Red bell peppers, garlic, and the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar give this creamy but low-fat white bean salad an amazing flavor.
Chickpea salads are very popular in my household. My daughter E likes them so much that she often helps me throw them together, and we never use exactly the same formula twice. Over the weekend, I decided to really shake things up and, instead of chickpeas, make a bean salad from great northern beans. I had to wait until E was out of the house because she is not a fan of white beans, and true to form, she refused to even taste the salad. Oh well, more for me–and for husband D, who actually preferred it to chickpea salad.
This salad gets its distinctive flavor from za’atar, a blend of spices popular in the Middle East. The exact formula varies from country to country but usually includes thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds, which are the spices I use here. If you can’t find za’atar (or zatar or zahatar) locally, you can order it online, but it’s very easy to make at home. Look for sumac (which is also indispensable for sprinkling on hummus) online or in Middle Eastern grocery stores.
White Bean Salad with Za’atar
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped
- 2 ribs celery minced
- 1 kohlrabi peeled and diced small (or other crunchy vegetable, see note)
- 4 green onions sliced
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- 2 16-ounce cans great northern beans rinsed well and drained
- 1/2 package lite silken tofu (about 6 ounces)
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon tahini (optional)
- 3-4 teaspoons za’tar (or 2 tsp. sumac, 1 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. sesame seeds)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
- salt to taste
Place the bell pepper, celery, kohlrabi, green onions, parsley, and all but 1/2 cup of the beans into a large serving bowl.
Place the remaining ingredients, including the reserved beans and juice of half a lemon, into a food processor, and blend until smooth. Add this dressing to the bowl and stir well to coat. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least an hour, but better the next day. Check seasonings and add more salt, lemon juice, and za’tar to taste. Serve sprinkled with additional parsley or za’tar.
You can use about a cup of any crunch-providing vegetable or fruit instead of the kohlrabi. Water chestnuts or jicama would provide a neutral flavor while Asian pears or apples would contribute a hint of sweetness.
More Cooking with Za’atar:
- Za’atar Tofu from Tofu for Two
- Turkish Black-eyed Pea Salad with Pomegranate, Walnuts and Za’atar Dressing from Vegalicious
- Za’atar Popcorn from The Kitchn
- Baked Whole Wheat Flatbread with Olive Oil and Za’atar and Low-Glycemic and Gluten-Free Chickpea Crisps from Kalyn’s Kitchen