We have been working hard getting our property in shape for our first rental guests arriving this weekend, and when you are working hard, especially when you work outdoors, you get hungry. I have been enjoying preparing meals in my farmhouse kitchen since we returned to Umbria, using all the amazing fresh produce available at our outdoor produce markets. Though I love to cook, and we both love to eat, I try my best to keep our meals healthy as much as possible. I avoid fried foods, most red meat, processed foods, and try and incorporate as many plant based dishes into our weekly meal plan as possible. For our lunches, I love preparing hearty vegetable and grain soups, or big crunchy salads. I say it all the time, but my favorite salads have lots of texture, color, are full of flavor but must be healthy for you as well. This salad has all that and much more!
What is great about this salad is that you can play around with the ingredients depending on what you have on hand, what is seasonal, or what ingredients you prefer. As well as the vegetables I used in the photos, other options would be spring peas, baby fava beans, sweet corn, chopped cauliflower or broccoli florets. Just try to vary the colors of the vegetables you choose, to keep it as visually appealing as possible. In this salad, I included some chopped Kalamata olives and capers to add a briny piquancy, and chickpeas for added protein, but you could use whatever beans you prefer, or eliminate them altogether. I dressed this salad in a vinaigrette made with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a touch of Dijon mustard, and completed the salad with some crumbled Feta cheese. You could use crumbled goat cheese in place of the Feta, and even add some lightly toasted chopped walnuts or almonds if you like. I tossed in some chopped fresh parsley leaves and peppery arugula, but fresh basil, or mint would work well in this salad as well.
This is a great salad to take along to a picnic or barbecue, and holds up well in the refrigerator for a couple of days although it may not be as quite as crunchy as it was when you first made it. The addition of chickpeas makes this a very satisfying salad that could easily become the main course during the very hot days of summer. The key to making a chopped salad such as this one, is to carefully chop the vegetables into a small uniform dice, and use the same amount of each vegetable. This makes a big bowl of salad that will feed 8 to 10 people, but you can easily reduce the size, just remember to use the same amounts of each ingredient.
Deborah Mele 2014
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Sweet Red Pepper
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Carrot
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Celery
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Zucchini
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chickpea
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Fennel Bulb
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Summer Squash
- 1/2 Cup Roughly Torn Parsley Leaves
- 1 Cup Roughly Chopped Arugula
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Kalamata Olives
- 1/4 Cup Drained & Chopped Capers
- 1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Cup Feta Cheese Crumbles
- In a large bowl toss together the salad ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, then pour over the salad.
- Toss well to coat, taste, and adjust dressing ingredients, salt and pepper as needed.
- Sprinkle the Feta crumbles on top of the salad and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 17mg Sodium: 741mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 7g Protein: 6g