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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes 12 cups

Your classic chopped salad gets a boost of BBQ tang in this delicious vegan version, which adds extra substance with smoky-sweet chickpeas. Coated in a homemade spice blend and air-fried to crispy perfection, these little nuggets of flavor are amazing as a salad topper but also quite tasty on their own. The base of lettuce, corn, quinoa, tomatoes, and bell pepper is enhanced with a creamy avocado dressing that’s so good you’ll be licking the plate clean. Enjoy this colorful salad as a light lunch or serve alongside a cup of classic tomato soup to turn it into a bigger meal.

For more hearty salads, check out these tasty ideas:


  • 1 tablespoon + ⅛ teaspoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ 15-oz. cans no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained (2¼ cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • 2 cups cooled cooked tricolor quinoa
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅓ to ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. To make BBQ Spice Blend, stir together 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, the cumin, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 tablespoons.
  2. For BBQ chickpeas, preheat an air fryer to 360°F. In a medium bowl toss together chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of BBQ Spice Blend, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Place half in air fryer. Air-fry 10 to 15 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining chickpeas.
  3. In a bowl combine romaine lettuce and the next five ingredients (through red onion). In a blender combine the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, the avocado, parsley, remaining ½ teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and dry mustard, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon paprika. Cover and blend until smooth, gradually adding milk to reach drizzling consistency. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and black pepper. Top with chickpeas.

Comments (3)

(3.67 from 3 votes)
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AB3 weeks ago
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Bland and very wet – needed more salt and lemon, less almond milk

Liz3 months ago
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Takes more like 2 1/2 hours or so. It is a little bland – it needed more salt and a little more lemon in the dressing.

Jill5 months ago
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A bit bland. Will use my own spice blend next time and try to figure out how to give the dressing more flavor

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about the author

Nancy Macklin, RDN

Nancy Macklin has a bachelor of science in dietetics from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in health services administration from the University of Saint Francis. Macklin worked as a hospital-based clinical dietitian, providing counseling for diabetes, heart disease, and weight loss and as a food service director in health care dining sites. She now serves as a test kitchen dietitian, developing 500+ recipes per year. She is a member of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics and International Association of Culinary Professionals. Find her on LinkedIn.

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