Mediterranean Summer Salad

My old roommate and friend Micki used to make this salad in the summer, and as soon as the weather starts getting warm, I crave it and have to make it!

Micki is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met, but she rarely uses recipes. I don't think she ever made this salad the same way twice, so when I asked for the recipe, she gave me a basic ingredient list. I chopped and seasoned and tasted until I got it right.  It's perfect for Summer potlucks and cookouts, but don't be afraid to make it for yourself.

To make it a complete meal, add protein - like  a can or two of canned tuna, or serve it alongside some grilled chicken or salmon. The addition of canned tuna makes me especially happy because everyone - EVERYONE - can open a can of tuna! I know a lot of women who work from home and don't feel like making a big production at lunch time. Instead of eating a balanced lunch, they'll graze or snack and never get full, leading to cravings and overeating later. Make this salad on the weekend and then you'll have it for meals throughout the week. Just be sure to add protein!  (Yes, there is some protein in the garbanzo beans, but they are primarily a starch - not a protein.) 

Little known fact? Before living with Micki, I did not trust myself in the kitchen and was incapable of making toast without a recipe. (I'm exaggerating - but not by much.) My best advice to you here is to take this recipe and use it as a template. Make it your own! 

You could add a handful or two of fresh or roasted grape tomatoes or diced radishes, or a few tablespoons of diced sun-dried tomatoes or diced kalamata olives. Some sliced pepperoncini peppers add a good briny bite, too.

You can easily double or triple the recipe and feed a crowd quite inexpensively. For best results, make it the day before serving so the flavors have a chance to meld.

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

3 c. Garbanzo beans (adrained and rinsed)

2 cans of tuna, packed in olive oil 

1 c. English cucumber, peeled and diced (roughly same size as garbanzo beans)

1 orange, red, or yellow bell pepper, diced

1/3 c. Feta cheese*, crumbled

1/2 of a medium red onion, diced

4 basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 lemon, zested and juiced OR 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2-3 Tbs. olive oil

Season to taste with sea salt & fresh black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss lightly. Cover and refrigerate.

COOK'S NOTE:

I like to use the Mediterranean Herb Feta Cheese from Trader Joe's, but plain crumbled feta is fine as well.