Presenting my showstopper of the Eat the Rainbow & Mindful Eating theme, the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad with jewelled Labneh balls! Your lil bowl of sunshine that cheers the eyes, tantalizes your taste buds with its awesome lemony-garlicky-herby zest and most certainly satiates your tummy! Can’t tell you how much we all enjoy eating this fresh, crunchy, hearty & super delicious salad!!
Yes, I do use a lot of chickpeas or Kabuli Chana in my meals because I do believe this versatile legume offers tons of options to your daily food, be it in a curry, add them to your rice or salad or mashed as a filling into your parathas, or simply made into various flavoured hummus. Creamy yet non-dairy, lower fat than other oils, protein-rich, fibre filled & can be flavoured with any herb or spice of your choice! Also, being plant-based protein, they’re great for vegans too.
Salads are my favourite meal-in-a-hurry when I’m rushing with too many things to do in my day, have little time to cook a meal or need to pack a lunch box for yourself or the kids’ early morning. Just soak the chickpeas ahead, boil them & store in the fridge overnight & your battle is half won. Add your favourite veggies & season it just before serving.
Labneh balls are the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned! Always a fan of hung curd/yoghurt for various preparations, being low fat, I chanced upon the recipe for these pretty little studded beauties beginning of lockdown & decided to try them out on my family. Though apprehensive at first about what they were, they actually enjoyed the visual treat & what’s more, enjoyed the unique flavours too. After all, its totally up to you to garnish them to your taste. I have shown you a few samples of garnish above.
Hope you have enjoyed the rainbow ride so far. Just wanna say a big thank you to all of you for being so warm & supportive with all your comments & likes. Please do keep them coming. It truly makes the ride worthwhile for me!
Recipe for Mediterranean Chickpea Salad with Jewelled Labneh
- For the Salad
- 2 cups chickpeas / chhole / kabuli chana, boiled but firm
- 1 large ripe tomato, deseeded & chopped into cubes
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped into small cubes
- 1 red / yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup green parts of the spring onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup white portion of the spring onion, finely chopped
- 3-4 green / black olives, pitted & sliced
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese / cream cheese (optional)
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the Dressing
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons honey / sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh or dried coriander / parsley / dill / herb of your choice
- 1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper powder to taste
- In a large bowl, toss together chickpeas, cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, spring onions, olives and pomegranate seeds.
- Sprinkle fresh feta cheese & season lightly with salt and pepper.
- To make the dressing: In a bottle / jar fitted with a lid, combine olive oil, garlic bits, lemon juice, herbs, salt, mustard, honey & chilli flakes.
- Close the jar and shake until emulsified.
- Dress the salad only just before serving, for it to remain moist & juicy.
- To strain
- 1 litre whole milk yoghurt
- ¾ tsp salt
- To flavour
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Pomegranate seeds
- Rose petals
- Crushed nuts (pistachios, walnuts or almonds)
- Black sesame seeds, lightly roasted
- White sesame seeds, lightly roasted
- For the green savoury balls
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme/dill /oregano/basil or
- fresh coriander & mint leaves or
- your favourite ready mix of dried pizza herbs
- ½ teaspoon pepper powder/ red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- Pour the yoghurt into a large muslin cloth & stir in the salt.
- Pick up the edges of the towel and tie at the top. Hang from a kitchen sink tap to drain for 4-5 hours at least or overnight until the whey has completely drained out from the yoghurt. Detailed video available in my earlier recipe of Creamy Garlic Hung Curd Dip.
- Now open the towel, lightly coat your hands with some olive oil. Take a small lemon sized ball of the soft yet firm cream cheese between your palms & roll into a small ball.
- Dip /roll each ball in a small bowl or plate containing olive oil so that the herbs can stick easily.
- Immediately roll it in a plate containing the garnish of your choice & place in a bowl to serve.
- Similarly, make balls out of all the remaining labneh & decorate your bowl using a variety of garnishes.
- To serve, spread the labneh ball of your choice onto a piece of bread & enjoy with the Chickpea salad. Or have it just plain.
- Labneh balls can stay in the fridge for up to 24 hours easily in an airtight container.