If you are looking for a perfect make-ahead salad for work or school day lunches, this is the one.
The kale is robust enough to keep in the fridge without wilting, and the flavors in the salad will improve over time.
The salad has a bit of tang from the lemon juice, some salt from the olives and feta, and a touch of sweet from the figs and brown sugar. It’s a winning combination.
The sumac is optional, but its characteristic tart fruity taste goes very well in this dish.
Sumac is made from the ground berries of a bush that grows in the Mediterranean and Middle East. There is really no substitute for its unique flavor. (If you can find a jar – either in the spice or import section of your supermarket, or at a specialty shop – it is worth picking up.)
The figs add the sweetness and a particular texture to the salad, but if you don’t have any, you could try another fruit – dried or fresh – to add that element.
Pitting the olives is probably the most time-consuming part of preparing this salad, but once you know a couple of tricks for removing the stone, it only takes a couple of minutes. It’s worth taking that time, as the flavor of olives with their pits is much stronger for some reason than the flavor of pitted olives.
Olives sold with their pits in may be a bit more expensive, but you will need to use fewer of them to get a pronounced olive taste, so the cost evens out.
There are several ways to pit olives. The fastest is to lay your knife blade over the fruit and press down, crushing the olive. This will loosen up the stone and allow you to pluck it out. I don’t use this method, though, because it can sometimes make the olives mushy.
I like to hold the olive in one hand (between my thumb and forefinger) and use a paring knife to make a slit from top to bottom on one side. Gently press the thumb and forefinger on ends of the olive, and the pit will usually loosen up enough to be removed easily. Sometimes an olive may be too soft for this to be fully effective, in which case you can just pare around the pit.
If you have some extra time, you could roast the chickpeas and add them just before serving for an additional blast of flavor. Toss them with 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of oil, 1/2 a teaspoon / 2.5 ml of salt, 1 teaspoon / 5 ml of chili powder and 1 tablespoon /30 ml of brown sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F / 204 degrees C for 30-40 minutes until they are crisp.
This is a lot of explanation for what is really a fast and easy salad. Once you try it, I’m sure it will be a regular feature on your lunch and dinner menus.
- 10 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
- 4 sundried tomatoes, minced
- 6 dried figs, diced
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups / 500 ml cooked chickpeas (or a 16 oz / 540 ml can)
- ¼ cup / 60 ml finely chopped parsley
- 4 cups kale / 1 liter, torn into bited-sized pieces
- ¼ cup / 60 ml olive oil
- 3 tablespoons / 45 ml lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml balsamic vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml pepper
- ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml dried chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml sumac (optional)
- ½ cup / 125 ml crumbled feta
- Toss together olives, sundried tomatoes, figs, onions, chickpeas and kale.
- Sprinkle olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, chili flakes, sumac (if using) over salad. Toss until kale is evenly coated with the dressing.
- Add feta and toss to distribute.