Pesto Chickpea Salad

I love quick fixes because I am busy and if something takes me more than 15-30 minutes to prepare, chances are I’m not going to do it, especially if it’s not my day off. So this Pesto Chickpea Salad was the perfect answer to lunch this week. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, […]

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I love quick fixes because I am busy and if something takes me more than 15-30 minutes to prepare, chances are I’m not going to do it, especially if it’s not my day off. So this Pesto Chickpea Salad was the perfect answer to lunch this week. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, it’s so creamy and delicious, and you can eat it a number of ways. Everything about this chickpea salad is my style! 

Originally posted 12-5-2012, updated 6-3-2021.

Pesto Chickpea Salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

How to Serve Pesto Chickpea Salad

This super simple chickpea salad can be enjoyed several ways. You can serve it as an appetizer with crackers for dipping, like in the photo above, it can be a side dish with dinner, or you can use it as a filling for a sandwich (toasted whole grain bread, a hearty bun, or in a wrap). …Or, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself just digging into the bowl with a fork. ;)

What Kind of Pesto is Best?

There are a lot of different types of pesto on the market, offering a little something for everyone. If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly, ALDI makes a super affordable basil pesto that I use in a lot of recipes. Today I happened to be shopping at a different store, so I went with Filippo Berio Classic Pesto, which was still pretty affordable and it had a really incredible flavor. Barilla also makes a very affordable pesto. And since pesto is the main flavor in this recipe, you definitely want to go with a pesto that you know you like. 

How Long Does the Salad Keep?

This Pesto Chickpea Salad will stay good in the refrigerator for about four days, making it great for meal prep! 

Soak Your Onions for a Softer Flavor

If you’re sensitive to red onions, here’s a trick that will make life so much more enjoyable. Soak your sliced onions in cold water for about five minutes before adding them to your recipe. The water pulls out that super sharp flavor, leaving a nice mild hint of red onion that will flavor your dish without hurting your stomach. :)

side view of pesto chickpea salad in a bowl, surrounded by crackers

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl surrounded by crackers

Pesto Chickpea Salad

This creamy and tangy Pesto Chickpea Salad is a quick and easy lunch. Enjoy with crackers, on a sandwich, or on top of a bed of greens.
Total Cost $3.14 recipe / $0.79 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 ¾ cup each
Calories 363kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise $0.40
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $1.30
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.06
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.01
  • 2 15oz. cans chickpeas $1.10
  • 1/4 cup red onion $0.10
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley $0.17

Instructions

  • Stir together the mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Roughly chop the parsley. Finely dice the red onions (soak the red onions in cold water for 5 minutes for a milder onion flavor). Add the chickpeas, parsley, and onion to a large bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the chickpeas, parsley, and onion. Stir to combine. Serve as is or slightly mash the chickpeas for a thicker consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 245mg | Fiber: 10g

Love chickpea salads? Check out my Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad

Pesto chickpea salad on a bun with greens

How to Make Pesto Chickpea Salad – Step By Step Photos

Creamy pesto dressing in a bowl being stirred
Start by making the creamy pesto dressing. In a bowl, stir together ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup basil pesto, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and ⅛ tsp freshly cracked pepper. 

Chickpeas, parsley, and red onion in a bowl

Rinse and drain two 15oz. cans of chickpeas, then place them in a bowl. Roughly chop about 1/4 cup fresh parsley. Finely dice about ¼ cup red onion (soak for 5 minutes in cold water if you want a milder onion flavor). 

Dressing added to chickpeas in the bowl

Add the dressing and stir to combine. You can either serve the salad just like this, or…

Slightly mashed chickpea salad in the bowl

Or you can slightly mash the chickpeas in the bowl to make it hold together a little more like a potato salad. You can use a potato masher to do this, or just mash some of the beans with a fork against the side of the bowl.

Pesto chickpea salad in a bowl with a cracker dipped into the side

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat!

close up of pesto chickpea salad on a cracker

So much flavor, so little effort. ;)

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Hot Corn Dip

This creamy, cheesy hot corn dip will be the star of the show at your next party, gathering, or BBQ. Easy to double for larger crowds!

