Zoë's Mediterranean Salad

Well this is a first for me. My very first blog post about food. It's not that I don't love eating or love talking about food, but I have never loved writing about food. It's one of the few subjects that doesn't really grab me. But, I've been receiving so many requests lately by my friends who live in Baja, where it's still hot, who are looking for ideas of recipes they can make with out cooking. So I have decided I am finally going to share my famous chickpea salad recipe that I invented about 12 years ago, and have been perfecting ever since.

It all started in Oakland, when my friend Marie came over for lunch and I made several different Mediterranean-inspired dishes - fava bean salad, tabouli, greek salad. There were a lot of leftovers, and I combined them and thought, wow, that's even more delicious! For the first several years of making this dish I used whole wheat couscous, until I realized that it was much easier to find rice in Baja, and it tasted even better with rice.  

So here is the current version of this salad. It's a one pot meal, as they say, which is fabulous to take to picnics and potlucks. And includes all the food groups (except meat). You can omit the feta cheese if you want, and then it's a vegan meal too! 

Oh, and I must mention this is one of my all time favorite meals that my whole family loves.

Zoë's Chopped Mediterranean Salad

(serves 4-6 as a main dish, with lots of leftovers)

  1. 2 cups of rice (White or Brown) 
  2. 3 cans chickpeas (depending on taste)
  3. 1 cucumber, peeled
  4. 1 red pepper
  5. 1 yellow pepper
  6. A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes halved (or chopped tomatoes)
  7. 1 green apple (other varieties will do as well)
  8. 1 white onion
  9. 1 bunch of green onions
  10. 1 bunch of finely chopped parsley
  11. 1 bunch of finely chopped mint
  12. 1 - 2 lemons (depending on taste)
  13. Feta Cheese (optional if you are vegan) (amount to taste)
  14. Olive Oil
  15. Chopped toasted almonds
  16. Cayenne (optional)

Cook the rice ahead of time and let cool completely. Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Chop all ingredients into bite size cubes and throw them into a large bowl. Mix them completely and then add olive oil and lemon to taste. Keep stirring and keep tasting until you are pleased with the balance. Add plenty of salt and pepper and I love a bit of cayenne as well. Serve with the toasted almonds on the side, as you will have leftovers and the almonds should not be left mixed with the salad lest they become soggy. If you serve it the next day, I recommend squeezing additional lemon on right before you eat it as the acid mellows over time.

Of course there are endless variations on this dish, but I recommend you try this recipe first and then start substituting and playing. Feel free to comment below with your substitutions.

For those of you who live in Southern Baja, I recommend the feta cheese from El Sol market. It's in the fridge, in the cheese section. It comes in an unlabelled clear plastic container, and it's local and delicious. One container should be enough for one dish.