Marinated Chickpea Salad with Radishes, Cucumber, and Queso de Freir

This quick chickpea salad from pastry chef Paola Velez, a riff on this recipe from former Food & Wine Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel, is packed with vegetables and tossed with a simple, flavorful lemon-garlic and cumin dressing. Crispy, melty strips of fried queso de freir — a favorite cheese from Velez's childhood — take the dish over the top. The salad comes together in 30 minutes, making it ideal for busy nights.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 12 black peppercorns or 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 can (29 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 8 to 10 radishes, assorted colors and varieties preferred

  • 1 medium cucumber

  • ½ medium red onion

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ¼ cup canola oil

  • 1 package (16 ounces) queso de freir, cut into 8 to 10 slices

  • Crushed red pepper, to taste


  1. Crush cumin in a mortar and pestle or spice mill until finely ground. Place in a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and garlic. Crush peppercorns in mortar and pestle or in a spice mill and add to dressing in the bowl. Season dressing with salt and whisk ingredients together. Add chickpeas and stir to coat in the dressing. Set aside to marinate while preparing the vegetables.

  2. Thinly slice radishes. Cut cucumber lengthwise in half, then crosswise into thin half-moons. Thinly slice red onion, and coarsely chop the parsley.

  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high. Add queso de freir slices and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or sheet pan.

  4. Add radishes, cucumber, onion, and parsley to chickpeas and toss to coat vegetables. Season with salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Top with queso de freir.

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