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If you like chips and queso, you’re going to love this hot corn dip. It’s like queso’s older hotter cousin. It’s got all that creamy cheesy goodness, plus a little sweetness from the corn, plenty of color from the peppers, and a little kick of spicy heat. And a little bowl of cool salsa on the side offers the perfect complimentary flavors and textures. THIS will be a staple at every party that I hope the future holds.

A rectangular baking dish full of hot corn dip with chips and salsa on the sides

What’s in Hot Corn Dip?

To make this dip, I started with my recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip and simply swapped out the spinach and artichoke for corn and peppers, keeping that creamy-cheesy base. I then added a few more southwest flavors, like green onion, cumin, pepper jack cheese, and hot sauce to really solidify the flavor profile. The result? A super creamy, cheesy, slightly spicy dip that you won’t be able to stop dunking chips into.

Make it Extra

I always like to present a sort of “base layer” recipe to which you can add if your budget allows. If you want to go above and beyond with your hot corn dip, consider using a fire roasted corn for a more smoky flavor (I’ve seen fire roasted frozen corn at Trader Joes). You can also try stirring in some crumbled bacon, topping with some pico de gallo, or fresh cilantro.

Can I Use Fresh Corn?

This delicious dip is a natural choice during the summer months when fresh corn is cheap, sweet, and in abundance. To use fresh corn in this recipe you’ll want to roast, grill, or boil your corn before adding it to the mix. You’ll need about 3 cups of cooked corn kernels.

A chip dipped into the hot corn dip and being lifted away from the dish
Overhead view of several chips dipped into a dish full of hot corn dip

Hot Corn Dip

This creamy, cheesy hot corn dip will be the star of the show at your next party, gathering, or BBQ. Easy to double for larger crowds!
Total Cost $5.14 recipe / $0.86 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 about ½ cup each
Calories 292kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 jalapeño $0.10
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 3 green onions $0.19
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.28
  • 12 oz. frozen corn $0.75
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.35
  • 1/4 cup sour cream $0.11
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise $0.20
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce $0.08
  • 4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded (1 cup) $1.15
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.22

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Remove the seeds and stems from the red bell pepper and jalapeño, then finely dice both. Mince the garlic and slice the green onion.
  • Add the butter to a large skillet and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add the red bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic. Sauté over medium for a few minutes, or just until the red bell pepper begins to soften.
  • Add the frozen corn and continue to sauté until the corn has heated through.
  • Cut the cream cheese into chunks, then add it to the skillet along with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir and heat the mixture until everything is melted together and smooth.
  • Finally, add the sliced green onions, cumin, hot sauce, half of the shredded pepper jack (½ cup) , and Parmesan. Stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
  • Spread the corn dip into a 2 quart casserole dish, then top with the remaining pepper jack. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake the corn dip for about 20 minutes in the preheated 375ºF oven, or until the cheese on top is melted and the dip is bubbling around the edges. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.87g | Protein: 8.8g | Fat: 22.73g | Sodium: 286.93mg | Fiber: 2.37g
Overhead view of several chips dipped into a dish full of hot corn dip

How to Make Hot Corn Dip – Step by Step Photos

Diced peppers and garlic in a skillet

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Remove the seeds and stems from one red bell pepper and jalapeño, then finely dice them. Mince two cloves of garlic and slice 3 green onions. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the red bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic. Sauté the peppers and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes, or just until the red bell pepper begins to soften.

Frozen corn added to the skillet

Add a 12 oz. bag of frozen corn to the skillet and continue to sauté until the corn is heated through.

Cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo added to the skillet

Cut 4 oz. cream cheese into chunks, then add it to the skillet along with ¼ cup sour cream and 2 Tbsp mayonnaise. Stir them into the vegetables until they are melted, smooth, and creamy.

Spices, cheese, and green onion added to the skillet

Next, add sliced green onion, ½ tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp hot sauce, ½ cup shredded pepper jack, and 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan. Stir until everything is combined and melted together.

