Tuesday, July 13, 2010

0 Recipe #136: A Refreshing Summer Salad of Chickpeas, Tomatoes, & Cucumbers with Fresh Mint & Feta

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Just made this quick & easy salad for lunch. It's crunchy & colorful, low in fat & high in protein, and really hits the spot on a hot summer's day. I think it's a going to become a new favorite in our household. :)

A Refreshing Summer Salad of Chickpeas, Tomatoes, & Cucumbers with Fresh Mint & Feta

1 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), washed & drained (almost 2 c.)
2 c. cucumbers, peeled in an alternating stripe pattern, cut crosswise into 1/4" thick rounds & then quartered (about 1 large cucumber)
2 c. vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 2 large tomatoes)
1 c. fat-free feta, crumbled or diced into 1/2" cubes
1/4 c. red onion, sliced into thin (1/8" thick), small crescent slivers
1/4 c. whole scallions (including green stalks), sliced into 1/4" thick rounds (about 2 scallions)
1 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, finely minced
1/4 c. Italian flat leaf parsley, finely minced
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or finely milled sea salt)

Optional Ingredients:
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1/4 c. kalamata olives, pitted & halved
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ground sumac

Directions: Place all ingredients into a large salad bowl and toss. Either serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour to allow ingredients to marinate and further enhance the flavor. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, if using, just before serving.

Yield: Serves 2-3 persons as a main dish, or 4-6 persons as a side salad.

Suggested Accompaniments: Serve with toasted pita, or on a bed of spinach, couscous, or a nutritious whole grain like bulghur or quinoa.

Chef's Notes: For decorative purposes, you can also garnish this dish with a sprig of parsley or mint.

Also, instead of peeling the cucumber in a striped pattern, you can alternatively score the skin with the tines of a fork in a vertical direction, rotating the cucumber each time until you've gone all the way around the cucumber, and then cut it into 1/4" thick rounds. This creates a wonderful appearance and texture, and is much healthier for you, since the skin is where a lot of the vitamins are. Leaving the skin on also gives the salad a much livelier, crunchier texture.

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