The Crunchy Homemade Topping I’m Adding to Salads, Soups, and More

published Nov 11, 2022
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Chopped chickpeas seasoned and roasted in the oven
Credit: Cory Fernandez
Crispy Chickpea Topping

There are a lot of different ways to top a salad. Whether you look forward most to a creamy dressing, crunchy nuts, or crispy French’s fried onions (they’re not just for green bean casserole, by the way!), the toppers are arguably the easiest component to get creative with.

Justine Doiron, a chef and influencer who’s also known for helping popularize the famous butter board, recently posted a video on TikTok demonstrating a tasty homemade topping for salads.

In the video, Doiron sprinkles what at first appears to be crispy toasted breadcrumbs or chopped peanuts on a shredded Brussels sprout salad. A few seconds into the video, though, I realized that the topping was made from chickpeas! Doiron first pulses the chickpeas in a food processor to give them a coarse breadcrumb-like texture, then mixes them with salt, za’atar, and a lot of olive oil, before roasting them in the oven. The result is a super-crunchy topper that adds a perfect textural element to the salad.

I was eager to try this simple hack at home and luckily I had some chickpeas, olive oil, and salt on hand. I drained and rinsed the chickpeas and patted them dry with a paper towel before adding them to the food processor.

Here’s the most crucial part: Be sure to not over-process the chickpeas — you want a texture that’s crumbly and not pasty. I found that no more than three quick pulses in the food processor was the magic spot.

Because I didn’t have za’atar on hand, I used a mixture of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and a small pinch of red pepper flakes. When the mixture came together, I simply spread it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roasted it in the oven at 475 ˚F until the chickpeas were crunchy and slightly browned, about 25 minutes.

I’ll definitely be making these crunchy chickpea crumbles again to use as a topper for salads, soups, pastas, or even just a quick snack!