Today’s recipe is all about ZE PASTA. Don’t be afraid of the noodle people — we’re way past those days. Pasta has definitely made a big comeback and I’m not mad about it. It’s one of my go-to bases for dinner because Tony and the boys truly can’t get enough of it.
But when I whip up some noodles, you know that I ain’t making no basic chicken alfredo for dinner. (Even though chicken alfredo is actually delicious.)
Instead, I’m making pasta with allllllll the veggies, heart-healthy avocado, and of course, some jazzy lemon basil vinaigrette I dreamt up. AKA a gorgeous chickpea pasta salad like this one.
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Ingredients in chickpea pasta salad
This Mediterranean pasta salad is nutritious, full of plant-based protein (hi chickpeas) and one of my favorite recipes to bring to a party because it has SO much flavor. It’s also an amazing way to fuel up pre or post-workout and makes the best lunch because the leftovers keep well. So what’s in this magical, less than 30-minute meal?
- Your favorite pasta: I like using whole wheat Orecchiette or bowtie, but feel free to use any kind. Gluten free pasta is perfect in here, too, and I love this chickpea pasta for extra protein.
- Chickpeas: for a boost of plant-based protein in this amazing pasta dish. Grilled chicken would be delicious as well.
- Cherry tomatoes: I love the little bursts of juicy flavor that cherry or grape tomatoes add to every bite. Plus how cute are they?!
- Feta crumbles: feel free to use salty feta or a creamy goat cheese! You can also omit to keep this pasta salad vegan & dairy free.
- Red onion: add a zippy bite with thinly sliced red onion.
- Avocado: creamy avocado is the perfect complement to the zesty dressing, feta and red onion.
- Kalamata olives: feel free to add even more Mediterranean flavor with olives. Just make sure they’re pitted!
- Lemon basil vinaigrette: you’ll need fresh lemon juice, garlic, olive or avocado oil, fresh basil leaves, dried oregano, salt & pepper.
Customize this pasta salad
- Make it gluten free: simply use a gluten free pasta of choice. It’s going to be FANTASTIC anyway you do it up.
- Make it vegan: use almond milk feta or a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead, or just omit the cheese.
- Add extra protein: feel free to add some cooked, diced chicken breast. Try out these chicken marinades and throw some on the grill using my tried & true techniques!
- Switch up the veggies: I think bell pepper and chopped cucumber would also be delicious in this recipe.
Easy chickpea pasta salad in 3 steps
Make the dressing. First, make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender. You can also whisk them together in a medium bowl, but you’ll need to make sure that the basil is finely diced.
- Cook your pasta. Cook up your noodles according to the directions on the package. Al dente is best here. Once it’s done, rinse with cool water and drain, then add to a large bowl.
- Add your mix-ins. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, avocado, red onion and optional olives.
- Dress, season & devour. Fold in the lemon basil dressing and gently stir until the pasta is well combined. Season with freshly ground black pepper and torn basil leaves.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. No need to reheat! Serve it cold and garnish it with some extra basil.
What to serve with this pasta salad
- Greek Chicken Kabobs
- Seriously Good Sweet Potato Cheddar BBQ Chicken Burgers
- Spicy Maple Dijon Grilled Brussels Sprouts
- Jalapeño Curry Turkey Burgers
- Ultimate Vegan Black Bean Burgers with Creamy Tahini Garlic Sauce
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Everyone’s going to be asking you for the recipe! Tony just asked me for another serving so now you know it’s a winner.
If you make this recipe, be sure to tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram or leave a comment & rating below letting me know how you liked it. Enjoy — xo!
Avocado Tomato Chickpea Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
Gorgeous avocado tomato chickpea pasta salad packed with fresh, delicious mediterranean flavors and a bold lemon basil dressing. This easy vegetarian pasta salad recipe takes just 20 minutes to make and is perfect for parties or meal prep!
- For the pasta:
- 8 oz whole wheat or gluten free pasta (I like Orecchiette or bowtie)
- 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1 pound)
- ½ cup feta crumbles
- 1 ripe but slightly firm avocado, pitted and diced
- ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
- Optional: 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- For the vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey or sugar (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To garnish:
- Torn basil leaves
First make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender. You can also whisk them together in a medium bowl, but you'll need to make sure that the basil is finely diced. I prefer the blender method because it minces the garlic for you. Set aside the dressing until pasta is ready.
Next cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Al dente is best here. Once pasta is done, rinse with cool water and drain, then add to a large bowl.
Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, avocado, red onion and optional olives. Fold in dressing and gently stir until pasta is well combined. Season with freshly ground black pepper and torn basil leaves. Serves 6.
Nutrition information is calculated used whole wheat pasta. For a more protein rich pasta, use chickpea pasta or a bean pasta.
To make gluten free: Use a GF pasta such as brown rice pasta or chickpea pasta.
