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Taverna Salad

Next time you make a salad, forget the romaine and make this leafless salad instead. It's named after the small cafes in Greece, or tavernas, that serve traditional Greek cuisine. Greek salads usually contain tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese. This version, adapted from the NYT Cooking section, also includes chickpeas, bell peppers, Kalamata olives and capers. It's so filling that you can serve it as a main course for a healthy lunch or light dinner.

Want more options? Leave out the chickpeas and serve this colorful salad as a side with grilled chicken or shrimp. I've also served it tossed with pasta and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. If you've got crusty bread, you can gild the lily and serve it as bruschetta.

This brings me to the NYT dressing, which contains 1/3 cup of olive oil. That may sound like a lot, but this salad serves 6. That's less than 1 Tbsp. of olive oil per serving. And here's a word about unsaturated fats (i.e. olive oil) from the Harvard School of Public Health: "Unsaturated fats are considered beneficial fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms and play a number of other beneficial roles."

Just sayin'. Go ahead and dig in... with moderation.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. minced garlic

½ tsp. dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded and diced into ½-inch pieces

½ large English cucumber, halved, seeded and diced into ½-inch pieces

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup minced red onion or shallot

2 Tbsp. capers, drained and coarsely chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4 oz. reduced-fat feta cheese

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with the vinegar, garlic and oregano. Whisk vigorously to combine then season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, bell pepper, cucumber, olives, parsley, red onion, capers and scallions. Pour the dressing over the salad, add crumbled feta cheese and toss well.

Serves 6

WW Points per serving: 6

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