Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

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
Place the quartered tomatoes in a strainer and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Allow to drain 20-30 minutes.

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.


Jessica Arnoldy said...

mmm so up my ally!

Laura said...

This looks delicious! I am having a major craving for summer barbecue food. This salad would make a perfect side. I was considering shoveling a path to the grill until I had to shovel another foot off the driveway. At the first sign of spring, I am trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Sara said...

This looks great. Cravings for summer produce only strike when its freezing and rainy outside, don't they?

Unknown said...

I saw this on one of her shows and immediately thought it needed to made ASAP! Looks wonderful!

Lauren said...

It does look good. I'm wondering if it couldn't be changed up a bit and made into a warm dish with chickpeas, maybe zucchini, feta and tomatoes? More wintry? Love Ina.

Jacqueline said...

I can't wait to make this! I couldn't find mint anywhere this time of year :-(, but I did find basil in bulk so I'm going to try it anyway!

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