Whether you eat plant-based full-time or want to go meat-free once a week, Tonight We Veg will bring you the feel-good vegetarian meals you crave. Twice a month, in addition to our existing lineup of great veggie recipes, we’ll share easy weeknight recipes that prove how diverse produce-forward food can be, each packed with smart tips we’ve picked up over the years. Cook along with us, and share your creations using #tonightweveg.
This is it, you guys: the ultimate make-ahead, no-wilt, not-sad, never-boring lunch salad. This is the one that gets me excited for my Sunday meal prep sessions; the one I send to my friends when they ask for a healthy, packable lunch they won’t get tired of by Wednesday; the one that made my meat-and-potatoes boyfriend declare “I love big salads!” (What?)
This recipe was born to satisfy your lunchtime needs — especially if you crave something fresh, crunchy, and flavorful that will keep you full throughout the afternoon. This is for when a simple leafy green salad won’t cut it, but a super-heavy grain bowl will leave you feeling overly stuffed.
This salad strikes the perfect balance: Protein-packed chickpeas and farro add substance, but all the crunchy veggies give it texture and keep it feeling light.And by chopping everything into similar-sized pieces, it’s easy to eat — and ensures you get a bit of everything in every bite.
A Flavorful, Versatile Salad That Gets Better as It Sits
This recipe is a mashup of two of my favorite salads: Ina Garten’s Greek Salad and Nancy Silverton’s Chopped Salad. I kept some of the classic Greek salad components: cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and feta cheese, and I added in my favorite elements of the Italian chopped salad: chickpeas, pepperoncinis, and a base of iceberg and radicchio. I left out the tomatoes and added celery for extra crunch, and stirred in farro for chew and heft. Oh, and I made sure to toss it all in my favorite part about both: a tangy, garlicky vinaigrette spiked with plenty of oregano.
The best part of this recipe is that it gets better as it sits. Everything but the lettuces is tossed in the vinaigrette, and stored in the fridge — where the veggies, chickpeas, and farro have a chance to absorb the intensely delicious dressing. The morning you’re planning on eating it, you just add the chopped greens. The greens will pick up some of the residual vinaigrette, but you can also drizzle a bit more on top (the recipe makes extra for that exact purpose).
Not into eating a salad every day? You can use the base to create a number of different lunches. Here are three ideas: Skip the greens and stuff the veggie-chickpea mixture into a hummus-swiped pita pocket, or roll it into a wrap. Add more farro and eat it as a grain-bowl. You can even pile it into cup-shaped butter lettuce leaves and make crunchy lettuce wraps.
Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
For the dressing (yields about 1 cup):
- 4 cloves
- 1/4 cup
red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup
extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad (yields about 7 cups):
- 1/2 cup
farro (either semi-pearled or pearled is fine; cooking time will differ)
- 1 teaspoon
kosher salt, plus more as needed
medium bell peppers
large or 4 small stalks celery
medium English cucumber
small red onion
small pickled pepperoncinis
- 6 ounces
feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 (15 to 15.5-ounce) can
- 1/2 head
- 1 head
Make the vinaigrette: Mince 4 cloves garlic and place in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and several grinds black pepper, and whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Pour half into an airtight container and transfer to the refrigerator. Set aside the bowl with the remaining vinaigrette.
Make the salad: Place the farro in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse under cool running water, and set aside to drain. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the farro and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Boil until farro is tender but has a slight chew in the center, 10 to 15 minutes for pearled and 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled. Drain and return to the saucepan to cool.
Prep the following ingredients, adding each one to the bowl of vinaigrette as you complete it: Core, seed, and dice 2 bell peppers (about 2 cups). Dice 2 large or 4 small celery stalks (about 1 cup). Dice 1/2 English cucumber (about 1 cup). Thinly slice 1/2 small red onion into half-moons. Slice 8 small pepperoncinis (about 1/4 cup). If needed, cut 6 ounces feta cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas.
Add the farro to the vinaigrette bowl and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt as needed (likely about 1/2 teaspoon). If the salad is at all dry, drizzle with a bit of the reserved vinaigrette. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
Core and chop 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce into thin strips (4 packed cups). Core and chop 1 head radicchio into thin strips (3 packed cups). Transfer both to a large airtight container, toss to combine, and refrigerate.
When ready to eat, toss together equal amounts the chickpea mixture and lettuce mixture (about 1 cup of each). Drizzle with the reserved dressing, if desired.
Storage: The chickpea mixture, dressing, and greens can be refrigerated separately up to 5 days.
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