The Food Gays Balela Panzanella Salad

Irresistible crunch.

This recipe is excerpted from “Cooking in Color: Vibrant, Delicious, Beautiful Food” by Adrian Harris and Jeremy Inglett of The Food Gays © 2018. Published in Canada by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

This is one of our favorite “big salads” to make any time of year, and it’s perfect for larger get-togethers. A twist on a traditional Middle Eastern balela salad, our version incorporates crunchy homemade croutons and an enticing, creamy avocado-based dressing.

Serves 6 to 8.


1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup diced English cucumber
2 tbsp finely diced roasted red pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
¼ cup crumbled soft unripened cheese (goat or feta cheese)
1 cup large croutons (see Tip)


1 avocado, pitted and peeled
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp plain yogurt
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper, to taste

Make Salad

In a large serving bowl, combine black beans, chickpeas, red onion, grape tomatoes, cucumber, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and cilantro. Set aside.

Make Dressing

In a blender or food processor, combine avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Blend until completely smooth.

Add dressing to salad, and toss well. Top with crumbled cheese and crunchy croutons. Serve immediately.


Homemade croutons are a cinch to make, and are a great use for stale bread. Simply cut bread into 1-inch cubes, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 weeks.

Styling Note

We love playing with negative space, and the colors in this salad look positively radiant paired with matte black plates and golden flatware.

Read more recipes.


Post Date:

October 8, 2018