Marinated Chickpea and Feta Salad with Spring Veggies

published Apr 28, 2020
Marinated Chickpea and Feta Salad with Spring Veggies

This star of this crunchy, veggie-packed salad is a tangy Greek-inspired dressing, which doubles as a marinade for the feta and chickpeas.

Serves4

Prep30 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

In March, when the stay-at-home orders were first put into place, my meal planning fell to the wayside and my diet consisted mainly of cheesy pasta, cheesy pasta leftovers, and nightly slices of homemade cake. Like so many of us, I found comfort in these cozy carbs, and was happy to spend my extra time baking all types of breads and sweets.

But over the past few weeks, my cravings have shifted drastically. I’ve been yearning for the crunch of fresh veggies, the chew of whole grains, and the acidity of a homemade salad dressing. The shift is partially due to cheesy pasta fatigue, but also the arrival of warmer, sunnier days and, with it, the return of vibrant spring produce.

I was fortunate to be able to sign up for a seasonal subscription box from a local online farmers market, which has helped make my salad dreams a reality (many farmers markets and CSAs are open, with some new social distancing guidelines in place). The first thing I made was this herby chickpea and grain salad, which satisfies my fresh veggie cravings and my desire to get back into a lunch-prepping routine (it’s like a spring version of this Mediterranean-style chopped salad, which has been a lunch staple of mine since the fall). It’s tangy, crunchy, and oh-so-refreshing, and it only gets better as it sits in the fridge. Here’s how to make it.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

A Tangy Marinade That Doubles as a Dressing

The star of this salad is the Greek-inspired dressing, made with lemon zest and juice, dried oregano, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Before it dresses the salad, though, it acts as a marinade for the feta and chickpeas, infusing them with bright and tangy flavor as you cool the farro and prep the veggies. The garlic and shallot are also mixed in — the vinegar-y bath helps mellow their sharp bite.

When the rest of the salad is assembled, you’ll pour the feta and chickpea mixture and every last drop of the marinade overtop, then toss everything together. In the fridge, the flavors continue to mingle and intensify, which is why this salad is so great as a make-ahead option for lunch (or dinner). Just be sure to add your avocado right before serving.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

How to Make This Salad with Whatever You’ve Got

Even if we’re fortunate enough to have fresh produce, we’re all still making meals out of what we have on hand. Here are a few ideas for ingredient substitutions.

The whole grain: The farro adds chew and substance to this salad, helping to keep you full. Replace it with 1 cup cooked whole grain of your choosing — brown rice, barley, bulgur, freekeh, or quinoa. Consider making a big batch at once, then using it to make quick work of stir-fries, soups, and salads throughout the week.

The acid: For extra tang and complexity, this salad dressing is made with two kinds of acid: lemon zest and juice, and red wine vinegar. Feel free to use one or the other, or if you don’t have either, replace them with lime zest and juice, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

The alliums: Although garlic adds a subtle spicy kick to the dressing, feel free to omit it (or replace it with green garlic). Replace the shallot with half a red onion or a few scallions.

The veggies: Spicy radishes, plump snap peas, and crisp romaine all deliver crunch. Try replacing them with any combination of shaved fennel, snow peas, celery, edamame, shredded red or green cabbage, radicchio, or iceberg.

The herbs: The dried oregano in the dressing can be replaced with dried Italian seasoning or dried thyme. The fresh dill can be replaced with any tender, leafy herb you have (think: parsley, cilantro, or basil).

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. Once 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.

Marinated Chickpea and Feta Salad with Spring Veggies

This star of this crunchy, veggie-packed salad is a tangy Greek-inspired dressing, which doubles as a marinade for the feta and chickpeas.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup

    farro

  • 6 cups

    water

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    red wine vinegar

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried oregano

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 1 clove

    garlic

  • 4 ounces

    feta cheese

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    chickpeas

  • 6

    small radishes

  • 4 ounces

    sugar snap peas

  • 1

    medium avocado

  • 1/4 cup

    loosely packed fresh dill

  • 1

    large or 2 small romaine lettuce hearts

Instructions

  1. Cook the farro: Place 1/2 cup farro in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse under cool running water, and set aside to drain. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the farro and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Boil until the 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 thoroughly, spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet or transfer to a metal bowl, and refrigerate to cool. Meanwhile, make the marinade.

  2. Make the marinade: Place 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon into the bowl (about 2 teaspoons zest). Juice 2 tablespoons lemon juice into the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons dried oregano, the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, and several grinds black pepper, and whisk to combine.

  3. Prep the following ingredients, adding each one to the marinade as you complete it: Halve and thinly slice 1 small shallot (about 1/3 cup). Finely chop 1 garlic clove. Cut 4 ounces feta into 1/2-inch cubes. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Toss to coat everything and set aside to marinate while you prep the rest of the salad, at least 20 minutes.

  4. Make the salad: Prep the following ingredients, adding each one to a large bowl as you complete it: Trim and thinly slice 6 radishes (about 3/4 cup). Remove any tough strings from 4 ounces sugar snap peas (1 1/2 cups) and slice each in half diagonally. Dice 1 avocado (about 1 cup). Chop until you have 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill. Chop 1 large romaine heart crosswise into thin strips (2 cups). Add the cooled farro and toss to combine.

  5. Pour the feta and chickpea mixture and all of the marinade into the bowl with the vegetables and gently toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil as needed.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The marinated feta and chickpeas can be made 3 days in advance.

Storage: Leftover salad will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For maximum crunchiness, store the romaine separately. Add the avocado just before serving.