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Chickpea Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds

The perfect combination of chickpea salad and broccoli salad, this Chickpea Broccoli Salad boasts big flavors! Featuring fresh blueberries, red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and feta cheese, this fresh and simple salad is the perfect chilled summer side dish. 

Big white bowl of broccoli chickpea salad with a gold spoon and a bowl of sunflower seeds.

After making and loving The Best Broccoli Salad recipe and my Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, I got the wise idea to combine the two forces into one amazing, healthy salad recipe.

The concept behind this delicious side dish is simple. We’re taking all the fresh and delicious trappings of classic broccoli salad and mixing it up with some additional whacky ingredients like garbanzo beans, fresh blueberries, and feta cheese.

It may seem rowdy, and that’s because it is.

For all your warm weather or summer barbecues picnics, or gatherings involving food, this easy chickpea broccoli salad recipe is a true gem.

Loaded with big flavors and all sorts of textures, we’re getting a huge infusion of nutrients and the perfect pairing to any main dish.

I love that you can find the wholesome ingredients at any grocery story and that the salad is a nice source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber.

Let’s discuss the simple ingredients for this fresh and funky chickpea broccoli salad.

Ingredients for Chickpea Broccoli Salad:

Fresh Broccoli: One of the co-stars of the show here, a large crown of broccoli gets chopped into small florets to make delicious broccoli salad.

Garbanzo Beans: Canned garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, take the stage alongside broccoli for a healthy nutrient-packed side dish. If you cook beans from dry instead of using canned beans, you’ll need just under 2 cups worth of cooked beans.

Red Onion: Bringing a big blast of flavor to the salad, a little red onion goes a long way in intensifying flavor and making a salad taste remarkably fresh. If you prefer green onions over red onions, feel free to make the switch.

Fresh Blueberries and Dried Cranberries: Both fresh blueberries and dried cranberries bring sweetness, tanginess and fun texture to the salad. I like adding them for the sweetness in order to complete the full spectrum of flavors. Feel free to omit either one or both if you aren’t into the berry infusion.

Sunflower Seeds: Roasted sunflower seeds add the loveliest crunchy texture and nutty flavor to the salad. Feel free to swap them out for any nut or seed of your choosing.

Feta Cheese: Adding a pop of tangy creaminess, I love that feta cheese pairs nicely with all of the individual ingredients in this recipe to tie the whole thing together seamlessly.

Make it dairy-free by omitting the cheese, or swap it out for blue cheese crumbles or gorgonzola. Chopped or grated cheddar cheese works here too, although a crumbled cheese will save better.

Broccoli Salad Dressing:

The easy broccoli salad dressing here includes mayonnaise, lemon juice, honey, and sea salt. I like adding in poppy seeds for fun and unique flavor, but you can skip them if you please. 

You can also add fresh lemon zest to the dressing for even more lemon flavor.

The combination of ingredients for the dressing results in a sweet, tangy, refreshing creamy dressing. 

Close up of garbanzo bean broccoli salad, ready to serve.

Optional Additions:

  • If you have fresh herbs like fresh mint, fresh parsley, or fresh basil, feel free to chop up 2 to 4 tablespoons worth and add it in.
  • Add raw or roasted pumpkin seeds or almonds for even more nutty flavor.
  • If you have leftover cooked ham, cube it up and toss it in!
  • Cook up 4 to 6 slices of thick-cut bacon, chop it up and toss it in.
  • Add in half of a chopped bell pepper if you’d like.
  • Turn it into a grain salad by adding two cups of cooked brown rice.
  • ​Replace the honey with pure maple syrup for a vegan broccoli chickpea salad.
  • Use green onion in addition to or instead of red onion.
  • If you prefer mayo-free dressings, whip up my Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette with some extra-virgin olive oil. Tahini dressing is a great mayo-free replacement as well!
  • Mince up a couple fresh cloves garlic and add them to the dressing if you love garlic flavor.

Now that we’re familiar with the fresh main ingredients, let’s make chickpea broccoli salad.

How to Make Chickpea Broccoli Salad:

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside until ready to use.

Broccoli salad dressing in a measuring cup.

Rinse the crown of broccoli very well then place broccoli on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to chop it into small florets.

Transfer the broccoli florets to a large mixing bowl or a salad bowl.

Note: if you prefer very small pieces of broccoli, you can pulse the broccoli in a food processor to shred it finely.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander. Add them to the large bowl with the broccoli.

Add in the rest of the ingredients for the broccoli salad (blueberries, dried cranberries, red onion, sunflower seeds and feta cheese).

Broccoli, chickpeas, red onion, sunflower seeds, blueberries and dried cranberries in a red mixing bowl.

Pour all of the dressing into the bowl with the salad ingredients and toss everything together until well-combined.

Pouring salad dressing over the broccoli salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Taste the salad for flavor and add more sea salt, black pepper, or fresh lemon juice to your personal taste.

