Adventures in Culinary Assembly Or, Mediterranean Salad – Big Lettuce, Big Carrots, Tomatoes Like Volleyballs

By virtue of this blog post, I am accomplishing two goals I’ve set for myself in the new year — blog more and eat more kale.

My leafy green intake is pretty abysmal — usually relegated to spinach on pizza or in spanakopita — so I decided to rectify this by making a big, Mediterranean Salad for dinner.

Since I was making Mediterranean-inspired food, I figured I needed music from the region. My knowledge of world music is woefully sparse, so I did a quick Spotify search for ‘Greek Music’ and came across Tzatziki: The Best Greek Music For The Best Greek Food by the Bouzouki Kings and Friends. Alright — that works.

Now, let’s get to assembling.

Ingredients:

Chickpeas
Grape tomatoes
Kale
Romaine
Cucumber
Red onion
Black olives
Goat cheese
Newman’s Own Greek Vinaigrette (Yes, I know making Greek Vinaigrette is a breeze but I love Paul Newman)

Firstly, you’re going to grab a big bowl. Big salad deserves big bowls.

What’s that? A serving bowl? Perfect.

As soon as you’re done chopping your ingredients, you’re going to pitch ’em into the bowl. This could not be easier.

Tear up your leafy greens into bite-size pieces.

Chop and de-seed your tomatoes.

Tomato guts are gross. You know and I know it. Look at that thing – it looks like some sort of alien bodily waste product.

Now, the chickpeas. You have two options here – open the can, give them a quick rinse and dump ’em into the bowl or you can get a little fancy.

I am all about the fancy.

Augs makes these really tasty roasted chickpeas and I figured they would be a great addition to my salad – crunchy like croutons, but much healthier.

It adds some time to your salad-making adventure, but it’s so worth it.

Drain the chickpeas and dry them using a clean dishtowel.
Pour them into a baking dish with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cook in a 425°F oven for an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes or so.
At the 30 minute mark, remove from the oven and add your seasonings.
You can pick pretty much anything that strikes your fancy, so I went with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and basil.
Be careful because these suckers pop and the last thing you want is a hot chickpea in your eye.
Remove after one hour and let cool.

Before cooking, during cooking and the finished product.

Peel and slice your cucumber.

Yes, slice. Sliced cucumbers taste better and if you disagree, I’m judging you. With my eyes.

Slice up some red onion rings.

Onions always taste better in ring form. See above re: judging.

Now, the tricky part. Resisting the urge to shove a brick of goat cheese into your face.

Once you’ve managed that, crumble off a little of this gift of the gods and add it to your ever-growing bowl of goodies.

Add the black olives. Whole olives belong in salads and martinis. Sliced olives belong on pizza.

Add dressing and give the salad a quick toss. A couple of grinds of black pepper wouldn’t go amiss either.

Add your roasted chickpeas for added crunch, flavor and protein and grab a fork and go to town.

There is no shame in eating a giant bowl of vegetables.

None.

With the exception of a Wedge (really dudes? Really? It’s a brick of iceberg with blue cheese and some bacon. It’s less a salad and more an indication that people are stupid and will pay anything the menu says. $12 for the Wedge at Butcher and Singer — it’s lettuce, dudes. Iceberg lettuce), this is one of the easiest salads you can make and it tastes pretty glorious.

The verdict? Sweet Caroline, this is glorious.

The goat cheese is creamy, the onions are sweet, the olives and dressing give the salad a sharp kick, the greens are crunchy and the chickpeas are little explosions of flavor studded throughout. The only thing that would make this better is the inclusion of pita chips….but there are very few circumstances in life that wouldn’t be vastly improved with the inclusion of pita chips.

If you make it, let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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