Even though I strive to cook as seasonally as possible, sometimes a craving hits and I just can't ignore it. Last week I was going about my business, and I was hit with a sudden craving for Greek salad. I couldn't stop thinking about the combination of salty feta, fresh cucumbers, and bright and tangy dressing. Later that day, I was thumbing through How Easy is That? and this salad jumped out at me. Most of the ingredients aren't really in season, but I made an exception and adapted it to what I had the best access to.
This salad is full of yummy vegetables: cucumbers, scallions, chickpeas, and cherry tomatoes. It also gets a punch of freshness from the mint, basil, lemon, and parsley. The original recipe actually calls for vine-ripened tomatoes, but I used cherry tomatoes instead. They are really the only acceptable tomatoes that are available right now. I also used a trick I learned from Cook's Illustrated. If you salt and drain the tomatoes and give them a spin in your salad spinner before adding them to the salad, you will rid them of excess moisture, thereby keeping all the flavors from being too diluted.
I served this salad as a side to quinoa burgers, but it was also delicious on it's own for lunch the next day with some toasted pita. Another Ina hit, and I really can't wait to make this when produce is at it's peak!
Mediterranean Vegetable Salad
adapted from Ina Garten, How Easy is That?
serves 4 to 6 as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side.
- 10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 1/2-inch diced
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbs minced garlic
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 8 oz. feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced
Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil to make an emulsion.
Spin the tomatoes in a salad spinner several times to remove seeds and moisture. Toss the tomatoes with the scallions, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing to recombine, and pour over salad. Toss gently to coat. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently. Serve.