Broccoli chickpea salad mixed up in a mixing bowl, ready to serve.

Serve this chickpea broccoli salad alongside your main entrée for a complete meal.

Store broccoli salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Use leftover chickpea broccoli salad in your green salads to add more flavor, texture, and variety!

This salad makes enough to serve up to 6 individuals when used as a side dish (versus a main dish).

You can adjust the ingredient amounts based on how many people you’re serving or how much leftover salad you want. Make this chickpea salad recipe a part of your weekday meal prep!

White serving bowl of broccoli salad with garbanzo beans and more.

If you prefer your broccoli cooked over raw, no sweat. You can easily blanch the broccoli to soften it up and take away some bitterness.

How to Blanch Broccoli:

I use raw broccoli for broccoli salads, but some folks like to blanch the broccoli first. 

To do so, bring a pot of water to a full boil and toss in the broccoli florets for 10 to 15 seconds. Immediately remove the blanched broccoli from the hot water by straining it into a colander. 

Transfer the broccoli to an ice bath to cool it quickly. Once chilled, strain the water from the broccoli and either allow it to air dry or pat it dry with a paper towel. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

The advantage to blanching the broccoli before using it in broccoli salad is twofold. First, the flash cook softens up the broccoli nicely so that it is easier to chew.

Second, cooked broccoli is easier to digest than raw broccoli, so many people find blanched broccoli salads to be easier on their digestive systems than raw.

Broccoli Chickpea Salad with sunflower seeds, blueberries, red onion and more in a white bowl

And that’s it! An easy summer salad and a healthy side dish to serve at any bbq or celebration.

If you love chilled side salads like this, also try out these reader favorites.

More Healthy Side Salads:

Chickpeas and broccoli forever!

Big white bowl of broccoli chickpea salad with a gold spoon and a bowl of sunflower seeds.
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4.52 from 50 votes

Chickpea Broccoli Salad

A refreshing healthy side dish, this chickpea broccoli salad combines all sorts of superfoods for a nutrient-dense salad. Customize it to your heart's delight and enjoy it during the warm weather months.
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Salads
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 265kcal
Author: Julia

Ingredients

  • 4 cups broccoli florets chopped (1 large crown broccoli)
  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • cup feta cheese crumbles optional

Broccoli Salad Dressing:

Instructions

  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside until ready to use.
  • Rinse the crown of broccoli very well then place broccoli on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to chop it into small florets. Transfer the broccoli florets to a large mixing bowl or a salad bowl. Note: if you prefer very small pieces of broccoli, you can pulse the broccoli in a food processor to shred it finely. Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander. Add them to the large bowl with the broccoli. Add in the rest of the ingredients for the broccoli salad (blueberries, dried cranberries, red onion, sunflower seeds and feta cheese).
  • Pour all of the dressing into the bowl with the salad ingredients and toss everything together until well-combined.
  • Taste the salad for flavor and add more sea salt, black pepper, or fresh lemon juice to your personal taste.
  • Serve this chickpea broccoli salad alongside your main entrée for a complete meal.

Video

Notes

*Replace the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt if you prefer.
**Use pure maple syrup or regular cane sugar in place of honey if you’d like.
***Or rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving (of 8) | Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 578mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 19g

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Recipe Rating




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Flyn

Friday 15th of December 2023

The flavors and textures just didn't go well together imo. I couldn't finish eating it... Followed recipe exactly.

Doreen

Friday 15th of September 2023

This was really good, although I made a few changes. No honey, but some pickle juice. We loved it. You always have great recipes. Thank you!

Julia

Monday 18th of September 2023

I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for sharing your changes, Doreen!

Denise

Monday 10th of July 2023

My dressing came out very thin & I had to add more mayo. Is it really 1/4 c mayo to 1/3 c lemon juice? I adjusted & haven't tasted the salad yet, but the little bits I've had are great! Thank you.

Julia

Monday 10th of July 2023

Hi Denise! You can definitely add more mayo to your personal preference :) I tend to like my dressings to have a lot of acidity to them, which is why I use a lot of lemon juice (or vinegar) in my dressings, but you can always thicken it up with more mayo :)

Melissa

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

I love this salad thank you for the recipe and the inspiration. I found you on Instagram. So glad I did. Thanks again

Julia

Wednesday 24th of May 2023

My pleasure, Melissa! I'm so happy you enjoy it! xo

Debbie

Friday 19th of May 2023

I'm not seeing Greek yogurt in the ingredient list, yet at the bottom where you give alternatives you say you can use more mayo for Greek yogurt. I'm trying to get more protein in, so I'd prefer the Greek yogurt. This sounds great. Looking forward to trying it.

Julia

Friday 19th of May 2023

Hi Debbie! My apologies for not including that information in the recipe card! Thank you for catching that :) You can replace the mayonnaise with 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. As an alternative, some people like to use partial yogurt and partial mayo to still get a bit of the richness from the mayo. If you decide to go this route, I would still use 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Hope you enjoy! xo

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