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COOKING | Magazine

Recipes: Three easy and light salads to cool you down in the heat of August

These Mediterranean salads are quick and easy to pull together.

Greek Bean Salad (Fasolia Piaz).
Greek Bean Salad (Fasolia Piaz).Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Few salads could be simpler than the classic Greek combination of tomato, cucumber, onion, oil, and vinegar. But that mixture, which is common across the Eastern Mediterranean, is just one example of the region’s savory, vibrant, and textured salads. Greek fasolia piaz features plump white beans, thinly sliced red onion, creamy chunks of avocado, and a tangle of fresh herbs. Our interpretation of Lebanese salata adas combines garlicky lentils and heaps of fresh parsley and feta cheese with a bright lemony dressing. And in fatteh, often served as a breakfast in the Levant, toasted pita provides crouton-like contrast to chickpeas and enough mint to be mistaken for salad greens.

Greek Bean Salad (Fasolia Piaz)

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Makes 6 servings

We swap the large, flat butter beans typically used by Greek cooks for easier-to-find cannellini, and opt for the convenience of canned. But to compensate for the blandness of the canned beans, we heat them in the microwave, then toss them with oil, vinegar, and aromatics while still hot. As the beans cool, they absorb the seasonings, so they’re flavorful throughout.

The beans can be heated, dressed, and refrigerated up to a day in advance; if you like, bring the beans to room temperature before tossing with the avocado, herbs, and lemon, but even cold the salad is delicious. To keep the flavors and colors fresh and bright, add the avocado and herbs right when you’re ready to serve.

4 15½-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more, to serve

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped into ½-inch pieces

1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, torn if large

½ cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped

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1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large microwave-safe bowl, toss the beans with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through.

To the hot beans, add the garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Let stand until cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Stir the beans once again, then stir in the avocado, parsley, dill, and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional oil.

Garlicky Lentil and Parsley Salad With Feta.
Garlicky Lentil and Parsley Salad With Feta.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Garlicky Lentil and Parsley Salad With Feta

Makes 4 servings

Green lentils retain their shape and texture with cooking, so they’re an ideal choice for making lentil salads like this one. Either regular green lentils or French green lentils (Puy lentils) work well here, so use whichever you prefer.

A couple of spices, good olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, and a good dose of parsley turn this into a satisfying side dish.

Because the lentils are delicate and prone to breaking, make sure to let them cool before dressing so that they don’t turn mushy as they’re tossed.

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

8 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1½ cups green lentils (see headnote), rinsed and drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

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¼ cup lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve

2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 3 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin and cloves and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lentils, 2 teaspoons salt, and 4 cups water, then bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to low heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 40 minutes.

Drain the lentils and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature, gently fluffing once or twice.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and the shallots; set aside.

To the cooled lentils, add the lemon-shallot mixture, parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and ½ teaspoon salt, then toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, scatter the feta over the top, drizzle with additional oil, and sprinkle with additional pepper. Serve with the lemon wedges.


Pita and Chickpea Salad With Yogurt and Mint (Fatteh)

Makes 4 servings

This dish is a way to turn stale pita bread into a hearty meal. We, however, start with fresh pita, brush it with butter, and crisp it in the oven, then break it into shards before topping the pieces with warmed chickpeas. Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually includes sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, and oregano, adds complex flavor. But the za’atar is optional; even without it, the salad is delicious and satisfying. If you like, instead of mint, use flat-leaf parsley or a combination.

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Don’t cut back on the butter that’s tossed with the toasted pine nuts. It may seem like a lot, but the butter adds a sweetness that balances the tang of the yogurt and makes the dish taste full and deep.

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

¼ cup tahini

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 8-inch pita breads, each split into 2 rounds

5 tablespoons salted butter, melted, divided

2½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided

¼ cup pine nuts

1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1½ teaspoons za’atar, plus more to serve (optional)

1½ cups lightly packed fresh mint, torn if large

Heat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.

Arrange the pita on a rimmed baking sheet. Use 2 tablespoons of the butter to brush both sides of each round, then sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons of the cumin. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip each round and continue to bake until browned and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool; reserve the baking sheet.

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While the pita cools, distribute the pine nuts on the reserved baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Immediately transfer to a small bowl and toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, the remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, cayenne (if using), and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, toss the chickpeas with the za’atar (if using), 1 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through. Meanwhile, break the pita into bite-size pieces and place in a wide, shallow serving bowl or divide among 4 individual bowls.

Using a slotted spoon, arrange the warmed chickpeas over the pita. Spoon on the yogurt mixture, top with mint, and spoon on the pine nut-butter mixture. Sprinkle with additional za’atar (if using).



Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.