Monday, January 6, 2014

Michael Smith's Mediterranean Salad

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Happy New Year!

If you are like me, you are a few dollars lighter and a few pounds heavier after the holiday season.  Around this time of year, I really feel the need to detox and lighten the load some.  For me, that doesn't mean juice cleanses or leek broth diets, it means eating lighter and including more fruits and vegetables at every meal - something that is very important for keeping your energy up for the final push through winter.

This salad is a great way to do that because it is full of several ingredients that will boost your energy and keep you going.  One of the problems I have with salads is that they are too light - they don't keep me filled.  But this one eats like a meal, and the chickpeas and olives provide healthy fibre and fat that keep me satiated.

Either as lunch or as a side to a dinner meal, this is one salad that you will keep coming back to again and again.  It serves 4 - 6.  (I have modified it slightly from Chef Michael Smith's original version).


1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp English or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

1 - 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 small red onion, diced and soaked in cold water
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 - 19 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
15 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bits


1. Whisk first six ingredients together in the order listed (this will keep your tablespoon clean - trust me, I first did mustard and then oregano, and it was a mess!).  I like to make dressing in a small canning jar because then I can put on the lid, shake it up, and store the extra in the same jar.  Set aside.

2. In a salad bowl, mix the salad ingredients together except for the lettuce.

3. Toss the salad ingredients with as much dressing as you like and marinate in the fridge for an hour or so, if you have time.  If not, no problem.

4. When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the lettuce with some more of the dressing and then add the mixed ingredients on top.  Finish with the freshly group pepper.  Enjoy!

Shopping Tips:

1. Kalamata olives are the blackish purple ones.  You can sometimes buy them already pitted, but if not, just use the side of your knife to smash them gently and pull the pit out with your fingers.

2. Marinated artichoke hearts are usually sold in jars as opposed to cans.  If you have to use canned artichokes, make sure you rinse them first as they are quite a bit more acidic than the marinated ones.

3. Honey comes either pasteurized or unpasteurized.  I buy unpasteurized because it has more health benefits.  You can also buy different kinds of honey (wildflower, clover, etc.). These are based on the kinds of flowers that the bees were feasting on.  I really like wildflower honey.  I was also told last year that eating local honey can help with seasonal allergies.  Although I was a bit skeptical, I tried eating one teaspoon every day last year and found a noticeable difference…


1. You could make this with mixed Italian herbs instead of just oregano.

2. White wine vinegar would work if you don't have red wine vinegar.

3. You could also add a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top if you are so inclined.

4. If you are going to have leftovers, just make sure that you keep the lettuce separate from the rest of the dressed ingredients.  By doing so, this salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.  You might also want to leave out the tomatoes and add them at the last minute as well…

All in all, this is a great make ahead salad for potlucks, entertaining, or just for weekday lunches.  I have had several people comment that they do not normally like these ingredients separately, but mixed together with this dressing, it works!

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