I’m not even sure where to start with this salad. Oh. my. goodness. So much happiness on one plate. I guess I will start by saying this salad is easily one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten. Each bite feels as if I’m taking in the entire Mediterranean. The salty air, white sandy shores, rugged cliffs, celestial blue waters…very good vibes, to say the least.
It’s pretty obvious by now my favorite flavors and recipes are inspired by the Mediterranean (like these spicy garlic shrimp wraps + tzaziki, vegan lemon chia muffins, and this warm tabbouleh salad). There are others, as well, but I think I would have a heart attack if I shared the pictures with you. Let’s just say I’ve come a long way with my food photography and am continuing to learn and perfect this new skill.
One reason I am so in love with the Mediterranean diet, besides the amazing flavors, is because of all the powerful and nutritious foods associated with it. The staples of the diet, which include foods such as olive oil, tomatoes, wild greens, herbs, spices, legumes, and fish, are often touted for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Meaning: these foods aid the body’s remarkable ability to reduce chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation in the body is essentially an overreaction of immune cells (source) and is associated with development of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers (source). The theory behind an anti-inflammatory diet is to consume foods that help reduce inflammation and therefore risk for certain diseases. One of the most well-known gurus of the anti-inflammatory diet, of which I am a huge fan, is Dr. Andrew Weil. His philosophy on the power of an anti-inflammatory diet in regards to our body’s inner ability to heal is fascinating. When I’m creating and developing recipes, showcasing foods that have anti-inflammatory benefits is a priority.
This salad, of course, is packed with anti-inflammatory super foods: spinach, chickpeas, red onion, roasted red bell pepper, walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s nourishing, filling, and can easily be made for an on-the-go lunch. This is my kind of salad, friends!
I hope you make, love, and share this recipe with all the wonderful people in your life! And don’t forget to tag and follow me @unrefinedrd on instagram, or pinterest or facebook if that’s your thing.
- For the Roasted Chickpeas:
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- For the Balsamic Dressing:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- pinch of salt, pepper, dried oregano, onion powder, and minced garlic
- For the salad:
- Baby spinach
- Deli-sliced roasted red bell peppers
- Sliced cucumber
- Sliced red onion
- Crumbled feta cheese
- Toasted walnuts
- For the roasted chickpeas, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (F).
- Drain and rinse chickpeas, then spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Add the spices (smoked paprika, coriander, cinnamon) and canola oil. Toss to combine.
- Roast chickpeas at 350 F for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until chickpeas are browned and crisp but not burnt.
- Set aside and let chickpeas cool.
- Meanwhile, toast walnuts over the stove top. Place them in a skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant (takes only a few minutes). Let cool on a plate.
- To prepare the balsamic dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine (you can also add dressing ingredients to a small jar with lid and shake to combine).
- To assemble the salad, place spinach leaves on a plate and top with roasted chickpeas, roasted red bell peppers, sliced cucumbers, sliced red onions, crumbled feta cheese, and toasted walnuts.
- Top with homemade balsamic dressing right before eating. Enjoy!