Chickpeas Salad


(“Ceci all’Insalata” - “’Nzalata ri Ciciri”)


Because chickpeas grow abundantly in Sicily it was considered staple food for the laborers and the peasants in the countryside.
In Sicily chickpeas are also known as “calia” meaning toasted which is what calia  is: toasted chickpeas. Long before pretzels and potato chips were around, calia  was sold by street vendors and in Palermo is a preferred healthy and fulfilling snack. 
Because chickpeas are nutritious and fulfilling, they are chosen food for persons with high blood sugar because they metabolize slowly and they are also selected in special diets and to control body weight.
In Sicilian cooking chickpeas are used extensively and are liked for their faint nut taste and the firm consistency; used in salads, soups or as a side dish and ground in flour, to make the panelle. 
Chickpeas are mostly available dried or canned. The dried chickpeas have to be soaked overnight and cooked between 1 ½ to 2 hours, the canned chickpeas are very convenient and ready to use. Buy a good brand and you will appreciate that they are cooked to perfection while retaining their quality and nutritional value.  
Very ease to prepare: open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse. Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and your contorno, the side dish is ready!


Serves 4




  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ medium size red onion, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of your preferred vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic (Optional)
  • Few pinches of hot red pepper flakes (Optional)



In a bowl combine chickpeas and onions, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, if you like, the hot red pepper flakes, the garlic and toss well.


By adding hearts of celery, tomatoes, olives, fennel, string beans, beans and any other vegetables in season, you can enhance the taste of this salad. 
To transform this dish into a complete meal “un piatto unico” add sliced boiled eggs, cold cuts or leftover steaks, chunks of soft cheese, or canned tuna fish.
Use your fantasy and what is available in your refrigerator and pantry, and increase the amount of dressing accordingly.