Use Olives Instead of Oil In Greek Spinach Chickpea Salad

Reader Contribution by Linda Watson

Slice whole olives into a simple spinach and chickpea salad and skip the oil for more flavor and nutrition. This thrifty recipe tastes like a splurge but only costs 37 cents for a side-dish serving using organic ingredients and less if you grow your own spinach. It’s quick to make because my recipe makes good use of the “meanwhile.”

For a potluck at my friends’ farm last weekend, I wanted to show off their lively fresh spinach. I also wanted to bring a dish that would give the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd a good source of protein. This quick recipe let me get out and enjoy the glorious spring weather.

Using Whole Foods Instead of Extracts

Sliced olives provide intense flavor, decorate your salad, and don’t puddle at the bottom. Unlike extracted olive oil, they also nourish you with calcium, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, E, and C. To give olive oil credit, it does have about four times as much vitamin K than whole olives for the same amount of fat.

The Magic of Meanwhile

This salad recipe uses one of my favorite techniques: get something started and let it work while you do something else. Let the chickpeas drain while you start the spinach soaking. Let the spinach soak while you slice the olives. In just a few minutes, you’ve got a gorgeous, lemon-scented salad.

Greek Spinach and Chickpea Recipe

Yield: serves 24 as a side dish or 8 as a main dish.


• 4 cups cooked, cold chickpeas
• 4 ounces fresh, raw spinach
• 4 ounces pitted Kalamata style olives or other olives of your choice
• 1 lemon or about 2 tablespoons lemon juice


1. Drain chickpeas. I cook several pounds of chickpeas at once so I can have them on hand for hummus and stews too. I drain chickpeas for salad right over the pot to save the delicious broth for gravy. If you used canned chickpeas, rinse them in water and don’t save the broth.

2. Put spinach in a clean tub full of water and swish it around. Most of the dirt will sink to the bottom and any critters usually swim to the surface.

3. Slice olives. Zest the lemon and save the zest for another purpose (blueberry pancakes!).

4. Gently lift spinach out of water, empty tub, and refill. Swish spinach again and lift out. Repeat until the water is clear. Usually three rinses are enough.

5. Stack spinach leaves and cut into ribbons about 1/2 x 3 inches and put into a bowl. Set aside a few of the prettiest olive slices for the top, then add the remaining olives and the chickpeas to the spinach.

6. Juice lemon and pour juice over salad. Toss to combine and top with the pretty olive slices.

7. Serve at once or cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Source for nutritional information: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27.

Photos by Linda Watson (c) 2015 Cook for Good, used by permission.

Check out Linda’s website Cook for Good for more recipes and tips. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. She is the author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet — All on $5 a Day or Less and Fifty Weeks of Green: Romance & Recipes.

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