So there’s this can of garbanzo beans in my cupboard that’s been flirting with me for a few weeks now. At first I thought it might be fun to make some of that fabulous little Curried Garbanzo dish I made last year for the Hunger Challenge but I realized I had no curry ingredients handy, so I scratched that and ignored the beans. Every few days it would catch my attention again, but I would get distracted by other things in my kitchen and worked with those instead. Lacking the energy or inspiration to do much of anything during such a sad week, I finally put this can to good use and turned it into a nice, easy salad that would bail me out of a couple of lunches or light dinner.
Another bean salad, Poor Girl? Yes, ma’am! (And/or sir. Sorry gentlemen, I didn’t mean to exclude you; you know I love ya.) Before you start moaning & groaning, hear me out for a bit. Aside from the simple-to-prepare and time-saving factors, a good bean salad is an easy way to have a pretty balanced one-dish meal. Packed with protein and fiber, legumes are great nutritional multitaskers. Add some chopped vegetables and a tasty dressing and you have either a fabulous lunch or a great side to complement those summer dishes that will soon be appearing on everyone’s tables. Like rice salads, they help you use up any leftover veggies so you don’t end up having to waste anything you don’t have to.
But my current favorite thing about bean salads – or just beans in general – is how international you can get with them just by changing up the other ingredients. From Indian to Mexican to everything in between, there are endless ways to spice up some legumes. This time around I thought I’d go the Mediterranean route, especially because I had just scored that giant cucumber and gorgeous tomatoes at La Superior during my last shopping trip. With some sliced red onions and a simple lemon & olive oil dressing, this turned out to be light & refreshing but definitely satisfying. Of course, you can’t do “Mediterranean” anything without some crumbled feta cheese, so some of that was thrown in as well. When all was said & done, I had enough food for a couple great meals and the whole recipe cost just around $3 to make. This recipe is easily doubled and would be perfect for summer potlucks & picnics, too. Let’s check it out!
Mediterranean Garbanzo Salad (makes 2-3 servings; total cost per serving: ~$1.50)
½ medium cucumber, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced into 1” pieces
¼ c crumbled low-fat feta cheese
2 T olive oil
3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ t dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Place all the veggies into a large bowl and toss together. Briskly whisk together the dressing ingredients, add to the beans & veggies, and toss together until completely coated. For maximum flavor, I strongly suggest letting this marinate a couple of hours if you have the time. When ready to serve, add the crumbled feta & toss together (or you can just crumble it on top as a garnish if you prefer). Serve by itself or as a side, top with freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy!