I'm a big fan of traditional Greek salad. While its ingredients are simple, the flavours are bold - salty feta and olives, crunchy red onion, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber, and a nice big glug olive oil. Total salad perfection/party-in-your-mouth. We grew up eating a lot of Greek salad, and while I won't argue it's comfort food (it is a salad after all), I'm very content with a bowlful.
This cannellini bean version sways from the traditional recipe, but only slightly. Recently at work, I wanted to turn last-nights Greek salad into more of a hearty meal, so I added a tin of cannellini beans, as well as avocado, a sprinkle of seeds, and some lettuce for good measure. Yum! At its essence, it still has all of the flavours of a Greek salad, but the extra fibre and protein from the cannellini beans left me feeling fuelled and satisfied, turning this more into a balanced meal.
Plant-based proteins, like cannellini beans, chickpeas or lentils, are awesome tossed through salads as a way to bump up the protein and dietary fibre content of a meal - both these nutrients are quite slow to move through our digestive system, so they're great at helping to keep us feeling full, for longer. I often use canned varieties as they're quick and easy, but cooked beans can offer a little more texture and flavour. They're so budget-friendly too!
Cannellini Bean Greek Salad
4x cups/handfuls of salad greens
1x punnet of cherry tomatoes or 2-3 tomatoes
1x Lebanese cucumber or 1/2 regular cucumber
1x green capsicum
1/2 red onion
A small handful of finely sliced herbs e.g. parsley, dill...
1x 400g tin cannellini beans
10g or 1/2 block feta cheese
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp dried oregano
A pinch of a salt and pepper
1. Wash all produce. Slice lettuce, tomatoes, green capsicum, cucumber and red onion. Slice avocado in half, remove outer black skin and dice green flesh. Finely slice herbs (I often just add them into a mug and use kitchen scissors to cut! Easy). Add all to a large bowl, including the olives.
2. Open the tin of cannellini beans and tip into a sieve. Drain liquid and rinse beans. Add to bowl.
3. Dice feta into cubes, or crumble into the bowl. Sprinkle over the sunflower seeds.
4. To prepare the dressing whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and gently toss (try to avoid mushing the beans - they're delicate).
Enjoy! Serves 4 with a small portion, or 2-3 with a larger portion. Great by itself, or alongside grilled fish or chicken. To keep vegan-friendly remove feta.