Lots of free time, sunshine, and cravings for fresh vegetables can only mean one thing: summer break is here, and it is loveliness in its purest form. I woke up this morning, fresh off a wonderful weekend, wanting something satisfying and super fresh for lunch. Given that I just had a few errands to run this morning, I decided I would spend much of the afternoon finding some new recipes to try out in the kitchen. Letting my cravings guide my recipe choices, it's shaping up to be a week full of fresh, clean, and healthy Italian fare.
The dish I chose to make for lunch today is a vegetarian antipasti salad full of hearty, wholesome ingredients. Antipasti, meaning "before the meal" (thanks, Wikipedia), typically includes meats, cheeses, olives, and a variety of vegetables; however, this vegetarian version utilizes beans as the main protein making it an excellent alternative to traditional antipasti. The result is a salad that is fresh, zesty, and filling. Added bonus: the inclusion of so many super foods (fennel, garlic, peppers, beans) means that it packs a nutritional punch that will keep you energized throughout the day.
Vegetarian Antipasti Salad (4 Servings)
Modified from foodnetwork.com
* ¼ medium red onion, minced
* ½ medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cored
* 1 15-ounce can chickpeas or cannellini beans (or a combination of the two)
* 4 jarred roasted sweet yellow and red peppers, chopped
* 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
* 2 cups baby arugula
* ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted
* ½ cup shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano
* 1 small garlic clove, peeled
* 1 ½ tsp sea salt
* 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
* ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Mellow the minced red onion by soaking it in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain well, pat dry, and put in salad bowl.
2. While onion is mellowing, make the dressing by smashing the garlic clove, sprinkling it with ½ tsp salt and, with the side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture into a coarse paste. Put the paste into a bowl and add the vinegar, remaining 1 tsp salt, and black pepper, to taste. While whisking, gradually add in the olive oil to emulsify the dressing.
3. Using a knife, cut the fennel lengthwise into long, thin slices. Add to the onion in the salad bowl and toss with the beans, peppers, artichoke hearts, arugula, and dressing. Plate and top with the kalamata olives and shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano.