I don’t do the whole New Years resolution thing. However, I am a total cliche when it comes to wanting to eat healthy in January. For me it has absolutely nothing to do with resolutions; it’s all about recovering from the glutton-fest that is the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Xmas Eve and Day. The holiday office parties. Visits with friends and family. Travel. Airport food. Drinking on New Years Eve. By January 1st I feel absolutely disgusting. Sometimes the scale reflects the season, other years I break even. But that’s irrelevant to me. In the new year, all I want to do is eat clean, whole, healthy food. I want vegetables, fruits, fresh juices, and smoothies. I want salads for lunch and dinner.
I recently teamed up with several brands to create a recipe based on The Mediterranean Diet. I’ll admit I’d never heard of this diet previously but when I did some research I liked what I saw and agreed to give it a go (here’s some information from the Mayo Clinic). The diet emphasizes produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. These are all ingredients I love to work with so it seemed like a winner. And I’m very happy with my recipe; I’ve been eating this Mediterranean salad nonstop since returning from vacation. It has so many ingredients I love- farro, roasted tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, feta cheese, white beans, etc. It really packs in a lot of flavor and there’s nothing about it that suggests the word “diet.” The roasted tomato vinaigrette is my favorite element and I can’t believe I had never previously used tomatoes in a salad dressing.
I used several specific brands to create the recipe (the companies I teamed up with) but don’t feel as though you are limited to those brands when you prepare the salad. I do recommend heading over to California Olive Ranch’s Facebook page where they’re hosting a great contest. There are several prizes including all of the products I worked with to create this salad.
- 1 14.5 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + more as needed (I used California Olive Ranch)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tomato juice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 slice pita bread, sliced into wedges
- ¼ cup dried apricots (I used Mariani Premium Dried California Apricots)
- baby arugula
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup farro, cooked (I used Bob's Red Mill)
- ¼ cup white beans, cooked (I used Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Cannellini Beans)
- 2 tablespoons black kalamata olives, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain whole peeled tomatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice from the can. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and gently squeeze out some of the juice and seeds. Place the tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet and lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring the tomatoes halfway through to prevent sticking.
- In a blender, add the roasted tomatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, reserved tomato juice, sea salt and a few shakes of black pepper. Puree until smooth (note: the vinaigrette may separate with time so leave it in the blender and mix again right before serving).
- Place the pita bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some salt on top and bake in a 350 degree F oven until crisp, approximately 10 minutes.
- Reconstitute the apricots in hot water until they soften slightly, 5-10 minutes. Julienne the apricots into thin slices.
- Spread a generous portion of baby arugula on 2 plates. Top with the apricots, pine nuts, farro, beans, olives, mint and feta cheese.
- Drizzle roasted tomato vinaigrette on each salad before serving.