Thursday, June 25, 2009

mediterranean pepper salad


I have to own up to something: I’ve lost interest in leafy salads. There was a time when we filled out every dinner meal with mixed greens with a light vinaigrette and any plate without them looked sparse. But somewhere along the line, the world of lettuce has been so co-opted by bagged and pre-washed, chlorine-tinged flavorless green leaf-looking structures (what, do I sound like I have a bone to pick with them or something?) that not even fancy restaurants are a reliable source of good leafy salads anymore, and so, for the most part, I’ve bowed out, making only occasional exceptions made for nice greens mix or crunchy, velvety Bibb lettuce at a farmers market.

red onionbell pepperskirby cucumberfeta

Leafy salads are overrated, anyway, especially in the face of the big crunch and longer fridge shelf life of mixtures like this. And well, I know that chasing chocolate snack cakes with such egregious healthfulness will likely encourage nothing but yawns, the truth is, little has changed since I coined myself months ago The Most Boring Pregnant Eater, ever, with my steady diet of grapes, raw broccoli and now sweet red peppers. [Don’t worry, I still had ice cream for dinner last night, except it was actually a frozen yogurt shake with a cup of chopped mango blended in — like I said, boring! ]

quick-pickled red onions

This salad is my current obsession. Well, technically, it’s an older obsession because I discovered years ago at Zabar’s and had completely forgotten about it until an errand brought me up to the area last week and I was famished. For salad. Yes, I know, I really need to work on that. Seeing as the store is 70-plus blocks from my apartment, learning to make it at home was clearly in order, not just for me but for those of you who might also want a rainbow salad and but are 70-zillion blocks away. And although it’s not a requirement that you use all of those colorful peppers, the fact that it’s the prettiest thing in my fridge doesn’t hurt when I’m standing in front of it, trying to figure out what to snack on. Or, you know, about once an hour.

mediterranean pepper salad

Pepper salads, previously: Black Bean Confetti Salad (with cumin-lime vinaigrette) and a Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers

One year ago: I kicked off Project Wedding Cake. Holy moly, I cannot believe it’s been a year!
Two years ago: Strawberry Chiffon Shortcake

Mediterranean Pepper Salad
Insprired by one you can buy at Zabar’s, but now no longer need to

I put my own spin on this, of course. I omitted the green peppers because, well, they’re not my favorite and I quick-pickled the red onion to sweeten and soften its blow. But really, my favorite part of salads like this is is that they can be kept in the fridge already dressed, and only grow more deliciously marinated in a day or two. Should they last that long.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, cut into a 1/2-inch dice (use less if your onion is huge)
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors (I used one red, orange and yellow)
1 kirby cucumber,
1/4-pound firm feta cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted kalmata olives
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Swish together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set it aside.

Meanwhile, time to practice your knife skills. Core and seed your bell peppers and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta and olives in a large bowl.

By now, your onions will have lightly pickled, both sweetening and softening their blow. Drain them and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl, but reserve the vinegar mixture. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste. Toss evenly and serve at once, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours.

Forgetful, who me? People, I just realized I forgot to add the cup of grape tomatoes that are usually in this salad, and that I’d purchased specifically to add to it. Like grape tomatoes? Add them! Don’t like them? Turns out you might not know they were missing.


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