A few weeks ago, after a good treadmill workout at the gym, I stopped in the café to grab a quick and healthy smoothie for lunch. They had some prepared salads in the cooler and I stopped to check out the selection, and this bean and spinach salad caught my eye. I adore garbanzo beans and spinach, and all the other Mediterranean flavors in it were right up my alley, so I got that instead of the smoothie, and it was a very good decision. As I sat at the table, nibbling away, I took a quick photo of the ingredient list, then when I got home I went to work trying to recreate that delicious salad.
The ingredient list included things like “oil blend” and their own version of pesto sauce, so I had to approximate some things using what I keep in my pantry. I used extra virgin olive oil plus a little drizzle of the leftover oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, and then added our homemade basil pesto, which is slightly different from their recipe.
It’s not exactly the same flavor as the one I tasted at Lifetime, but it’s pretty darn close. Theirs seemed a bit more salty and had some spice in it, making me wonder if there were some crushed pepper flakes in there somewhere. I served the salad at dinner, and Michael and the boys really liked it. I’ve made a couple more batches since then, because it keeps well and is so easy to pull out for a quick lunch.
Regular spinach or baby spinach work equally well, just remove the stems from the regular spinach and tear the larger leaves. I haven’t tried it it with baby kale or chard, but I imagine both would also work nicely. I like this with home cooked beans, but a can of garbanzo beans will do in a pinch. When peppers are in season, roast your own in the oven or over a hot flame on the stove, or you can purchase roasted red peppers in jars.
Make it vegan with a cheese substitute or skip the cheese altogether.
Mediterranean Spinach and Bean Salad
- large serving bowl
- 1½ cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 1 can (15 ounces/425 g) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed)
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese (or vegan alternative)
- 1 roasted red pepper (fresh or from a jar, finely chopped)
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (thinly sliced)
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
- In the large bowl, stir together the beans, Feta, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Toss with the spinach and allow to rest in the refrigerator or at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then serve. Add more fresh black pepper to taste.