On a recent lunch trip to Panera Bread, I disappointed in the very loose interpretation of a Greek salad. You can’t just throw feta cheese on a bed of romaine and call it Greek. Well, I guess technically you could since those items originate in Greece, but that’s just not the end of it. I really like Panera, but this was my first time having their “Greek” salad and it left me wanting to eat a jar of kalamata olives. That’s right, I said a JAR. That’s because I love olives of all kinds and when I have a Greek or Mediterranean salad, I expect to have some.
Fast forward to today and I have decided that I want a “real” healthy & delicious Greek meal and I can’t wait to eat! On the menu:
- Hummus (and chips)
- Greek salad
Hummus is super easy, but takes some (inactive) time and trial and error:
Soak some garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) following the package directions (I do the quick soak). 8 oz or so is plenty for 2 1/2 people at lunch (that’s about half a small bag). While the beans are soaking, go do something else like replenish your cleansers, rearrange some furniture or accessories, read my blog… fun stuff like that!
After soaking, cook the beans according to package directions. While the beans are cooking, you can gather the rest of the ingredients for the hummus then start on the prep for the Greek salad and Tabbouleh. OR you could use canned beans and skip all that extra time.
4 cloves garlic, minced – half to mix in the puree, half for the “garnish”
kosher salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup reserved bean water
1/4 cup tahini, stirred well
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil – half to mix in the puree, half for the “garnish”
When the beans are done, let them cool a little then transfer them to the blender or food processor. Add some garlic to taste (about half of what you minced), lemon juice, olive oil (about half of what you set aside), salt and Tahini. When it’s all blended to a course puree (use the reserved water to thin it out if you need to), put it in a cute little dish, use the back of a serving spoon to make and indention in the middle and fill it with rest of the olive oil and garlic.
The Greek salad is fast and easy too:
Rough cut some Romaine lettuce, throw in some cherry tomatoes (or any other kind of tomato cut to bite size), sliced cucumber, sliced red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, capers (optional salty yumminess).
Toss it all together and pour a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and maybe a little salt and pepper. Here’s a tip: make enough of this dressing to use on this salad and the Tabbouleh since the dressing for that is very similar – you can tailor it to your taste.
You could certainly add some meat to this, but for lunch it’s perfectly refreshing as is.
Tabbouleh is pretty straight forward except that I NEVER have bulghur on hand, so I use plain couscous.
Cook the couscous following package directions (I make it right in the bowl I’m going to serve it from – less dirty dishes). Takes about 5 minutes, tops. When it’s done add chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes, mint, parsely, green onion/chives and a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Or just use some of the dressing from the Greek salad.
So, not counting bean soaking and cooking time, you could have a FAB Greek lunch in something like 20 minutes or so (maybe 30 depending on your knife skills 😉 ) Share it with a friend, your honey, the kids, or the whole fam. This is even scalable to feed a crowd without breaking the bank!