Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

I don't eat salads a lot... I'd rather eat my vegetables cooked rather than raw.

I'm sure a lot of you out there agree with me.

That's why I am more of a soup person.

Plus I have this thing about cucumbers... and they always make their way into salads. It's wierd. I won't bore you with the details.

But! Here is the thing- this salad. It's good.

You need to take it seriously though and look at the components. If you don't like the components of the salad, it's just never going to work out. Your doomed from the start. I'm mostly talking about you people out there that hate beans.

So let's see- a magical combination of chickpeas, olives, red onion, tomato, cucumbers, feta and romaine? If there is anything there that you just can't move past then you're not going to like this salad.

If you're feeling pretty good about all those ingredients then consider yourself lucky! Because this is one great salad.

All the textures and flavors.... they just work. And this is coming from a non-salad, soup person.

Here's a side note- Are you a cucumber freak too? For me, its the skin and the seeds... I just can't handle it. I have to make sure to buy the little gherkin, pickling cucumbers and peel them and then cut them into quarters to cut off the seeds. I even go as far as chopping the cucumber into pretty small pieces. So after a little adjustment, I really have no problem letting cucumbers into my salad.

Don't get me wrong though, you can always personalize a salad to your own tastes. I could have left out the cucumbers. Or if I couldn't find cherry tomatoes (which I couldn't) I could just seed and de-water roma tomatoes, then chop those up. Or! If kalamata olives aren't your thing, go ahead and use regular black (which I also did... too much sour, vinegar flavor is a turn off for me). Salad's are tweakable.

I almost forgot! This is a Cooks Illustrated recipe after all so it has to involve some sort of clever technique. They salt the water loaded veggies before tossing everything together! This extracts all the extra water that pools once the dressing is mixed, isn't that great? I just love it, it made SUCH a difference. The flavor wasn't watered down at all and nothing got soggy even after sitting for a while. GENIUS.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Print Recipe

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
Table salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (Optional.)
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Ground black pepper

Combine cucumber, tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl and let stand 15 minutes.

Whisk oil, vinegar, and garlic together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber and tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, onion, and parsley; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

Add romaine and feta; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.  

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