Vegetarian Meals

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

pasta salad in stone colored bowl, on white table with basil and sun-dried tomatoes

 

 

Need a quick side dish for your next dinner party?!  Look no further my friends!  The longest part of making this pasta salad is just waiting for the pasta to cook ( and if you like your pasta al dente, then you don’t even have to wait the full time on that)!

I love this pasta salad, because the dressing and mediterranean veggies give this it a fresh and light flavor.  Although this recipe doesn’t call for cheese, don’t be afraid to add some goat or feta cheese if you really want to take it to the next level!

In order to make the best use of your time, chop veggies and prepare the dressing while pasta is cooking.  Dump all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in dressing right before serving (to avoid getting everything too soggy).

 

Mediterranean pasta salad in stone colored bowl, topped with grilled artichoke hearts

 

For this recipe, I used Banza Pasta, a gluten free alternative to regular wheat pasta, so I wouldn’t feel all that guilty going back for a second serving!  You could really add any of your favorite mediterranean inspired veggies…my opinion is, the more the merrier!

For me…nothing beats fresh chopped basil (cue romantic background music).  Sun-dried tomatoes add a deep savory flavor, while grilled artichoke hearts give it an awesome salty and smoky flavor.  Add any sort of nut for crunch (a good crunch in any dish is a totally underrated quality) and call it a day!

The dressing is super easy, just a combination of 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, mixed with 1 part balsamic vinegar, along with dried Italian spices.  If you’re feeling really fancy and have lemons on deck…don’t be afraid to throw some of that in too!

I think the best thing about this dish is that it looks super fancy, but really only requires you to have the right ingredients on hand, that can then be dumped in a bowl and mixed together.  Give it a try, you guys will love it!

 

close up picture of large bowl filled with mediterranean pasta salad

 

 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Gluten free pasta filled with basil, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and onion!  Mixed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette and packed with vitamins, flavor, and healthy oils!
Prep Time13 mins
Cook Time7 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: appetizer, artichoke, basil, mediterranean, pasta salad, sundried tomato
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 bag or individual box, Banza GF Pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp red onion chopped
  • 3 halves marinated artichokes pulled from stem and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper each

Instructions

  • Cook pasta on stove top until soft, then rinse under cool water.
  • Transfer pasta to large bowl.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Add goat cheese or feta for added flavor!
Vegetarian Meals

Traditional Greek Salad

two greek salad with oil, balsamic vinegar, and cucumber on the side

 

Rounding out this Mediterranean themed week with my all time favorite greek cuisine…the simple yet flavorful, GREEK SALAD.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, David and I were lucky enough to make a trip to Greece last summer with a few of our friends, and let me tell you, it was a dream come true!

 

friends visiting mykonos town, mykonos greece

(The group in Mykonos Town, Mykonos)

The country is so old, history so rich, and the land is beautiful!  We toured the National Archaeological Museum and Acropolis, met some of the nicest and most accommodating locals, lounged on their sun filled beaches, and indulged in some of the best and freshest food (and drinks)!  

 

having drinks on a rooftop bar overlooking the acropolis is greece

(Enjoying those drinks at a bar overlooking the Acropolis!  Bar: A for Athens Cocktail Bar)

(Walking through the ancient Acropolis of Athens)

If I’m being honest, I always enjoyed Greek Salads here in the U.S., but they weren’t anything I’d obsess over.  So obviously, first day in Greece, I had to try out a traditional Greek Salad from the homeland to see how it compared.  Final verdict?  OH.MAH.GAWD. it was life changing.  And no lie, I ate one every.single.day.

You think one would get tired of eating the same food every day, but that was not the case at all.  It actually had the opposite effect, in that I required a Greek Salad with a side of fresh bread and olive oil, every day in order to survive.  The best way I can explain it is like this…I’m stuck floating out into space, and the Greek Salad is my oxygen filled space suit GIVING ME LIFE.

But I digress…

 

greek salad with block of feta and basil on top

 

Aside from the seriously ripe, home grown tomatoes and cucumbers, the biggest difference in Greek Salads in Greece vs Greek Salads in the U.S. is the FETA CHEESE.  Every place you went to in Greece gave you these big blocks of brine-soaked feta, drizzled with oil and oregano.  This was a GAME CHANGER.

