This is a summer salad. Yes, it can be made anytime of the year, but when the cucumbers and tomatoes are in season, it’s spectacular. It’s a nice picnic or BBQ side, too. And as always, it’s very flexible. But, no matter what options you choose, it’s delicious. I making the “Kafta-fel” for dinner (that recipe will come later). I wanted a nice chunky, crunchy salad, but with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavors. And this fits that bill ever-so deliciously.
First, if you haven’t roasted grapes, try them…It’s very simple. They are really just fresh raisins, when done like this! As you might imagine, roasting them concentrates their sugars and flavors. Usually, I add them to a protein, or roast them with a protein or vegetable, when I’m using them. But, this time, I wanted them for a bread I was planning on making. But, the bread will have to wait. While I was putting this salad together, I was thinking about how to add some sweetness, other than the obvious sugar or honey. And there they were. They may have even called my name, but that would make me sound crazy! So into the salad they went. To roast grapes in this manner, toss green and/or red seedless grapes with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place the pan in a 250°F oven for about 1-2 hours. Give them a stir, 3 or 4 times and that’s really all that’s involved. Do watch them, after the first hour or so. I’ve done this before, as in the Brussels Sprouts with Nuts and Roasted Grapes, or the Roasted Grapes with Blueberries, but my process here is different, because I’m just roasting the grapes solo. After they are soft, some will have burst and they wrinkled and shriveled a bit, but are still quite moist, remove them from the oven. Let them stand for about 5 minutes, then seal them in the foil.
Make certain they are not stuck to the foil. The soft, sweet and slightly chewiness are perfect for this salad. They will keep for at least a few days at room temp, otherwise you might want to chuck them into the fridge.
For the salad, finely mince the herbs; celery leaves, fresh oregano, garlic chives, lemon balm and mint. Chiffonade the kale.
This kale is a small-leafed variety that I planted in a container on my deck. I really do love it, as kale goes! Dice the veggies about the size of a garbanzo. Combine all the veggies, except the tomato (more about that later), along with the fresh herbs, roasted grapes and olives, in a large bowl. For the “dressing”, which this barely is, I chose pomegranate molasses, because it has both the sweet and sour properties. Most of the time I use balsamic vinegar, but I really did like this change and I think it may be permanent. And use your best flavored olive oil here, too. If you happen to have a leftover pita or naan that you want to get rid of, tear it up and toss it in.
It’s important to chill this for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours. I don’t add the tomatoes until I remove the salad from the fridge. I think this salad is best when removed from the fridge about 30 minutes before you intend to serve it. That’s when you toss in the tomatoes. I do leave those in slightly larger pieces. In the summer, when the tomatoes are divine, I don’t want their fabulous flavor diminished in any way. And chilling will do that. In winter, this is a bit less important.
Feel free to change the herbs up; dill is very nice with this. I know some people aren’t fond of mint, but I really do like a teaspoon or so of fresh mint, in this. Change the beans to fava or cannelini or whatever lurks in your pantry or tickles your fancy.
Cucumber-Garbanzo Salad with Roasted Grapes
- 2 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and cut into pieces
- 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup sliced celery heart, including some leaves (optional)
- 1/4 cup diced sweet peppers
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/3-1/2 cup coarsely sliced lacinato kale leaves (or more)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic chives (or regular)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh celery leaves
- 1-2 teaspoons finely minced fresh mint and/or lemon balm
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup pitted good-quality olives
- 1/2 cup roasted grapes (see NOTE)
- 3-4 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
- 2-3 teaspoons best flavored olive oil
- To serve:
- 3/4 cup halved cherry or coarsely diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients; toss until thoroughly combined. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Toss again; cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
When ready to serve, taste and correct the seasoning. Add the tomatoes, toss. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the feta, if using. Serve. I think this is best served just slightly chilled, so I remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before I intend to serve it.
NOTE: If you don’t want to roast grapes, reconstitute some white grapes with water or white wine vinegar, depending on how sharp you want the salad to be. This can become a very tasty panzanella, by stirring torn bits of pita bread into the vegetables, about 15 minutes before serving. I use about 2 tablespoons fresh herbs. Dill is also a lovely addition, instead of the mint; I use about 1-2 tablespoons of dillweed, depending on your taste.
Cucumber-Garbanzo Salad with Roasted Grapes Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.