For a full meal: Add 1 pound diced, cooked chicken breast.
To make vegan: Leave off the feta and use almond milk feta or a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead, or just leave out cheese completely.
This post was originally published on August 23rd, 2017, republished on June 12th, 2020, and republished on May 29th, 2023.
This just sounds amazing!!
It is so so good!
This looks beautiful! However, I need a substitute for the tomatoes and onions. What else might work to keep the colors, flavors, fullness?
Thank you! Hmmm, you could try red pepper and then just leaving the onion out! I love this one because so many veggies would work in it.
I have made this salad at least 10 times this summer! Love it. Everyone loves it! I use baby shell pasta so the chickpeas kind of Nestle in them. Great
5 stars. In fact I made it today for a birthday lunch tomorrow. I just add the avocados right before serving. I worry they will brown up
So glad you love this one Lisa! The lemon juice helps the avocados stay fresh, but adding them before is perfect.
I could eat this pasta all summer long! It looks delicious!
It is amazing! I had it for lunch for quite a few days 🙂
I love the lemon vinaigrette dressing idea. Planning to make this salad soon.
It’s incredibly light and flavorful. I hope you enjoy it!
As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I’d make it. It has some of my favorite foods in it. It did not disappoint!
Amazing! So glad you enjoyed it.
This looks awesome, Thanks a lot
Can I make ahead and plan to eat it as lunch for the week or will it just not keep that long?
You bet! It should keep for about 3-4 days.
Would you suggest not adding the avocado in until you’re ready to eat it if you’re making it for the entire week so it stays better/doesn’t brown?? Also, if you’re making it for the whole week, should you wait to add the dressing until you’re about to eat it? Looking to meal prep this recipe for next week’s lunches! 🙂
That would be fine, or add a little lime juice to prevent browning! I like adding the dressing even for meal prepping it because it gets even more flavorful over time 🙂
oh I love avocado salad, thank’s for sharing that recipe.
Monique this salad was delicious! I am so happy to have found your site!
I’m so happy to have you here, Paula! Glad you enjoyed this one, too 🙂
Just made this! SO yummy. My boyfriend doesn’t like feta or chickpeas normally, and he loved it!!
I’m so glad you both enjoyed! This one has TONS of goods in it – I’m sure he didn’t even notice the feta or chickpeas 😉
Monique, made this Saturday morning. The lemon and basil stand out brilliantly. This is a wonderful dish.
Hi Tim! I’m so happy to hear that 🙂 Yes, love the fresh flavors that the lemon & basil add. Enjoy!
Can’t wait to make this for a summer cookout!
It’s so good!! Perfect for feeding a crew of people.
Try this salad with chickpea pasta! You’ll get more chickpea flavor and taste as well as a boost in protein and fiber! Not saying that there’s anything wrong with regular or whole wheat penne in this pasta salad, BUT it’s just an idea! Overall, this looks like a stunning recipe. I love avocados in pasta dishes. Adds the best flavor and creaminess!
I’ll have to try that! I’m sure it’s delish. And YES love avocado + pasta!
Full of health and taste thanks for shearing this recipe.
Great dish! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I added cucumbers and artichoke hearts.
You bet! Those add-ins sound delish <3
This is my new favorite pasta salad recipe! I added marinated artichoke hearts and subbed gluten free pasta and vegan cheese- delish!
Love it!! So happy to hear that!
I found that with the size of the salad ,there is not nearly enough dressing. It would be better to double it.
You can definitely double it if you’d like!
We are such big fans of this dish! I have made it for potlucks, meal prepped it for lunch, and doubled it for parties. Everything goes together super well and it’s easy to sub in whatever is left over in your fridge. Great job, Monique!
So happy to hear that Michelle! And yes, this one is great for customizing 🙂
There was something that was lacking for me. It was too onion forward and I feel like the lemon overpowered the garlic. Next time I might use less lemon and add one more garlic clove to the dressing. I’m guesssing the dressing is supposed to be a lightened pesto but all I could taste was lemon. It’s definitely a fresh pasta salad good for hot and humid days.
Hi Michelle – sorry to hear that you weren’t loving the flavors here! The dressing is more of a lemon vinaigrette rather than a pesto (I use it in leafy green salads, too) so it should leave this pasta salad with a fresh, citrus-y flavor.
What could replace the feta cheese?
Feel free to leave it out or use any crumbled cheese you’d like! Grated parmesan would also be good.
I made this today and even though I has a last minute panic because I realized I had no chickpeas, I just swapped for another bean and it turned out great!! So good, can’t wait to make it again.
Perfect! This one’s great for adding any beans or protein you have on-hand 🙂 glad you enjoyed!
We are about to make this delicious recipe for our nutrition and health project! Can’t wait to update you on the results and how our class felt about it!
