I actually thought Lebanese food was American food as a kid. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up with a Lebanese mother (who was also a caterer)! When I’m wanting a little taste of comfort, I don’t think first about things like mac ‘n’ cheese; I crave Middle Eastern cuisine. So here’s a salad I created that’s inspired by fattoush, a simple salad that ideally takes advantage of leftover pita bread. But I’ve given it a tasty twist with freshly-baked za’atar pita chips, a tahini-spiked dressing, and plenty of chickpeas. It’s a refreshing luncheon entrée salad (perfect for Meatless Monday!) that’s surprisingly comforting. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Calories saved: 128
Why it’s better for you: Better balance of carbs and protein to fit into more diets, including those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
- 2 whole-wheat or other whole grain pitas
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons za’atar (or mixture of dried thyme and sesame seeds)
- 4 packed cups mesclun or mixed baby greens (4 ounces)
- 1 (15-ounce) can organic chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup thinly sliced Kirby or English cucumber
- 1 cup heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup packed fresh small mint leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 recipe Lemony Tahini Dressing (see below)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush both sides of pitas with the olive oil. Sprinkle one side with za’atar. Cut pitas into 8 wedges each and arrange on a large baking sheet. Bake until brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. (Note: Baking time will vary based on thickness of pita bread.) Set aside on a rack to cool.
- In a large bowl, toss together mesclun, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, mint, and salt.
- Transfer to individual plates or bowls, add pita chips, and drizzle with the lemony tahini dressing. Adjust seasoning and serve. (Hint: If desired, sprinkle with some grated lemon zest a pinch of ground sumac for extra zing.)
Per serving: 360 calories, 18g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 40g total carbohydrate, 9g dietary fiber, 2g sugars, 12g protein
LEMONY TAHINI DRESSING: Whisk together 1/4 cup tahini, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. cold unsweetened green tea or water, 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 large minced garlic clove, 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, and 1/8 tsp. each sea salt and ground cayenne pepper. (Hint: Drizzle in a little more tea or water, if needed, for desired consistency.)
The “Before” Version
Inspired by Fattoush
Per serving: 488 calories, 32g total fat, 18g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 100mg cholesterol, 32g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 1g sugars, 21g protein
- Add a special touch to a salad by way of freshly-prepared pita chips or croutons (and make them whole grain to make the salad even healthier)
- Transform a side salad into a satisfying entrée salad with one simple ingredient addition: pulses, like chickpeas, beans, or lentils
- Don’t just use any salad dressing; make your own whenever you can … it takes just minutes (oh, and try tahini for adding creaminess to a traditional vinaigrette!)