Mar 10

Warm Roasted Vegetable Mediterranean Salad

in Fruits & Vegetables, Recipes by Type, Salads, Side Dish

Hot Mediterranean Salad

On Monday I got really brave and went to Costco with both of the girls.  They were so good that I tested my luck and took them to the grocery store to finish up the grocery shopping.  I shouldn’t have been so brave, because I was rewarded with a Queen-sized temper tantrum from Squirrel in the middle of the grocery store.  One of the joys of being a mom.  Before her spectacular meltdown, we stopped by a table in the grocery store where they were handing out samples of a delicious Dubliner cheese that was on special. I broke off half of my sample and gave it to Squirrel.  The woman giving out samples watched me do this and then said, “You know that is kind of a strong cheese.  It’s not good for children—they won’t like it.”  I just smiled and replied that my girls would eat anything.  Proving my point, Squirrel chewed and swallowed her half and then greedily eyed my piece.

Squirrel eating

I then handed a small piece to Bug, which she ate with gusto.  I know the woman meant well, but those types of comments sometimes rub me the wrong way.  Too often we set parameters for our childrens’ palates—delineating between “kid food” and “adult food”—never giving them the chance to try something new and decide for themselves whether or not they like it.  As I wrote in a guest post for Savor the Thyme about sharing cultural foods with kids, never assume that your child won’t like something, you are just setting them up for failure.  Kids don’t know whether or not something is “kid food” or “adult food,” or “weird” or “foreign” unless we act like it is.  When our children are little, almost every meal is a new adventure for them.  There are so many new flavors, textures, and combinations for them to discover, experience, and explore!  This is one of the reasons I love having kids.  Life is so much more exciting when you experience it through their eyes—life is an adventure.

Bug eating

One of the tricks I have learned is to use a few of a child’s favorite familiar ingredients when introducing new ones.  If they see something they recognize and love, they are more likely to want to try something new that is paired with it.  I recently received a jar of marinated artichoke hearts and a jar of roasted red bell peppers from Mezzetta to play with (two of my favorites things on my long list of food loves).

Mezzetta marinated artichoke hearts and roasted red bell peppers

They sat on my counter for a few days as I tried to decide what to do with them.  Then I read a recipe for a Roasted Vegetable Greek Salad on the blog One Tribe Gourmet and I knew exactly what I wanted to use them for.  But how to package the dish so that it would be more likely to succeed with Squirrel and Bug, as some of the ingredients were a bit more unfamiliar for my girls?  The answer?  Feta cheese.  Squirrel has developed a love for cheese—especially feta cheese.  She surprised me a few weeks ago when I placed a container of feta on the counter and she exclaimed, “Oh! Feta cheese! Can I have some?”  Sometimes it amazes me what she can identify.  So I knew that if I put feta cheese in the finished dish, Squirrel would be more likely to want to eat it.

The result was a warm salad that is slightly reminiscent of ratatouille, and combines the tangy flavor of feta cheese, with vinegary kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts, and an assortment of delicious roasted vegetables.  This is a fabulous vegetarian dish that makes a great side dish or a delicious light lunch.  And yes, both Squirrel and Bug loved it—feta cheese anyone?

Mediterranean Salad 2

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Warm Roasted Vegetable Mediterranean Salad

Inspired by One Tribe Gourmet’s Roasted Vegetable Greek Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 small eggplant, cut into bit size pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 – 5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of one fresh lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 jar (6.5 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 jar (8 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic in a roasting pan.  Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and lemon juice and then sprinkle them with the salt.  Toss the vegetables to coat them.

2. Put the vegetables in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring the vegetables every 8 to 10 minutes, until the eggplant has cooked through.  Take the pan out of the oven and pour the vegetables into a bowl.  Add the artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, and kalamata olives, and stir everything together.  Let the vegetables sit for about 5 minutes to cool slightly and to let the flavors blend.  Serve garnished with crumbled feta cheese.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Cooking Rookie March 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Great salad and very cute pictures :-)


Paula - bell'alimento March 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Just gaw-geous as usual! & good for squirrel & bug! I feel the same way. Lurve this salad & you know I always have some mezzetta products in my pantry! Great go to’s!