One of my favorite brine-soaked feta blocks is made by Dodoni, an authentic Greek feta imported from the homeland itself!  I get mine at Costco in a big container, so as you can imagine it lasts me a while!  Trader Joe’s also has a good selection of blocked feta, so don’t be afraid to try it out and take the extra step of cutting it up ypurself…its worth it!

 

two greek salad with cucumber on the side and Dodoni blocked feta

 

So as you can imagine, I was determined to recreate this in my own home and I think this recipe is pretty darn close.  The key is to keep it simple.  Use large chunks of veggies, quality EVOO, and a big ol’ block of brine soaked feta for good measure!  Do not underestimate the power of simple, quality ingredients, as evidence by this life giving salad.

 

greek salad with block of feta and dodoni blocked feta container

 

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, sit back, relax…and take a picture to send to you friends telling them you took a last minute trip to Greece!

 

two greek salads with oil and balsamic vinegar on the side

 

Traditional Greek Salad

Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad
Keyword: feta, greek, salad, traditional
Servings: 2 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cucumber cut into large chunks
  • 2 tomatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 cup red onion sliced thinly
  • 1 large block of feta
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil chopped

Instructions

  • Dice cucumber and tomatoes in large chunks and add to bowl.
  • Thinly slice the raw red onion and sprinkle over top of cucumber and tomato mixture.
  • Drizzle oil and vinegar over salad mixture.
  • Cut a large block of feta and lay overtop individual salads.
  • Drizzle a little extra oil over feta and sprinkle whole salad with dried oregano.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped basil.
Vegetarian Meals

Roasted Chickpea and Arugula Salad

 

OKAY, so I don’t know if the rest of the world is as obsessed with roasted chickpeas as I am, but I seriously can’t get enough of them.  Pop them in the oven with some oil and spices, and OH MAH GAWD, YUM.  

 

Spiced chickpeas pre-oven

They become this perfect little storm of a toasted outer shell full of flavor, with a soft warm inside, which in my opinion…make them the perfect centerpiece for a salad!  Throw them on a bed of arugula with some (what I like to call) “accessories”, and it will complement almost any meal.

This salad could easily act as a side dish to a main course, or you could throw some rotisserie chicken or sausage to make it a full meal.  I personally like to accompany some homemade soup with this roasted chickpea salad!

Either direction you take this, you’ll be sure to love the nutritional benefit of chickpeas.  Full of protein and fiber, chickpeas are known to increase satiety and make you feel fuller for longer; therefore, leading to lesser consumption of other foods.  In addition, their low glycemic index helps to control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbs.  Not to mention they are super inexpensive…so buy in bulk and store in your pantry! 

I chose to accessorize my roasted chickpea salad with thinly sliced onions, shaved parmesan, and sliced almonds.  In order to keep chickpeas crunchy in a salad, mix your dressing in with the lettuce before you plate it, and then add chickpeas and other toppings on before serving!   

Onion, parmesan, and sliced almonds

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup raw red onion
  • 1/3-1/2 cup almond slices
  • 3/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or EVOO

Spice Mixture:

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Italian spice mixture

Serves: 2 Time: 45 min (40 min of bake time)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Rinse off chickpeas from 1 15 oz. can and add to mixing bowl.
  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to chickpeas and mix together.
  • Add your spices to mixing bowl; paprika, garlic, turmeric, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Make sure to cover chickpeas evenly.
  • Pour into a baking dish and bake for 40 min.  Spread them out so they cover the full surface of the baking dish for equal heat distribution.  Stir chickpeas half way through.
  • While chickpeas are baking, take spinach and arugula and add to mixing bowl.  
  • Chop onions and add to spinach and arugula mixture. 
  • Add your desired amount of dressing to arugula, spinach, and onion mixture, and mix well (I start with a smaller amount, then add more if needed—or leave dressing out for guests to add more if desired).
  • Take spinach and arugula mixture and dish out onto serving plates.  Shave or grate parmesan over each dish, sprinkle on shaved almonds, then top off salad with baked chickpeas.
  • Serve and enjoy!