeds
- for some crunch, use baked pita chips instead of soft pita
- add a scoop of brown rice, quinoa, barley or farro for a heartier dish
How to Make Pickled Red Onions
Pickled red onions are easy to make in about 30 minutes. Well, like 2 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of wait time, so it’s really easy! All you need to make them is sugar, salt and vinegar. Here’s how:
- Slice a red onion into rings and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over them so they’re all covered and let them soak for 10 minutes. Drain.
- Add the drained red onions to a jar or container, cover with vinegar and add 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt and if desired, a couple cloves of garlic.
- Let them sit for 30 minutes up to overnight and enjoy! They can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in a sealed container.
Pickled onions are great on salads and bowls, in wraps and sandwiches, as a side to tofu scramble or on top of avocado toast. I love including a batch with my weekly meal prep so I always have some ready to go.
This recipe is sure to be a new favourite! The shawarma chickpeas are flavourful and addictive and you will love them paired with tangy, pickled red onion, kale, tomato, cucumber, parsley and lemon tahini sauce.
This bowl is quite easy to make and easily customizable so there’s no need to follow the recipe exactly. You can adjust it based on your preference and nutritional needs by swapping out the veggies, adding quinoa tabouleh or hemp seed tabouleh or a big dollop of hummus.
More Healthy Salads
Loving this shawarma bowl? Check these out too:
- Brown Rice and Tempeh Bowl
- Mediterranean Farro Salad
- Quinoa Tabouleh Bowls
- Thai Chopped Salad with Tofu
Chickpea Shawarma Salad
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free
If you love shawarma, you’ll love this healthy, satisfying chickpea salad! Full of flavour and nutrition, this is salad does not disappoint.
For the Shawarma Chickpeas
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 15 oz cans drained and rinsed)
- 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp each coriander, garlic powder, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, salt and pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes if you want it spicy!
For the Salad
- 1 cup chopped kale per serving (plus a little olive oil for massaging)
- 1/4 cup diced cucumber per serving
- 1/4 cup diced tomato per serving
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley per serving
- a few tbsp pickled onions per serving (see notes)
- pita for serving, optional
For the Tahini Lemon Sauce
- 5 tbsp tahini (75 g)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- water to adjust consistency
- Prepare the pickled red onion if you haven’t already.
- Massage the kale with 1/2 tsp of olive oil to soften. Set aside.
- Chop the cucumber, tomato and parsley.
- Whisk the tahini sauce ingredients together until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, lemon and spices and heat through, about 5-10 minutes.
- While they’re cooking, divide the kale, chopped veggies and pickled onions between 4 bowls or containers. Divide the chickpeas between each bowl then top each with tahini sauce. Serve with pita and if desired, hummus.
To make pickled red onions, thinly slice a red onion and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over it, enough to cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain. Add the onion to a jar with enough vinegar to cover, add 2 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt. They’ll be ready to eat in about 30 minutes (less is fine, just won’t be as flavourful) and can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Hummus and olives are good in this salad too.
The chickpeas and tahini sauce make enough for 4 salads. Adjust the salad ingredients accordingly for however many servings you are making.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 380
- Fat: 20 g
- Carbohydrates: 40 g
- Fiber: 13 g
- Protein: 16 g
Keywords: shawarma salad, shawarma chickpea salad, easy, healthy, plant-based, vegetarian
We made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing. I usually don’t enjoy Tahini Dressing but yours was fantastic! I added some seasoned, fried potatoes. Hope you are putting tighter a cookbook soon!!!
Making sure I take the time to give feedback on this recipe as it is HANDS DOWN one of the best things I’ve ever made and eaten at home. I am normally a roasted chickpea girl but THIS SPICE MIX made even a non-roasted chickpea taste amazing. As some of the other comments have said, the dressing really was the best tahini dressing I’ve made and I’ve made a lot. I added some falafel to it too. I will definitely be making a lot more! Thank you for a wonderful “outside of the box” vegan recipe!
Oh wow, thank you, Jana! That’s so kind and I’m so happy you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review, it’s so appreciated.
This salad is incredibly flavorful and filling. I shelled the chickpeas which might have taken away from the fiber. The pickled onions were a great “cherry on top.” Salty, acidic, umami, and slightly sweet with the shawarma spices. Will be making again!
Thank you so much, Rachel!
What green can you recommend instead of kale?
Spinach, argula, mixed salad greens. Kale works well if you plan on having leftovers as it doesn’t get soggy like spinach or another lighter green but you can use any green you like really.
Could you use honey instead of maple syrup?
Made the salad for dinner last night! Absolutely love it! So fragrant and tasty! Making it again tonight.
Amazing flavour and you are correct- the pickled onions are awesome! I’ve made this a few times and it never disappoints (even the non-vegans in my house).
How far ahead can the dressing be made and stored?
The dressing can be made up to 5 days in advance. It will thicken a bit in the fridge so you can adjust with a bit of water if needed.