Smoky roasted chickpeas topped with a mound of crisp, fresh salad coated in tangy ranch dressing, these are an easy win! Our chickpea tacos use some shortcuts to create lots of flavor for minimal effort, helping you scrape together a cheap and tasty dinner with the contents of your pantry and fridge salad drawer.
If you’re looking for anything resembling authenticity in a vegetarian taco, I am afraid I can’t be much help. If, however, you’re looking for a way to turn some cupboard staples and scraps from your fridge into a cheap, fast and tasty dinner – well, we might have something here.
We’re going to roast some chickpeas in a mix of barbecue sauce and taco seasoning, and then put together a crispy leafy salad coated in ranch dressing as the topping. And… that’s it. You make tacos.
Using ranch salad as a taco topper
I kinda love this hack. A few reasons why it works for me:
- First, the crispy coolness or the lettuce + creamy ranch dressing are the perfect accompaniment to the smoky chickpeas. No sour cream required.
- Second, the herby tangy flavor of the ranch adds a lot of flavor to the tacos. No slaw or pickled things required either.
- Third, it’s easier to mix up a salad than to put lots of little bits in lots of little bowls. It just is. Easier still if you already have some pre-made salad knocking around in the fridge.
A lighter taco?
I would also mention that the salad helps make these tacos full and bulky without actually adding a whole lot more calories, so this can be a lighter taco too, though it depends how heavy handed you are with your ranch. I used full fat ranch but you can use something lighter if that’s a goal for you.
Let’s talk ingredients
The thing with this recipe is we want it to be easy to put together with the stuff you already have, so we need to be flexible while preserving what is important. Let’s discuss:
- For me, corn tortillas are what make these tacos tacos instead of just wraps. But where I live in the world (in the UK) it just can’t be insisted upon. They do make the recipe much more expensive and require you to source ingredients online. That won’t be the case if you’re in a part of North America with easy access to corn tortillas. If you need to use flour tortillas, go for it, they will just be missing one dimension of flavor.
- Ranch dressing is pretty much essential here. As we discussed, it brings a lot of herby flavor and tanginess that this recipe needs to thrive. Again, access to ranch dressing is not equal worldwide with my North American readers having the advantage of a zillion varieties. Newman’s Own can be found in the UK but failing that, it is so easy to make your own! If you really can not / will not with the ranch, you could try another creamy, herby style dressing. You just don’t want something that skews to another genre, i.e. Italian or Greek; it has to complement the smoky flavors of the chickpeas, so it’s hard for me to recommend anything but ranch.
- Canned Chickpeas: Feel free to bulk out the baking tray with corn or mushrooms if you want to add to the hot component of the tacos.
- Barbecue Sauce adds lots of smoky goodness so ideally you want this, but you can skip it and just use extra taco or fajita seasoning if needs be.
- Taco or Fajita Seasoning really enhances the flavor of the chickpeas, but if you don’t have any, just add more seasoning – salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, whatever you can rustle up.
- Salad Ingredients: You want a crispy lettuce leaf, such as iceberg, romaine or gem, and you want it chopped nice and small. Tomatoes, onions and grated cheddar cheese are my other fillings of choice today, but black olives, corn, grated carrot and pepper would all be excellent additions. You want enough variety in fillings and textures to allow each bite to be a little different here, but the dressing will do a lot of the work so don’t stress too much.
- Chopped Cilantro (Fresh Coriander) is a great addition to the salad if you have it, but I’ve made it without, and it’s not a deal breaker. The ranch is plenty herby.
- Guacamole or Avocado: Also optional, but spreading a little guac on the tortilla before adding the toppings helps them stay in place and adds some extra smooth creaminess.
More Easy Vegetarian Tacos
Chickpea Salad Tacos
- 15 oz (400 g) can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
- 1 tbsp taco or fajita seasoning
- 6-8 small corn tortillas
- ¼ iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
- 5-8 cherry tomatoes, chopped
- ⅓ cup grated cheddar cheese
- 2-3 tbsp red onion, minced
- 1 small bunch cilantro (fresh coriander), chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp ranch dressing, to taste
- Heat the oven to 200C / 390F and for maximum time saving, hold off on prepping your salad ingredients until the chickpeas are in the oven.
- Prepare the chickpeas by mixing them with the barbecue sauce and taco seasoning until well coated.
- Scatter on an oiled baking tray and add a drizzle of oil on top too. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and crisp.
- Meanwhile, prepare your salad while the chickpeas roast by tossing all of the ingredients in a bowl.
- Warm your tortillas and serve! Spread a little guacamole on the tortilla (if using) then top with chickpeas and a big scoop of salad.