Hot corn dip being spread into a baking dish

Transfer the hot corn dip into a 2-quart baking dish and top with the remaining ½ cup shredded pepper jack.

Baked hot corn dip in the baking dish

Bake the hot corn dip in the preheated 375ºF oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and the dip is bubbling around the edges.

Close up of a chip dipped into the corner of the hot corn dip casserole dish

Serve hot while the cheese is ooey-gooey and delicious!

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Creamy Avocado Dressing

This tangy and creamy avocado dressing is great drizzled over salads, sandwiches, wraps, bowl meals, nachos, tacos, fresh vegetables, and more.

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If you’re a fan of my Lime Crema, I think you’re going to also love this Creamy Avocado Dressing. It has the same bones as the Lime Crema, but is dressed up with a few more flavors to really make it a flavor bomb. This dressing comes together super fast, so you can make it fresh on the spot whenever needed.

P.S. It’s great on a lot more than just salads!

Creamy avocado dressing in a mason jar with a black spoon in the center

What’s in Creamy Avocado Dressing

This recipe is SO simple. It starts with the same ingredients as my Lime Crema: sour cream, garlic, lime, and salt. Then I added an avocado and fresh cilantro to freshen it up and make it a total flavor bomb. It’s so simple, but SO good.

Do I Need a Food Processor?

I found my food processor to be the easiest tool in my kitchen to make this dressing, but it is definitely soft and fluid enough to use a good blender if you have one. This recipe makes about one cup, so you’ll need something with at least a 1.5 cup capacity to allow for movement.

How to Serve Creamy Avocado Dressing

I used this avocado dressing on a really great taco salad (recipe coming later this week!), but I found myself dipping all sorts of vegetables into the jar throughout the rest of the day. This dressing is so good that I was looking for anything and everything to dip into it!

Try this dressing on your sandwiches, wraps, tacos, salads, nachos, bowl meals, fresh vegetables, and more!

Creamy avocado dressing dripping off a spoon into a bowl
Creamy avocado dressing dripping off a spoon into a bowl

Creamy Avocado Dressing

This tangy and creamy avocado dressing is great for both salads and for dipping your favorite vegetables. Mixes up in minutes!
Total Cost $1.93 recipe / $0.48 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 ¼ cup each
Calories 122.88kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado $0.89
  • 1/2 cup sour cream $0.24
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (1 lime) $0.50
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro $0.20
  • 1/4 cup water (or as needed) $0.00

Instructions

  • Add the avocado, sour cream, minced garlic, salt, lime juice, and cilantro to a food processor or blender. Puré until smooth.
  • Add water, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, and purée again until it reaches your desired consistency (leave thicker for a dip, add more water for a pourable dressing).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 122.88kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.58g | Protein: 1.6g | Fat: 11.3g | Sodium: 160.63mg | Fiber: 2.6g

How to Make Creamy Avocado Dressing – Step by Step Photos

Avocado dressing ingredients in a food processor

Add 1 avocado, ½ cup sour cream, 1 clove of garlic (minced), ¼ tsp salt, 2 Tbsp lime juice, and ¼ bunch cilantro to a food processor or blender.

finished avocado dressing in the food processor

Purée until smooth. Add water, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, and purée again until the dressing reaches your desired consistency. To use as a dip, leave it thick and don’t add any water. For a more pourable dressing, add about ¼ cup water.

Creamy avocado dressing in a bowl with a black spoon in the center

Serve over your favorite salad, tacos, nachos, wrap sandwiches, chips, or fresh vegetables!

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Sesame Ginger Dressing

This Sesame Ginger Dressing is probably one of the most addictive homemade dressings I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and has a super “zingy” fresh ginger bite. It’s one of those dressings that you’ll just want to keep dipping your spoon into. The type of dressing that will make you want to eat a […]

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This Sesame Ginger Dressing is probably one of the most addictive homemade dressings I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and has a super “zingy” fresh ginger bite. It’s one of those dressings that you’ll just want to keep dipping your spoon into. The type of dressing that will make you want to eat a salad just to serve as a vehicle for the delicious dressing (that’s not exactly a bad thing). But, if you’re like me, you’ll probably just end up drizzling it over everything!

