Mediterranean Chickpea Bowls with Tahini Sauce
Mediterranean Chickpea Bowls with Tahini Sauce

While I love all the various flavors and spices found in Mediterranean food, one of the things I find that like most about this cuisine is the way textures, colors, and even temperatures are often combined a single dish.

I’ve made these vegan and gluten-free bowls in this same spirit. They showcase some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients all in one bowl, like spiced chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, and tahini, as well as an awesome mix of hot and cold, crisp and creamy!

One of my favorite parts of this dish is really the bright and creamy tahini sauce. We make this sauce on a regular basis at my house. It’s great drizzled on fresh greens, roasted veggies, or baked sweet potatoes, too!

Once you get the hang of the dressing, you might find yourself craving it often. If so, try mixing it up with different spices. (I particularly love it with turmeric, which makes the dressing extra-tasty and turns it a beautiful shade of gold!)

If you’re into batch cooking or need some easy make-ahead meals for later in the week, I highly recommend prepping the ingredients for these bowls at the beginning of the week. You can bask in the glory of beautiful and vibrant packed lunches at the office all week long!

Ingredients

For the tahini dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • Juice 1/2 to 1 lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey, agave, or maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the chickpeas:

  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas (or 2 cups homemade chickpeas)
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika (either sweet or hot)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh chili (optional)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (I like the combination of parsley, mint, and cilantro)

For the bowls:

  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Fresh mint leaves

1 Make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk tahini with 2 tablespoons of the warm water, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, honey, minced garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Give the dressing a taste. Add salt if needed. If it needs more acid or tastes slightly bitter, add more lemon juice one teaspoon at a time. If the dressing is too thick, add more water a tablespoon at a time.

Dressing can be made several days ahead and kept refrigerated. You may need to allow it to warm slightly at room temperature (or very briefly in the microwave) to loosen it up before using.

2 Warm the chickpeas: Drain chickpeas and rinse well in a colander. Rub the chickpeas gently with a clean, lint-free towel to dry, or let them air dry for about 10 minutes. When dry, toss the chickpeas in a mixing bowl with the paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and mix until well-coated.

Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on contact. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and tilt the pan to evenly coat.

Immediately add the chickpeas. Stir constantly until they are warmed through, 3 to 5 minute). Turn off heat, then add garlic and chili (if using), and mix well.

Toss with fresh herbs just before serving. (The chickpeas are best if served while still warm, but are also good if you make them ahead and serve cold.)

3 Assemble the bowls: Divide the spinach evenly between four bowls. Top each bowl with 1/2 cup of the brown rice, 1/2 cup warm chickpeas, a quarter of the tomatoes, a quarter of the cucumber, and a quarter of the red onion. Drizzle with tahini dressing, and top with fresh mint leaves.

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