Greek-Inspired Salads for Lunch or a Light Dinner

Greek-inspired salads for lunch or a light dinner are a great option. Greek ingredients add authentic flavor to the following salads.

Greek Orzo Salad with Feta

2 cups cooked orzo

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup sliced cucumbers

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup feta, crumbled or cut into small chunks

3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Baby spinach leaves

In a large bowl, combine the orzo with the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, feta, and mint. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Let stand 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve over spinach leaves for a vegetarian entree, or top with grilled chicken. Any leftover orzo salad keeps well refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To cook the orzo: Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add a pinch of salt and add 1 cup uncooked orzo, stir, and allow to cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. One cup uncooked orzo yields about 2 cups cooked. If preferred, vegetable stock can be substituted for the water.

Chickpea and Artichoke Salad

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 lemon, juiced, or more to taste

2 tablespoons Greek extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint, or to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, or to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or to taste

Combine chickpeas, artichokes, celery, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mint, oregano, and thyme together in a salad bowl. Toss to coat completely. Serve immediately with fresh bread.

Chickpea Salad with Feta

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, (Recipe follows)

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 small-medium cucumbers, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 small-medium red onion, sliced thinly

Black olives, of your choice, pitted, if preferred

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup feta, crumbled

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and add the quinoa, cook until the liquid is absorbed, then set aside to cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, stir together the chickpeas, vegetables, olives, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, feta, and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

To cook chickpeas:

1 package (1 pound) dried chickpeas

1 large onion, chopped or cut in quarters

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 bay leaf

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Lemon, to taste

Greek extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Sort, rinse, and then soak the chickpeas overnight in a large, deep pot with enough water to cover them by two inches at least. After 6-8 hours of soaking and when you are ready to cook them, drain the soaking water and refill the pot with fresh, cold water enough to cover the beans by at least two inches. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce to medium and simmer, skimming and discarding the foam that may form on top. Add a 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and freshly ground pepper and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about an hour. Add a cup or so of boiling water if the water seems to have evaporated and the chickpeas are not yet tender. Once the chickpeas are tender serve hot with freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and a drizzle of olive oil, if preferred, or drain 2 cups of chickpeas for use in salads as noted above.


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