Originally posted 2-5-2012, updated 7-23-2020.

Sesame ginger dressing in a wooden bowl, garnished with sesame seeds, a spoon in the middle of the bowl.

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made out of ground sesame seeds. Think of it like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts! It’s one of the base ingredients for this dressing and can not be substituted in this recipe. The tahini not only adds sesame flavor to the recipe, but it also helps thicken the dressing. You can usually find tahini in the grocery store either near the peanut butter, or near the middle-eastern ingredients in the international aisle. 

Can I Substitute the Rice Vinegar?

I don’t suggest substituting the rice vinegar in this recipe. Rice vinegar has a uniquely mild flavor and acidity compared to other vinegars, which keeps it from overpowering the other flavors. While you might be able to use another type of vinegar, you’d probably also need to adjust the amount or the ratio of other ingredients to compensate for the increased acidity. 

How Long Does This Sesame Ginger Dressing Last?

Because this dressing uses fresh ginger and garlic, I suggest keeping it stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. But it tastes so good that hopefully you’ll finish it off before then!

How to Use Sesame Ginger Dressing

This dressing goes great over crunchy salads, like my Crunchy Cabbage Salad, but it can also be poured over cold noodle salads, used to dip egg rolls or dumplings, or poured over rice bowls. The sky’s the limit and I’m sure once you’ll taste it you’ll want it on everything!

Sesame ginger dressing being poured over crunchy cabbage salad from a mason jar

 
A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger

Sesame Ginger Dressing

This homemade sesame ginger dressing will drench your favorite salad with a sweet, salty, and nutty flavor, and a fresh gingery bite!
Total Cost $2.03 recipe / $0.20 sesrving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 2 Tbsp each
Calories 132.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.30
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil* $0.32
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar $0.53
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.12
  • 3 Tbsp honey $0.36
  • 1 Tbsp tahini $0.19
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.05

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and grate the ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater)
  • Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, tahini, and toasted sesame oil to a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve over salad or as a dipping sauce.

Notes

*Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, safflower, grapeseed, or sesame (untoasted) will work fine for this dressing.
If your dressing is too thick for pouring, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of water to loosen it up.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 132.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.98g | Protein: 0.59g | Fat: 12.27g | Sodium: 177.95mg | Fiber: 0.2g

How to Make Sesame Ginger Dressing – Step by Step Photos

garlic press with two cloves of garlic, and fresh ginger with a microplane

Begin by mincing two cloves of garlic and grating about 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger. I like to use my garlic press to easily mince the garlic and a small-holed cheese grater to easily grate the ginger. Ginger grates easier if it’s frozen (the little hairs don’t clog the grater). I don’t even bother peeling it, I just make sure the peel is very clean.

minced garlic and grated ginger

And that’s what it looks like once the garlic is minced and ginger grated (for everyone who is visual, like me).

Rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and tahini

Here are three of the most important ingredients in this dressing: rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and tahini. Toasted sesame oil has a much stronger nutty flavor than regular (or un-toasted) sesame oil. You can usually find it near other Asian ingredients in the international aisle. 

Dressing ingredients in the blender

Add the 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp grated ginger, ½ cup neutral salad oil, ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 3 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp tahini, and ½ tsp toasted sesame oil to a blender. Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, grapeseed, sesame (un-toasted), or safflower will work fine.

Blended dressing on a spoon in the blender

Blend until the dressing is smooth and creamy. If your dressing ends up being really thick and you’d like it a little more pourable, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of water.

A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger

Enjoy the sesame ginger dressing poured over your favorite salad, or as a dipping sauce!

