Chickpeas are one of the most versatile ingredients on the planet. They’re packed with protein and fiber, and make an excellent starting point for countless vegetarian recipes. Here, we’re simply mashing some of these garbonzos in a pan along with spices to create the easiest taco meat substitute you’ve ever made.

Now, what about the pomegranates? My community garden is overflowing with ripe pomegranates this time of year and, as delicious as they are to eat by themselves, I’ve been trying to find more creative uses for these antioxidant-packed seeds. Surprisingly, one of my favorite uses is in savory dishes; in this one they work alongside the mango to add a sweet contrast that pairs so well with the taco spices.


In addition to being a simple 15-minute meal, the great thing about this recipe is that it’s super versatile. You can make it as a taco salad (like shown), as straight-up tacos in tortillas, or even pile all the ingredients on tortilla chips to make nachos.


Makes 4 servings


  • 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas
  • 2+ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1+ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2+ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 mango
  • 2 tablespoons red onion
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • Cashew cream (optional)


Step One

Drain and rinse the two cans of chickpeas and add them to a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a splash (2 tablespoons?) of water along with most of the spices: 2 tablespoons of a standard chili powder blend, a teaspoon of smoked paprika, cayenne (if you like the heat), and a little salt. Mash the chickpeas with a large fork or potato masher until mostly broken down, with some small pieces remaining. Allow this to simmer for about 5 minutes, adding just enough water to keep the mixture from completely drying out โ€“ but not enough to make it soupy.

Step Two

Meanwhile, prepare all the other ingredients. Dice a mango and avocado. Finely-chop a small piece of red onion. Run over to your community garden to crack open a pomegranate and gather the seeds. ๐Ÿ™‚ Chop some cilantro and lettuce. Finally, for the tortilla strips, you can simply cut up two soft corn tortillas into strips to be added into the salad. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can brush them with a tiny bit of vegetable oil and salt and bake for several minutes to make them crunchy.

NOTE: As mentioned, you can also make this into regular tacos, in which case you would simply use more whole tortillas for serving.

Step Three

Back to the chickpea taco meat… Give this a taste and adjust the salt/spices as needed. I actually like to add a dash of extra cumin, coriander, and even cayenne into the mix, but straight chili blend will work fine. When it’s perfect, put the salad together: add some chopped lettuce to serving bowls and simply top with all the other ingredients โ€“ I told you this one was easy!

Oh, and this wouldn’t be a One Ingredient Chef recipe if it didn’t include cashew cream, (which somehow makes it into everything I make…). You know the drill by now, soak some cashews, drain them, blend with fresh water + salt, and drizzle over top.