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Mediterranean Salad with Dairy-Free Feta

Want a crunchy, filling salad without the lettuce? Try this Mediterranean Salad with Dairy-Free Feta



This is my new favorite spring/summer salad. It's crunchy to the max, full of flavor and the perfect side/topping to so many meals (I list some recommended pairings at the bottom of this post - all of which I used it for this past week, so I can confirm the deliciousness). The fresh herbs are optional but I highly recommend using them - to me, nothing tastes more like spring than fresh herbs! I used dill and parsley for this and it was perfect. This is an ideal salad to bring to the beach or park for a picnic or kept in the fridge for a last minute, quick and filling meal.


Because this salad keeps its crunch so well for up to a week, it's perfect for meal prep. While the Feta takes a little while to marinate, the rest of the salad comes together in the time it takes to cook the farro (about 20 min).


I also recommend doubling the Feta recipe (using the whole block of tofu instead of half) so you can use it to top other foods (i.e. everything) throughout the week. If it's getting a little dry, just add more olive oil. You can either crumble or cube the tofu to make the feta - for snacking on it plain, the cubed is nice, but for salads like this and used as a topping, I prefer crumbled.



Dairy-Free Feta can be made cubed or crumbled

This vegan feta is such a good staple to keep in the fridge to instantly elevate the flavors and add a creamy texture to any meal while also boosting the protein - just 3 oz of tofu (about 1/4 of a block) has 9 g of protein!


Other uses for the Dairy-Free Feta


  • to top roasted veggies

  • paired with hummus as a dip for crackers

  • sprinkled on mashed potatoes

  • on pizza

  • in a veggie pita sandwich

  • eaten plain out of the jar



You can also switch up the types of beans used - I love the heartiness of chickpeas and the creaminess of white beans, but feel free to use what you have!

As with all plant-based foods, it's important to switch it up for optimal gut function - variety is key when it comes to fiber. The tiny bugs in our GI tract (called probiotic bacteria) feed on plant fiber (which we can't digest without them). Different types of fiber feed different types of bacteria. Greater variety in gut bacteria has been shown to promote gut health, which promotes overall health - skin health, digestion, immune function, heart health, and more.

So if you tend to stick to one or two types of beans, vegetables, etc. try to switch it up! Your body will thank you.


Why you'll love this salad


  • raw veggies like bell peppers and cucumbers are hydrating, full of vitamins, and maintain their crunch for several days

  • it's a great option if you want something different from salads using greens as a base (though mixing a big scoop of this onto greens is excellent)

  • it's a balanced meal with loads of fiber, plant-based protein from the beans, fat from the olive oil, starchy carbs from the farro, and non-starchy carbs from the veggies

  • it is a breeze to whip together - the only time consuming steps are totally hands-off (letting the tofu marinate and cooking the farro) - then the rest comes together in minutes


Now that you know just how much I love this nutrient-packed, versatile salad, let's get to the recipe...


Makes 6-8 servings


Ingredients


  • 2 bell peppers, diced

  • 3 stalks celery, diced

  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced

  • 1/4 red onion, diced

  • 1, 15 oz can or 1.5 C cooked chickpeas

  • 1, 15 oz can or 1.5 C cooked white beans

  • 1/2 C farro, uncooked (can sub for brown rice, quinoa, etc.)

  • handful of chopped fresh herbs like parsley and/or dill (optional but highly recommended)


For the dressing*


  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 C olive oil

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • black pepper to taste


For the Dairy-Free Feta


  • half block of tofu (6-7 oz)

  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar

  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp water

  • 1 tbsp white miso

  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • black pepper to taste


* NOTE: if you omit the Dairy-Free Feta and use regular feta, double the dressing since you'll be missing out on some moisture


Method


  1. crumble the tofu in a big bowl, add all other feta ingredients and mix to coat, transfer to a glass container or jar and let sit for 3+ hours to marinate, shaking the jar around to make sure everything is evenly coated

  2. add the farro to a pot with 2 C water and a big pinch of salt, cook until tender - about 20 min - drain any excess water and set aside to cool

  3. while farro is cooking, dice peppers, celery, cucumber, and red onion and place in big bowl

  4. rinse and drain chickpeas and white beans if using canned, add to bowl

  5. whisk together dressing ingredients, add to bowl

  6. add in Dairy-Free Feta and chopped fresh herbs if using, and mix everything together

  7. store in fridge for up to 1 week


Recommended Uses


Besides eating this salad by itself, it is an excellent base/topping for so many meals. Here are some ideas:


  • mixed 1/2-1 C with 2 C chopped romaine lettuce, adding more lemon juice and olive oil if necessary or a dollop of hummus

  • top 1/2 C on half an avocado with a small pinch of salt

  • add a few spoonfuls on top of a toasted bagel with dairy-free cream cheese and a slice of tomato

  • make into a pasta salad by mixing into cooked and cooled pasta

If you make this versatile, crunchy-goodness salad, let me know how you use it! I'd love to hear from you :) tag me @nutrimsa with your creations.


Enjoy!


Xx, Kara


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