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Summer Salads and Sides: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
I wish I had the olive toned complexion of a Greek or the shiny dark hair of the Lebanese. But mostly, I just wish I could eat and cook Mediterranean food every day of my life. (Maybe with a sprinkling of sushi and Thai food every once in a while, just to mix it up.) But in general, Mediterranean food is my absolute favorite! The flavors and colors make my stomach growl and my eyes grow wide.
Ya’ll, I eat far less meat these days than I have in the past, and there are some sad-sad vegetarian options and alternatives out there. In my opinion, Mediterranean cuisine has the best vegetarian food. Probably because many of the dishes are already vegetarian. The spices, the flavors, the textures, and the diversity in the preparation make vegetarian Mediterranean cuisine the rockstar of the veg world. In most other cases, mean is subbed with something else or omitted from a dish that would otherwise include it.
So any time I see Mediterranean inspired anything on a menu, I am intrigued. Our favorite happy hour spot had a mediterranean chickpea salad on the menu. And you guys, it was incredible. I knew it must be recreated at home. So I did. Over and over again! The dressing is bright, light, and citrusy (without being tart). Do not skip marinating the raisins in the dressing is a must. And, the basil, mint, and parsley are not to be skimped on. But otherwise… its a salad not a science! So, have fun and play around with itl! I like adding chopped bell pepper and red onion. But, if you like to live on the spicy side, a couple of jalapeños could be fun. Or, maybe you don’t like onions? Try some chopped cucumber instead!
This is a hearty salad or an amazing vegan main course! I usually make a ton and cross my fingers that there will be leftovers. (It makes the best lunch the next day!!)
My family is from Sicily so I like to think I am a Mediterranean of sorts, but in Sicily, we have tomato sauce, olive oil, fish, wine, and super bomb cheese. Not to shabby, but not the most diverse group of flavors and nor is what I think of as Mediterranean cuisine. So, if you could wake up tomorrow and be from anywhere, where would it be??!! Tell me I’m not the only one! HA!
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups lightly packed spinach (or spinach salad blend)
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. raisins
- 1/4 c. mint leaves, chopped and stems removed (about 15-20 leaves)
- 1/4 c. basil leaves, chopped and stems removed
- 1/4 c. parsley leaves, chopped and stems removed
- Juice from 1 medium orange
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine orange juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, and maple syrup. Whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in olive oil whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add raisins. Allow raisins to re-hydrate with the dressing for an hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator, if making dressing ahead of time.
In a large bowl, toss chickpeas with chopped pepper and onion. Drizzle dressing and raisins over the top and toss to combine. Add chopped herbs and toss again.
The marinated chickpeas keep quite well in the refrigerator for 48 hours. So I suggest scooping them over the top of spinach to serve rather than tossing them with the spinach - since the dressing will wither the spinach much more quickly. With that in mind, serve by plating each individual serving over spinach. Alternately, toss with spinach and serve immediately.
Total time includes rehydrating raisins in dressing.