A friend just got back from ten days on a Greek island, where the surrounding waters are a startling blue and the food is impeccably fresh. He described sitting outside on a rosemary-planted terrace, caressed by sea breezes, eating a salad like this one that is simple, bursting with flavors and textures, and deeply nourishing.
Chickpeas and couscous or rice combine to make complete protein, while fresh veggies add crunch and taste. Olives and optional feta cheese add Greek flair. If you canít get away to Naxos, this is almost like being there.
1 cup uncooked couscous, rice, or orzo pasta
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1 large ripe tomato, diced, with juice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more, to taste
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Romaine lettuce leaves, ripped into bite-sized pieces
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1. Cook couscous, rice, or pasta according to package directions. If using couscous, fluff with fork. If using rice, be sure all the cooking liquid is absorbed so the rice is dry, not sticky. If using orzo, rinse cooked pasta in cool water and drain.
2. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, tomato, pepper, onion, olives, chickpeas, and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Add dressing to vegetables and toss well.
3. On a serving platter, arrange the Romaine lettuce leaves, then mound the couscous, rice, or pasta on top. Cover with the mixed vegetables. Sprinkle with feta, if using, and serve.
By Cait Johnson, author of Witch In the Kitchen (Inner Traditions, 2001).