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Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is one of my favorite fresh summer condiments because it only takes a few minutes to make and it’s just so fresh and vibrant. The flavor just screams “summer!” I’m always so in awe of recipes that have only a few ingredients, but taste so good and pico de gallo is a […]

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Pico de gallo is one of my favorite fresh summer condiments because it only takes a few minutes to make and it’s just so fresh and vibrant. The flavor just screams “summer!” I’m always so in awe of recipes that have only a few ingredients, but taste so good and pico de gallo is a great example of that. There’s something magic about the combination of fresh lime and salt that totally transforms this bowl of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Simple, magic, delicious.

Originally posted 5-22-2011, updated 6-30-2020.

A bowl of pico de gallo surrounded by chips, tomatoes, limes, cilantro, and salt.

What is Pico de Gallo?

Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa made with tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, salt, lime, and cilantro. Unlike most jarred salsa that you find in the store, this mix is not cooked, so the flavor stays very fresh and vibrant, and the texture is less saucy and more chunky. 

How to Use Pico de Gallo

If you’re wondering how you use pico de gallo, the answer is “on everything.” It’s a condiment that can be spooned over just about any savory food for an added boost of freshness. Here are a few things I like to spoon it over:

Where’s the Jalapeño??

Okay, so there is where I diverge from traditional pico de gallo recipes. I, for whatever reason, despite how much I like spicy food, prefer mine without jalapeño, so the recipe below is written sans jalapeño. If you want to make it in the traditional fashion, simply seed and finely dice one jalapeño and add it into the mix.

What Else Can I Add?

Pico de gallo is a great starting point for any number of fresh salsas. Here are some other ingredients you can add to flesh it out and make it into a more complex salsa:

  • pineapple
  • avocado
  • corn
  • mango
  • peaches
  • chipotle peppers

Pico de gallo being spooned over green chile enchiladas

Shown spooned over Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.

 
Overhead view of a bowl of pico de gallo surrounded by tortilla chips, salt, tomatoes, cilantro, and limes

Pico de Gallo

This fresh and easy pico de gallo only takes a few minutes to make and adds vibrant flavor to your tacos, enchiladas, nachos, and more.
Total Cost $2.59 recipe / $0.22 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 12 ¼ cup each
Calories 14.13kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 tomatoes (2 cups diced) $1.50
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion (1 cup diced) $0.37
  • 1 lime $0.50
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro $0.20
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Finely dice the tomato and onion. Finely chop the cilantro. Add the tomato, onion, and cilantro to a bowl.
  • Squeeze the juice of half the lime over the vegetables in the bowl (about 1 Tbsp). Add a pinch or two of salt, and stir everything to combine. Taste the mixture and add more salt or lime juice to your liking. Allow the salsa to sit for five minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 14cup | Calories: 14.13kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.03g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 56.61mg | Fiber: 0.92g

Close up of a chip topped with pico de gallo, the bowl in the background

How to Make Pico de Gallo – Step By Step Photos

Fresh tomato, onion, lime, cilantro and salt on a cutting board

Since pico de gallo is a FRESH tomato salsa, it starts with all fresh ingredients: tomatoes, onion, lime, cilantro, and salt. I like to do a 2:1 ratio of tomato to onion, so I used two small tomatoes and half of an onion. I also prefer to use a sweeter onion for pico de gallo, so it doesn’t overwhelm the salsa, so I used a Vidalia onion.

Chopped tomato onion and cilantro in a bowl

Finely dice the tomatoes and onion, and finely chop the cilantro (about ¼ cup).

lime being squeezed over the bowl of vegetables

Squeeze fresh lime juice over the diced vegetables. For the amount of pico de gallo I am making here, I used about 1 Tbsp of lime juice, or the juice of half a lime. The great thing about pico de gallo is that you can just make it according to your own tastes, without measuring anything.

stirred pico de gallo in the bowl, salt and limes on the side

Season with a pinch or two of salt, then stir everything together. Taste, and adjust the salt to your liking. I used about ¼ tsp of salt. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes before serving to allow the juices to extract and flavors to blend. Make sure to give it a good stir just before serving to redistribute the flavor.

Overhead view of a bowl of pico de gallo surrounded by tortilla chips, salt, tomatoes, cilantro, and limes

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