Hi Ashlaine! Amazing! Let me know how everyone likes it 🙂
Made this for my girl group! I added carrots red peppers and lemon pepper grilled chicken! My new favorite salad! Thank you so much for sharing❤️❤️
Tried to rate it 5 stars.. would only accept 4🤔
Amazing! Those add-ins sound delicious. Hope everyone loved it 🙂 And we’re working on a fix for the stars – thank you for the heads up!
This recipe is a winner!! So easy and makes for great leftovers. I decided to roast the tomatoes, chickpeas, onion (shallot is what I had), and the garlic in olive oil and s+p. I then tossed the roasted garlic cloves into the blender. Skipped the cheese and it was perfect- so flavorful and simple. Used mix of lentil and brown rice pasta.
Delicious! Glad you enjoyed with those yummy add-ins 🙂
Absolutely amazing blend of flavors and HEALTHY TO BOOT!! I added the kalamata olives, used chickpea pasta and omitted the cheese. I had to restrain myself from standing at the counter and eating out of the serving bowl with a fork. YUMMMMMMMM
Perfect!! So happy you loved this one 🙂 great idea with the olives!
Easy to make and packed with flavor! This quickly became a staple in our house!
So glad you loved this one!
Hey Monique! I am trying this today; however, instead of pasta I’m going to use spinach and add the olives.. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Hi Lisa! Great! Let me know how you liked it 🙂
Monique!!!! This was excellent! I added the dressing when we were ready to eat so the spinach would not get to soft. Thanks for sharing. I am on to another recipe 🙂
Amazing! So happy to hear that 🙂 I hope you keep finding recipes here that you love!
Thank you for this recipe!!! It was really delicious and quick to make. Loved it, will definitely do it again:)
Absolutely! Glad you loved it!
My family LOVES this salad. It’s so simple to make and it keeps well for days. The flavors actually get better by the second day! The avacado stays fresh too, I was worried they may get ugly but the lemon juice must save them. I recently brought this to a gathering (social distancing! Ha) and three people asked for the recipe later! It left a lasting impression. Thank you!
Amazing! So happy everyone loved it!
This recipe has all the good things. I’ve made it a few times.. mainly with orecchiette, though I enjoy it with quinoa too. I think the recipe is perfect as written and the kalamata olives are a must for me. Thanks for all the deliciousness!
Amazing! Glad you love it!
Wow, truly one of the best pasta recipes I’ve made! The dressing is PERFECT!
So happy to hear that!
I made it! It has some different ingredients and I used gluten free pasta. My pasta turned a little hard unfortunately but the dressing is amazing!
So glad to hear you enjoyed the dressing, Alyse 🙂 Sorry about the hard pasta; maybe try another brand next time!
This salad is super delicious! I prepared it today for lunch and we loved it. I made it without the onion and still perfect for us. Thanks!
So happy you enjoyed it! Totally fine to leave out the onion 🙂
One of my go-to pasta salads! Me, my husband, and my toddler all love this dish! One of my favorite things about it is that I can make the full big batch and then eat on for a few days because the basil lemon vinaigrette really does help keep things fresh. Another good recipe that isn’t caprese or pesto that I can use all of that home garden grown fresh basil too. Big time recommend this pasta salad.
Yay! I’m so glad you guys are enjoying it, Taylor! And how cool that you’re growing basil–love that 🙂
Wow! This recipe is delicious! It only made 4 servings for me because I loved it so much! It’s super hot in TX right now, so I think a cold pasta salad is the perfect thing to get me through the rest of the summer!
Awesome!! Totally agree, cold pasta salads are the best in the summer. Stay cool!
Love this pasta salad especially the dressing! Subbed cucumber for the avocado because but grocery store didn’t have any that were ripe. This was a big hit at my summer bbq!
Such a delicious pasta salad! We made this as a side a BBQ with friends, and every single person went back for seconds. I added in cucumbers, olives and a little extra basil for some additional crunch and flavor (we love basil!!). And the leftover pasta salad kept great and was perfect for lunch the next day. I plan to make a big batch again soon and eat for lunches throughout the week!
Made this for a dinner party and it was a hit! I love all the fresh flavors in this healthier pasta salad 🙂
This is awesome. I used goat cheese crumbles instead of feta because I’m pregnant and the goat cheese just melted into it and added a creaminess to it. I also added an extra half of an avocado, because avocado 🙂
I did not have fresh basil leaves for the recipe so I used cilantro. The pasta still tasted fantastic, and I am taking some to school for lunch tomorrow! (:
I bet cilantro would be amazing! So happy you enjoyed this one!
I love AK recipes, they are usually surefire but this one ended up bland. If I do a variation in the future will dress the pasta before cooling to help the dressing absorb into the dish.
Delicious. I increased the feta to 3/4 cup and doubled the dressing. I also used rice/corn GF pasta which is not as heavy as regular pasta.
These are great changes! Thanks for sharing, Lyn 🙂