Stuff Balela Middle Eastern chickpea salad into pita pockets for an easy plant-based lunch or enjoy as a side salad along with falafel and hummus or labneh

Two pita pockets filled with Balela, a Middle Eastern chickpea bean salad, and hummus and cucumbers.

Have you seen the tubs of balela salad at Trader Joe’s or Costco and wondered how to make it from scratch? If you’ve got dried or canned chickpeas in the pantry, this recipe is a great way to use them up.


Balela salad is perfect for meal prep, as a side salad, or for stuffing into lettuce wraps or pita pockets.

What is Balela? 

Balala is a Middle Eastern bean salad typically made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), lemon juice, herbs, and tomatoes. Black beans are also common in Balela salads. Many cultures around the world have their own version of legume and bean salads and we’ve shared a few here in the past. A few favorites have been our Mediterranean Lentil Salad, Greek Chickpea Salad, and Southwestern Cowboy Caviar, and Black Bean and Brown Rice Salad

Dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soak in a glass jar on a white countertop.

Cooking Chickpeas 

If you’re new to cooking with chickpeas or dried beans in general, start with this article all about How to Cook Chickpeas. This simple Balela bean salad recipe can be made with dried or canned chickpeas. If using dried, you’ll want to soak overnight, or quick soak before cooking on the stove or pressure cooker

A cookbook author holds a copy of Vegan in an Instant, a healthy vegetarian and vegan Instant Pot cookbook.

This recipe was adapted from one of the 103 plant-based Instant Pot recipes in the Vegan in an Instant cookbook. You can grab a copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, etc. 

The ingredients for Balela, a Middle Eastern bean salad, in bowls on a cutting board.

Balela Bean Salad Ingredients

This simple Middle Eastern bean salad recipe requires just a handful of ingredients. While you could also add other herbs, cucumber, and/or black beans, here’s what you’ll need for this recipe: 

  • Chickpeas (3 cups canned or 1 cup dried) 
  • Red onion
  • Olives 
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Parsley 
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil 
  • Red wine vinegar 
  • Salt and Pepper 
A white bowl filled with Balela, a Middle Eastern chickpea and bean salad with tomatoes, herbs, olives, and onions. A healthy vegetarian, vegan, gluten free recipe.

What to Serve with Balela Salad

A vegan pita pocket filled with Balela bean salad, hummus, and cucumber. Balela is a delicious meal prep recipe perfect for a healthy vegetarian or vegan lunch.

Pita Pockets 

One of my favorite ways to eat Balela salad is as a pita pocket filling. Cut a warm pita pocket in half, add hummus, cucumber slices, and your chickpea salad. Crumbled feta is a delicious addition as well. 

Yield: Serves 6

Balela Bean Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

This flavorful Middle Eastern chickpea salad made with dried or canned chickpeas is perfect for meal prep as it lasts for several days in the refrigerator. Enjoy as a side salad or stuffed into pita pockets. This recipe is naturally vegan and gluten free (without the pita).

Balela Bean Salad


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight*
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to tast


  1. Cook the chickpeas if using dried. Drain the soaking water and add the beans back into a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 hours, or until tender. Alternatively, pressure cook (high) in an Instant Pot for 10 minutes, then naturally release the pressure.
  2. Drain the chickpeas and add to a medium bowl. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


Feel free to use 3 cups of canned drained chickpeas.

For detailed instructions for cooking dried chickpeas on the stove or in the Instant Pot see this article.

Balela sometimes includes black beans as well as chickpeas. Feel free to add a cup of drained black beans to this recipe if you'd like.

Balela Pita Pockets

Stuff warmed pita pocket halves with hummus, sliced cucumber, Balela salad, and feta cheese crumbles (optional) for a tasty portable lunch.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 174mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.