I worked in a dreadful office environment for a while. By “a while,” I mean 565 loooong days. Some days, I watched the sunrise and sunset through my car windows during my stop-and-go highway commute. Maybe you know how that goes. Maybe you’re reading this from a similarly dreadful office environment. If so, I feel for you.
Anyway, every day upon arrival, I plunked down at my desk with my big mug of coffee and started counting down the minutes until lunchtime. I usually brought my own lunch to save money, but some days I just had to escape the office and find refuge in a restaurant. I’m not sure I would have made it through those days without a good lunch.
On the worst of days, I treated myself to lunch at The Mediterranean Deli. Half cafe, half import grocery store, it is a quaint, no-frills, hidden treasure in Oklahoma City. It was my safe haven, a place where I could catch up with my favorite blogs while I waited for my meal. I was always torn between the vegetarian platter (oh, that falafel!) and the colorful salad sampler. Either way, I always walked out the door with a happy belly, feeling like everything was a little more right with the world.
On my return drives, I would marvel at all the other cars on the road. “These people are free!” I assumed, with delirious envy. “Free to do whatever they please! Free to soak up the sunshine and fresh air!” My rational side usually reminded me that they were not as free as I imagined. Maybe they had screaming babies in their back seats, or they were on their way to get a root canal. Maybe they were stopping for a latte on their way home from yoga class, in which case, I was justifiably jealous.
Giving up my favorite lunch was probably the only downside to quitting my office job. I literally skipped out the door on my last day and never looked back. I don’t mean to talk down on all office jobs—I think some can be really fun and rewarding—but that one left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m actually very glad for the experience, though. It changed my course for the better. I got bored and channeled my energy into a creative project that I called Cookie and Kate, for lack of a better name. Three years later, I’m typing up a post in my pajamas, and I’m about to head to the fridge and pull out some leftover bean salad. This glorious, glorious freedom is not lost on me.
Today’s recipes are inspired by the meals I enjoyed at The Mediterranean Deli. I often miss their kidney bean salad, which was so much more exciting than it sounds. I found a recipe for a Lebanese bean salad in one of Elisabeth Rozin’s books that seemed similar, so I made it this weekend. I added chickpeas, celery and garlic. I haven’t tasted the Deli’s version in a while, but they are similarly satisfying, at least.
I also made Elisabeth’s parsley hummus—it was intended to be a separate post, but the bean salad and hummus pair so well that I felt like I should share them together. Both recipes are so full of lemon, parsley and garlic that they taste like a kick in the mouth, in the best way. Kapow! Combined with pita bread, they make a great meal. They also pack well for leftovers, in case you’d like to enjoy them for lunch away from home.
Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 15 mins
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
A delightfully crunchy and satisfying bean salad bursting with Mediterranean flavors, including lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. This healthy salad is vegan and gluten free, but mostly just delicious! Recipe yields about six 1-cup servings.
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced in half or thirds lengthwise and chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or mint
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Small pinch red pepper flakes
- In a serving bowl, combine the prepared kidney beans, chickpeas, onion, celery, cucumber, parsley and dill (or mint).
- Make the lemon dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper flakes until emulsified. Pour dressing over the bean and vegetable mixture and toss thoroughly.
- Serve immediately for the most flavor, or let it marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for a couple of hours or longer. Leftovers should keep well, covered and refrigerated, for several days. If necessary, wake up leftovers with a little sprinkle of salt or drizzle of lemon juice.
▸ Nutrition Information
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Lemon-Parsley Hummus with Baked Pita Chips
Basic hummus punched up with extra parsley, lemon and garlic. This hummus makes a great snack or appetizer and pairs wonderfully with the lemon-parsley bean salad recipe above. Recipe yields about 2 cups hummus.
- 1½ cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 2½ cups cooked chickpeas
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 to 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- Dash freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Baked pita chips
- Whole grain pita bread
- Olive oil
- Fine grain sea salt
- To make the hummus: in a food processor, combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, parsley, tahini, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Process until the hummus is creamy and relatively smooth, adding more olive oil or a splash of water if necessary. Add salt to taste, transfer to a serving bowl and top with a light drizzle of olive oil.
- To bake the pita chips: preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice your pita bread into small wedges, like you would a pizza. Brush pita wedges with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes, flipping halfway, or until the pita chips are crisp and lightly golden.
Recipe adapted from Ethnic Cuisine: How to Create the Authentic Flavors of Over 30 International Cuisines by Elisabeth Rozin.
If you like these recipes, you might also enjoy my mason jar chickpea, farro and greens salad (post includes lunch packing tips!), crispy baked falafel, chickpea salad, farro and chickpea salad with herbed yogurt and avocado-pesto sandwich.
More resources you might appreciate: 16 recipes that pack well for lunch, 14 simple weeknight dinners and 12 favorite kale salads (includes tips how to make the best kale salad!). You can also find my favorite healthy cooking and baking tools here!
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