Looking for a light meal that's healthy, nutritious, and packed with delicious flavors? This roasted zucchini salad with crispy chickpeas, quinoa, and a lemony dressing is perfect for the warm summer months!
This salad is both great as a main dish and amazing as a plant-based side dish to serve with grilled tofu at backyard barbecues.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Small zucchini: Their size makes them absolutely perfect for salads. But you can of course also use regular large zucchini.
- Canned chickpeas: They are a great way to add texture and protein.
- White quinoa: It makes the salad more filling and nutritious. You can use tricolored quinoa, or replace it with millet (a couscous-like, gluten-free grain).
- Spring mix: It adds an extra serving of greens.
- Dressing ingredients: You can use avocado or olive oil as a base for this dressing. For flavor, you'll need fresh basil, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Cherry tomatoes, (vegan) feta cheese, balsamic vinegar pickled onions, red peppers, and sweet corn would make great additions to this zucchini salad recipe.
- Don't cut the zucchini too thinly. You want chunky bite-sized pieces that add texture to the salad.
- Use two baking sheets: 1 for the chickpeas and 1 for the zucchini. Overcrowded baking sheets don't allow the zucchini to roast and get golden brown. Instead, they will steam and stay pale. Same for the chickpeas. You want to be able to spread them out into a single layer.
- Don't want to turn on the oven? You can totally cook the zucchini in a skillet, indoor grill pan, or on your outdoor grill. Leftover grilled zucchini from your last BBQ party would be an absolute hit, too!
- Add both lemon pulp and lemon zest to the dressing. That's what makes it really refreshing and lemony!
- To make the best and most fluffy quinoa, I recommend taking it off the heat once most of the cooking water has been absorbed. Then, cover it with a lid and let it steam for 10 more minutes.
- If you're short on time and want to serve the salad right away, you can rinse the quinoa under cold water once it's cooked.
Step-by-step instructions (with pictures)
STEP 1: Rinse the chickpeas. Run them under cold water in a fine-mesh sieve or colander. Then, pat them dry with a clean dish towel or with paper towels.
STEP 2: Roast the chickpeas. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet that you lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and garlic powder (and other seasonings if you like). Roast in a preheated oven for 10 minutes while you prepare the zucchini.
STEP 3: Cut the zucchini. Wash the small zucchini and cut them lengthwise in half, then into 0.6-inch (1,5 cm) slices. If using regular medium-large zucchini, cut them lengthwise in 4 before slicing.
STEP 4: Roast the zucchini. Add the zucchini slices to a separate parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or avocado oil and add a generous amount of coarse sea salt and Italian seasoning. Roast until golden (about 25 minutes).
Once the zucchini pieces are cooked and the chickpeas are crispy, let them cool or at least come to room temperature (10-15 minutes).
STEP 5: Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve to eliminate any dust or debris.
STEP 6: Cook the quinoa according to package directions (and see my tips above).
STEP 7: Make the dressing. Add the avocado OR olive oil, lemon juice, ¼ of a lemon (pulp + zest included) basil, cilantro, and the rest of the ingredients to a small blender jar. Blend until you obtain a smooth dressing-like consistency.
STEP 8: Assemble the salad. Add the spring mix, cooked quinoa, roasted zucchini, and crispy chickpeas to a large bowl. Toss with half of the dressing. Then, transfer to individual plates and top with more dressing.
Meal prep and storage tips
Meal prepping: This roasted zucchini salad is incredibly meal-prep-friendly as you can cook all the components ahead of time. You can either store all the ingredients separately and assemble them right before serving OR portion out the dressed salad (without chickpeas).
Storage: The dressed salad will last for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator (but only if you used olive oil for the dressing). I do recommend storing the roasted chickpeas in an airtight container on the countertop and adding them at the last minute to keep them extra crispy.
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Roasted Zucchini Salad
For the salad
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Take out two baking sheets, one for the chickpeas, and one for the zucchini.
- Chickpeas: Rinse the chickpeas, then pat them dry. Place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and garlic powder. Bake for 10 minutes on one of the upper racks while you prepare the zucchini.
- Zucchini: Wash the baby zucchini and cut them lengthwise in half, then into 0.6-inch (1,5 cm) pieces. If using regular zucchini, cut them lengthwise in 4 before slicing. Place them on the other parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and Italian seasoning. Bake for 25 minutes on a medium rack.
- Quinoa: Rinse the quinoa. Add it to a saucepan with twice the volume of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce to medium heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steam for another 10 minutes.
- Cool down: Let the roasted zucchini and chickpeas cool down for 10-15 minutes or completely. Same for the quinoa or run it under cold water.
- Dressing: Blend the olive oil, lemon juice, a whole quarter of a lemon with the pulp and the zest (seeds removed), garlic powder, and some salt until smooth.
- Assembly: Add everything to a large salad bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Then, serve on individual plates and top with more dressing.
- Don't cut the zucchini too thinly. You want bite-sized pieces that add texture to the salad.
- Leftover grilled zucchini from your last BBQ party would be great, too.
- Dressing notes: only make an avocado-based dressing if you eat the salad right away as it doesn't store well. If you're meal-prepping it or planning to have leftovers, make an olive oil-based dressing, which will keep much better.
- Meal prepping: You can cook all the components ahead of time and assemble them right before serving!
- Storage: The dressed salad will last for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I do recommend storing the roasted chickpeas in an airtight container on the countertop and adding them at the last minute to keep them extra crispy.
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