Greek Salad with Chickpeas and Mint

July has been a busy month. The good kind of busy!

Though I didn't get to try out any new recipes, we'd a wonderful time as a family. Cincinnati had been unusually hot this summer. Which meant a lot of fresh and light meals and a lot of easy and fuss free cooking.

The highlight of this year's summer has been our tiny herb garden. Since it was our first foray into gardening, we kept it less adventurous with low maintenance herbs like Mint, Sweet Italian Basil, Rosemary and Thyme.

Having an herb garden has its advantages. A snip here and a snip there and suddenly, there is a burst of freshness in our everyday meal.

There is nothing fancy about a Greek Salad and yet it remains mine and Sam's favorite. I guess you can never go wrong with Olives and Feta!

Like any other Salad, my recipe for Greek Salad also depends on what I have on hand. Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Bell Peppers are my 'Crisper Drawer' staple. They're pretty much the regular cast in my Greek Salad.

To make this salad a complete meal, you need to sneak in some protein. I love adding cooked Chickpeas to my salads. But you can add black, red or white beans or even Tofu to yours. If you are the carnivore type, cooked chicken, canned Tuna or grilled shrimps are delicious choices too.

Olives! You cant have a Greek Salad without Olives!!!
I love good Kalamata Olives. But I wont judge you (if you don't judge me back!) if you use Black, Green, Pimento stuffed, Blue Cheese stuffed... etc. Go ahead use whatever's lying in your pantry as long as it's briny, tangy and olive(y)!

Greek Salad = Feta Cheese. Period.
I'm never rigid about my recipes. But Greek Salad without Feta just ain't right!

Dressing! Lets talk about dressing. That's my favorite part of a Salad!

Traditionally, vinegar and olive oil is emulsified along with flavoring like garlic powder, dried oregano and or basil to make the Greek Salad dressing.

But since we're in the middle of a very HOT Summer, I replaced the vinegar with freshly squeezed Lemon Juice as my choice of acid. I even zested the lemon, coz a little zest doesn't hurt and it makes things a touch classy.

Instead of of dried oregano and basil, I went with fresh mint to bring in more freshness. Finely grated garlic, touch of black pepper and of course a big glug of EVOO rounded up this light and refreshing dressing/vinaigrette

Did you notice an absolute absence of salt in the dressing?
We have been on a low-sodium diet for quite a while now. Our salt threshold is pretty low. The saltiness of the Feta is good enough for us. But please feel free to add a fat pinch of salt to the dressing, if you wish.

Greek Salad is pretty simple to put together. It has and continues to be mine and Sam's favorite. I've made it multiple time and no two times have been the same. Like any salad, it's a forgiving recipe and you can add or subtract any ingredient depending on what you have. Just be sure to add some Olives and Feta!

I hate drowning my leafy salads in greasy dressings. But a little bit of fat is required for the body to absorb valuable nutrients found in vegetables, which are known as carotenoids.

The dressing uses little oil and is a very light and refreshing. It doesn't weigh the salad down. It might not be very traditional but its delicious, nonetheless. Hope you love it as much as we do.

Recipe Snapshot: Greek Salad with Chickpeas and Mint

Serves: 2 serving as Entree and 4 servings as a Side

What I used:
Romaine Lettuce - 1 head, roughly chopped

English Cucumber - 1, peeled and diced

Grape or Cherry Tomatoes - 1 cup, halved

Red Onion - 1, medium sized, thinly sliced

Green Bell Pepper - 1, medium sized, thinly sliced

Chickpeas - 1 cup, cooked

Black or Olives (sliced) - 1 can (6 oz), drained

Feta Cheese - 1/4 cup, crumbled

For the Dressing:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 2 tablespoon

Lemon - zest and juice of a whole lemon

Garlic - 2 fat cloves, grated

Mint leaves - 1/4 cup, packed, very finely chopped

Freshly cracked Black Pepper

What I did:
1. In a small bowl, add the EVOO, zest and juice of a lime, grated garlic, finely chopped mint leaves and the black pepper. Whisk it together and set it aside.

2. In a large bowl add the chopped head of Romaine Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes, Diced Cucumber, Thinly sliced Red Onion and Bell Pepper, Olive Slices, Cooked Chickpeas and a half the Feta.

3. Add the prepared Lemon-Mint Vinaigrette and give the salad a good toss.

4. Serve immediately, topped with more crumbled Feta.

1. Unlike my other salad recipes, this Greek Salad needs to be served immediately.
2. The lemon juice can be replace by red wine vinegar or any vinegar of choice.
3. Chickpeas can be substituted by any other cooked beans of choice or even diced cooked tofu, chicken or shrimp.
4. Basil, parsley or any herb can be used instead of mint.
5. Our salt intake is pretty low. The saltiness of the Feta is good enough for us. If needed, add any salt to your taste.

Diabetic Platter:
A Greek salad is a twist on a traditional tossed green salad that usually includes feta cheese, olives, cucumber, red onion and olive oil, in addition to the standard lettuce and tomato. The inclusion of these additional ingredients is a healthy way to punch up the nutrition of your salad by adding key vitamins and minerals to your salad.

Salad greens provide you with a healthy dose of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and iron. One cup of tomatoes on your salad supplies 24.7 mg of vitamin C and 1,499 IU of vitamin A. Cucumbers are a healthy source of potassium for just 8 calories per 1/2-cup serving. Red onion slices provide additional vitamin A and C, as well as a small amount of fiber.

Most versions of Greek salad contain either black or kalamata olives, each of which is a healthy source of unsaturated fat. A diet that includes healthy unsaturated fats might help you reduce your risk of heart disease. One large black olive adds just 5 calories to your Greek salad, but also supplies you with small amounts of calcium, fiber and vitamin A.

A crumble of feta cheese adds a bold flavor to a Greek salad, but is also a nutritious topping. Use a moderate amount of cheese on your salad because while it is healthy, it also contains about 6 g of fat per 1 oz. serving. Your crumble of feta cheese will also supply you with 140 mg of calcium to support healthy bones and teeth. A 1 oz. serving of feta cheese also supplies 0.82 mg of zinc and 120 IU of vitamin A. You will also get trace amounts of potassium, magnesium and B vitamins.



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