Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

by Anne Bennett on May 6, 2012

I eyeballed ingredients as they went into the bowl, stopping when there was just enough tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, etc. Let your eyes be your guide.

Really great tomatoes are still awhile off. July perhaps. In the meantime, this recipe adapted from Ina Garten is ideal for when you want a cool, tomatoey salad without having to endure the wrong kind of crunch (from unripe hothouse tomatoes. What could be worse?).

I'd follow that smile right into the kitchen!

First, a few words about Ina. She is quickly becoming the queen of easy. To date she has published a raft of best-selling cookbooks, two of which concentrate on the basics, “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients,” and “Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? Fabulous Recipes and Easy Tips.”

And if those two aren’t simple enough, in October she’s releasing another sure hit, “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust.”

What? We couldn’t trust the recipes in her other books?

Ina’s editors are brilliant: they had the foresight to understand that today’s young adults were weaned on the microwave and thus lack basic cooking skills. In her TV shows Ina is presented as the perfect, non-threatening, motherly type with an endless, comforting smile that appeals to culinary fearfuls. Add to that the fact that her cookbooks are regularly stocked at Costco and you’ve got the new, improved Betty Crocker for the 21st century.

Ina and I are from the same generation (she’s two years older than I) and yet even I am swept away by her “you-can-do-it-too” attitude. Host a dinner party for eight with no stress? Easy-peasy. She goes about party preparation with the blasé confidence that I could only accomplish by first downing a half bottle of wine.

Look, I’m not making fun here. Ina’s recipes work. For the most part they really are simple and many of them are actually inspired as well. If you are less-than-confident in the kitchen, I highly recommend any one or all of her books. It’s high praise when I say that I have never had one of her recipes fail.

I adapted the following recipe. Ina calls for ripe tomatoes, which as I said are unavailable now. I also amended the quantities of ingredients to suit my tastes. She calls for a whole cucumber, but I stopped when I had about 2/3 of one chopped into the serving bowl. Use your judgement.

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad
(titled Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad in “How Easy is That?”)

1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 to 1 seedless cucumber, quartered lengthwise and diced into 1/2″ pieces
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
4-to-8 oz. diced feta cheese
salt and pepper

Place scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, basil and mint into a large serving bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, 1 t. salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil (or do what I do and just shake it all up in a jar). Lightly dress the salad and taste for seasoning. Add the feta cheese and toss gently.

Serve with toasted pita bread.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Amy Kamm May 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

This salad screams summer to me!!! I love it.

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