I have been known when I am out running errands and happen by a Trader Joe’s to pick up a tub of balela, a Mediterranean chickpea salad, and have it for a snack instead of choosing fast food on the road.
But at home it is really quite easy to make. The ingredients don’t have to be exact when making salad so that makes it easy. Of course, T.J.’s recipe doesn’t have any feta in it (and why not?) and also includes a little vinegar. I admit I wasn’t really out to copycat their recipe because I think this one is actually better.
I used lemon-infused olive oil in mine which I buy at specialty grocers or spice shops and I am pretty sure you can get it online. But fear not – you can make it with a good extra-virgin olive oil as well, which is available everywhere.
I used fresh herbs in this, too, which most grocers have, but you can substitute 1/3 of the amount in dried form (even though I am not really fond of dried mint). But you could probably also use a bit of fresh basil (and not the dried kind in this case).
This goes excellently with grilled pita bread. Just spray your pancake griddle up with nonstick spray and warm the bread on either side until it is aromatic and flexible. You can split the pita and stuff it with this if you like, or eat it with the pita cut into wedges. This is also good spooned over lettuce for a tasty salad, which you could also add grilled chicken to with perhaps a bit more of the dressing made.
I do hope you enjoy, We really love these kind of healthy and hearty salads and they make a really exceptional dinner when served with something like lamb Seekh kebabs on top.
Mediterranean chickpea salad (balela)
15-ounce can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
15-ounce can cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped onion (about half a small one)
2 ripe Campari tomatoes, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves (may use fresh basil)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf)
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup lemon-infused olive oil (may use regular extra-virgin olive oil)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, smashed with salt into a paste
1. Stir together the chickpeas, black beans, onion, tomatoes, herbs and cheese in a bowl.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper.
3. Gently stir dressing into salad.
4. Refrigerate salad several hours or overnight to meld flavors.
Related post on A Palatable Pastime: Greek salad