The goodness of chickpeas, quinoa, loaded with spinach and veggies, feta – all enveloped in a creamy lemony tahini dressing. Easy to assemble with the simplest, no-fuss ingredients, a salad that isn’t at all boring but a balanced meal in itself!

Until two years ago, my idea of salad was greens and carrots thrown together on a plate. Perhaps I need not explain that salads represented penance to me, with veggies topped with a store-bought dressing. I wouldn’t consider salads a meal, and would ‘punish’ myself with a salad every once in a while to compensate for a meal that I went overboard with earlier in the day, fooling myself with the notion that a few greens forced in would negate the damage done from a calorie-laden, rather generous slice of cake that’s also devoid of any nutrition.

As I adapted to healthy eating choices and fitness, I realized that my whole conception of salads was misplaced. Salads are NOT a punishment – they can be made with ingredients you love, and can relished, enjoyed even. Salads DO NOT mean a pile of veggies you never wanted to eat otherwise- there are infinite combinations possible using different vegetables, seeds, legumes and grains. Salads do not have to be exclusively raw – you could employ techniques like steaming, blanching, blending, stir-frying and sautéing to play a bit with the textures.

Chickpea Quinoa Feta Vegetable Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing

And don’t even get me started on the dressings – the possibilities are endless here, depending upon your preferences and mood. Make a simple vinaigrette/ include mustard/ mayonnaise/ pepper/ lemon or whip up a small batch of hummus to throw in the salad bowl. Like I said, countless options. If using store-bought dressings, do yourself a huge favor and check the ingredients thoroughly before purchasing – ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, malt dextrose, not to mention harmful food coloring and additives. Over time I’ve realized that homemade dressings are better – taste-wise and nutrition-wise.

I sometimes try to make a salad a balanced meal in itself, instead of something as a side, and this salad was a result of one such effort. Quinoa, chickpea, feta and sesame seeds in the dressing inculcate ample protein and essential fats, while veggies serve as a micronutrient powerhouse as well as dietary fiber. If you do not have feta cheese handy, add paneer/ cottage cheese, although I find feta’s tangy flavour practically irresistible.

Chickpea Quinoa Feta Vegetable Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing

RECIPE: CHICKPEA QUINOA FETA VEGETABLE SALAD WITH LEMONY TAHINI DRESSING

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight, boiled (canned ones can be used too)
  • 200 gms quinoa
  • 1 cup spinach, cleaned
  • 1 bell pepper, red or yellow, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red cabbage, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic pods, minced
  • 1 cup spinach, roughly sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced into quarters
  • ½ cup carrots, chopped
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 2 tbsp pepito/ pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tbsp sunflower oil

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR DRESSING

Grind/ blend sesame seeds, salt, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice together to a paste. Add more lemon juice/ water to adjust the consistency for dressing. Set aside.

FOR SALAD

Heat a non-stick pan and toast the pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds mildly for crunch. Heat sunflower oil in the pan, add mushrooms, garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes till they’re cooked. Add spinach, stir and turn off the flame. Set aside to cool.

Soak quinoa for instructed time and rinse till you see no foam. Bring water to boil in a saucepan and cook as per instructions on the pack. Allow to cool.

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss well. Drizzle the dressing on top.

Devour!

I’d love to hear how this recipe turned out for you, if you tried it. Do post a pic on Instagram and tag #fitfoodiediary in the picture!

NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving)*

Energy 345 calories
Protein 14.2 g
Fat 13.1 g
Carbohydrates 42 g
Of which, Fiber 12.3 g

*Recipe is for 4 servings; all values in grams.