Gosh, I was looking back at my last few posts, and I realized…that’s a lot of sweets! Someone may get the wrong idea about what we’ve been eating. We have, in fact, been eating very well, thanks to the current issue of Vegetarian Times. My favorite magazine for easy, healthy and delicious recipes!
So…a couple of Saturday’s ago, my husband and I had a smoked meat-apalooza. I know, I know…what were we thinking? I’ll tell you what we were thinking. MEAT! Simple enough. We have an amazing authentic barbeque place here in the city, and they were calling our name. It’s true, they were! We had…pulled pork, brisket, chicken, ribs, cornbread and sides. The whole meaty deal. It. Was. Awesome! Aaaand then reality hit, and I was up most of that night with a stomach ache. Ugh.
When Monday rolled around, I needed to make my grocery list and meal plan for the week. Sometimes, I love doing that. Other times? I hate it! I just want to hit the store and buy whatever I feel like. But I find that when I do that, I come home with things we don’t need, or shouldn’t have--you know the deal. I have to plan meals. Have to.
Do you guys have a system for that? I always wonder if I’m just silly and a bit too uptight about it. We need a plan. Especially since we eat so many fresh veggies and fruit! I need to keep track of what I bought the fresh stuff for, so we can be sure to use it before all it’s going to feed are the two compost bins out back! I decide what we’re having for the week, add my ingredients to the list (which is a notebook), and then list out the individual dishes in the back of the book so I remember them. What do you guys do?
So! I needed a meal plan last Monday, and I needed it fast. Hello, Vegetarian Times! The current issue has this great article called “By special request…” Basically, a reader wanted a way to shorten her time at the grocery store. Their response was five recipes that all had the same five essential ingredients in common. The five ingredients?
- Diced tomatoes
- Chickpeas (dried or canned)
- Baby spinach
- Red bell peppers
With these ingredients, plus other basic things that are easy to find or that you may already have, you can make five different recipes. As a bonus, each one can be made in 30 minutes or fewer!
You may be asking, “With all the same ingredients, won’t that be boring?” My honest answer? No! We’ve had three so far, and each one has been very different than the last. We’ve loved each of these, and I‘m pretty sure we’ll be happy with the last two. They have ingredients that we love, so how can we go wrong? I’ll start with this one, and then follow up with the other four.
About the salad. I didn’t think that the lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic drizzle would be enough to flavor this salad. Amazingly, it was! It was actually addicting. I wanted more, like an endlessly filling bowl of salad from Hogwarts! It’s everything you want in a main dish salad. Great flavor, cold, crunchy…just so good. I didn’t have sunflower seeds to top it with but we use Aurora Salad Fixin’s, which are even better! Also, an optional ingredient is diced canned tomatoes. I just can’t bring myself to add those to a salad, so I used grape tomatoes.
Chickpea and Feta Salad
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced leek (white part only) or red onion
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 medium carrots, julienned (about 1 cup)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds or other crunchy salad topping
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2" ribbons
3/4 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle over the top
In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and oil.
Stir in the leek, add salt and pepper if you'd like, and set aside.
Take a small pile of spinach leaves, stack them up, roll them up, and then slice across to make strips. Continue until you've done all the spinach leaves.
In a large bowl, combine spinach, chickpeas, carrots, bell pepper and sunflower seeds or other crunchy topping.
Stir in the leek mixture and toss well to combine.
Divide romaine among serving plates and top with chickpea mixture.
Garnish each salad with feta and Balsamic.
- Would I make this again? Yes! Going to have it again this week, in fact.
- It’s everything I like in a main dish salad--crunchy, packed with stuff, hearty and filling.
- I use canned chickpeas in this dish.
- It’s wonderful as is, but it’s salad--they’re versatile! Something you don’t like? Replace it with something you do like.
- After eating these dishes all week, I can almost hear our bodies saying “Meat? What meat?”