October 31, 2009

Greek Salad and Dressing

This giant chickpea will consume us all!

The secret to a good salad? FAT. Screw the whole 1980’s schtick where fat – any fat – is the source of all unsightly ills. You actually need fat to absorb the nutrients offered by the raw ingredients in a salad*. Plus, if a salad doesn’t offer the tasty, and you’ll be feeling hungry in half an hour after eating it, what’s the point?

Don’t believe me? Good for you! The last thing you should do is trust a webpage thrown up by some random schmuck who won’t even give their last name and is a little shaky on the whole concept of “cameras.” Skepticism is the key when it comes to nutrition advice. Hell, skepticism – just asking yourself “Is this too good to be true?” – is the key to avoiding many awkward Better Business Bureau reports that start with “So I was trying to contact the dead while wearing my tinfoil hat when…”

I promise, this recipe involves no tinfoil hats and minimal conversations with those beyond the grave. Instead, it offers a flavor that can best be defined as AWESOME.

Greek Salad and Dressing
Adapted from Kittencal’s wonderful original recipe on Recipezaar.  Makes 4 dinner-size servings.

For dressing:
3 cloves of garlic, roasted/toaster oven’d until soft, then minced
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 Tbs dried or fresh basil, slivered
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white sugar
½ tsp salt
Good quality extra-virgin olive oil

For salad:
1 14 oz can (approx. 1 ½ cups cooked) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 medium tomatoes, each cut into eighths
8 oz baby spinach

Optional garnishes:
Sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced roughly
2 oz feta, crumbled (don’t cut it – break it up with your hands!)
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
Purple onion slivers
Freshly-ground black pepper

1. In a 1-cup measuring glass, dissolve the sugar and salt into the red wine vinegar. Stir in the Dijon mustard and taste the dressing base; it should have a pleasant and strong taste, and be well-balanced between salty, sweet, sour, and savory. Adjust as needed.

2. Stir in the minced garlic, pressing it against the sides of the glass to release the oils. Stir in the herbs.

3. Add enough olive oil to bring the total volume to one cup. Stir it well to mix the ingredients.

4. Divide the spinach evenly between four plates. Pile the peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and chick peas onto the spinach. Top with the garnishes (I really recommend the feta and sun-dried tomatoes), and pour the dressing over the top. Ta-da! AWESOME.

* Want to go to some decent – as in, non-blog – webpages addressing health claims? Check out the USA’s Health and Human Resources (specifically, here) for more info on my wacky claims, or the Food & Drug Administration’s Dietary Guidelines. A good rule of thumb when it comes to nutrition? Avoid taking advice from anybody who’s offering to sell you a product.  And bloggers. ;)

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