Happy new year once again, everyone! Are you ready to officially kick off 2016 this week? Got all the holiday decorations packed away, or will you keep them up for little bit longer? Since Ben’s family is in town we kept our Christmas tree and decorations up to open family gifts, but the new-year-fresh-start-feeling inspired me to go on a massive organizing bender this weekend.
Our kitchen cabinets have been decluttered, the pantry has been condensed, I corralled all of Lincoln’s art supplies into a new art cart, and have a giant load of cans and kitchenware to deliver to the food pantry and Goodwill, respectively. How unbelievable does it feel to get ride of stuff!? Other than that we’ve been hanging around as a family, cooking for fun (ahh!) drinking wine, playing way too many games of Heads Up, and trying to squeeze every last second out of these last few days of break before it’s back to normal life as we know it. Definitely bittersweet, though I can’t say I’m not looking forward to the return of The Bachelor tonight!
Anyway, I am being a total cliche food blogger and kicking off 2016 with a salad recipe. I know, I know! I can hear you sighing from here. But inhale, my friends, because this salad is totally worthy of 2016’s first recipe spot here on the blog. Italian Sub Salad tastes like your favorite deli’s Italian sub, just without the bread. Gluten-free, low-carb, yet PACKED with satisfying flavor, I am still thinking about my last bite days later.
This sultry salad combo was inspired by Ben, who offered to make us Italian salads for dinner a few weeks ago. An offer which was met by me jumping off the couch, half yelling, REALLLLLLY? as if he’d suggested we actually fly to Italy for dinner. That is to say, I was excited. Salad for dinner? Yes. Made by someone other than me? Heck yes!
He laid out the ingredients – black olives, salami, green onions, lettuce, and tomatoes – then I upped the ante by pulling out a jar of banana peppers from the fridge (Mezzetta are phenomenal and gluten-free,) and dicing a ripe avocado that was laying on the counter. We dressed our salads with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, then seasoned them with salt, pepper, and dried oregano, and dug in.
The very first thing that popped into my mind? ITALIAN SUB SANDWICH. I mean the flavor was unmistakable, and seeing as how I haven’t had an Italian sub in over two years, it also nearly brought tears to my eyes. I mean, you don’t know how much you love Italian subs until you can’t have them, but the flavor of this salad will have me missing them no more!
Eating healthy in the new year doesn’t mean salads consisting of limp lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. Enjoy and look forward to eating healthfully with bright and fresh meals like this Italian Sub Salad.
Start by roasting a 15oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans,) which will add filling protein and fiber to the salad, not to mention a delicious and hearty crunch. We didn’t have these in our original salads but I’m glad I added them when I made them for the blog. They added so much, texture and health-wise.
Drain then rinse the beans and then dry them off really well in a kitchen towel. Pour the beans onto a silpat, parchment paper, or foil-lined baking sheet, toss with extra virgin olive oil and salt, then roast for 35-40 minutes or until deep golden brown. They’ll crisp a bit more as they cool and can be made a couple days ahead of time.
Next add 9oz (1 bag) chopped romaine lettuce into a large bowl then use a pizza cutter to cut the lettuce into small, bite-sized pieces. I learned this trick at a build your own salad restaurant a million years ago and have been using it ever since. Down with face-whipping-sized pieces of lettuce!
To the lettuce add all the ingredients that would normally be stuffed inside a big fat Italian roll. That’s 2oz salami, 2oz can sliced black olives, 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, 1/4 cup banana pepper rings (<< THE BOMB,) and 2 green onions. We kept this salad dairy-free, but you could add chopped provolone, if you like!
This is the gluten-free salami I use by the way. I’m embarrassed to tell you how much of this stuff I eat on a weekly basis. So I won’t! ;)
Squeeze fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil over the salad to mimic the vinegar and oil usually drizzled over an Italian sub. That said, you could use red wine vinegar in place of lemon, but I’ve been loving fresh lemon juice on just about everything these days.
Finally, sprinkle on salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried oregano which completely transforms this salad into an Italian SUB salad. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you smell it,
Divide the salad between two bowls then go. to. TOWN!
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Italian Sub Salad
Italian Salad tastes just like a fresh Italian Sub from the deli. Fresh, healthy, and gluten-free!
- 15oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans,) drained then rinsed
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 9oz chopped romaine lettuce
- 2oz salami, chopped (I like Applegate naturals)
- 2oz can sliced black olives, drained
- 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup banana pepper rings, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 lemon
- pinch dried oregano
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then line a baking sheet with a silpat, parchment paper, or foil and set aside. Pat garbanzo beans very dry on a kitchen towel then add to prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt then toss to evenly coat and roast for 30-40 minutes or until dark golden brown. Chickpeas will crisp as they cool and can be made a couple days ahead of time.
- In a large bowl combine lettuce, salami, black olives, tomatoes, banana pepper rings, and green onions. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, and dried oregano, and then toss to coat. Add crispy chickpeas and avocado then mix gently to combine. Divide salad between plates then serve.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.