Teresa March 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm

The salad looks great. Funny about Costco – does everyone’s kid take a huge tantrum in there? Mine seem to be way more prone to misbehave in such a situation. Also, my children adore Dubliner cheese. A funny thing to think about is what other cultures think of as kid cuisine. . . it’s usually something that would be “too strong’ for kids somewhere else. You never know what they’ll actually like. I totally agree with you on this.


Sarka March 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

What a delicious looking recipe. I love roasted vegetable. Your girls are so cute! :)


Fuji Nana March 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm

If only all healthy food looked so beautiful. This might get me to buy an eggplant, something I do every few years.


marla {family fresh cooking} March 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I couldn’t agree more: “never assume that your child won’t like something.” I also dislike when people only give their kids “kid food, ” as if kids are a different life form. They need to cultivate their tiny taste buds for all sorts of foods at an early age. My kids love strong flavored cheese as well. Great photos! This marinated salad looks very good.


[email protected] March 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I share your opinion on “kid food” vs. “adult food”. For that reason, I never ask for a children’ menu unless it’s the same menu as the adult one with smaller portions. Why should my kids only eat M&C, chicken nuggets, toasted melted cheese sandwich when they are out?
One way I found to introduce new ingredients is to have my children help me prep the meal!
PS: Beautiful pictures and delicious salad!


Megan March 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I love your attitude towards your girls. You are helping them to be all they can be. If only every adult aspired to that outcome for children. As for Squirrel’s temper tantrum? I don’t believe it, but I know it must be true, so in that case, I would have liked to have witnessed it. Haha, sorry. They are horrible for everyone, especially the mum!

Looks like a nice healthy salad, by the way. I love your attitude towards food too!!


penny aka jeroxie March 11, 2010 at 12:48 am

That looks gorgeous and super healthy. Glad ur kids ate it!


sugar plum March 11, 2010 at 3:55 am

U have beautiful pics dear Fuji mama…cheers and happy day…hope ur feeling better….


Ally March 11, 2010 at 4:58 am

Everytime I go into the grocery store I see the red bell peppers on sale and I keep thinking that there’s GOT to be something delicious I can do with those peppers. I think your salad is the answer!


BUSIR March 11, 2010 at 8:55 am

My grandson was very young when he tried snails in a restaurant in Burgandy and he loves them since that day.He’s franco american.Y.S


Megan March 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

I have been wanting to try a recipe like this-all the flavors sound just so hearty and delicious! YUM!


Emily March 11, 2010 at 10:35 am

Dubliner cheese isn’t all that strong. You should see some of the cheeses the cheese lady (it’s what my kids call her) at our local grocery store get my kids to try. Some they like, some they don’t. But they always try. They’ve learned that smelly doesn’t always mean it tastes bad. And my nine-year-old usually will order off the adult menus now, because he thinks they get better choices! That salad looks right up their alley, they are always trying to get me to try new things too.


Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food March 11, 2010 at 10:58 am

This is a beautiful recipe and wonderful write-up, Rachel. Your daughters’ attitude toward food reminds me of that of my (now grown) son. We raised him in a variety of developing countries where he was always eager to try local delicacies of any stripe: dried fish for breakfast, fermented crab roe, duck eggs just before their hatching, escargot, etc. No problem!


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love your philosophy on cooking with your girls and teaching them to appreciate and try new foods. I hope to raise my kids the same way some day (if I ever get around to *having* kids). In the meantime, I am taking that approach with my husband. :)


Tracy March 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm

This salad looks so warm and inviting. I’d love to make it for dinner or as a side!


megan March 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I loved Jen’s response. I’m taking that approach with my husband as well. it really is similar…if I don’t act like it’s a strange food and assume he’ll love it, he usually does :)

this one looks great! and very healthy


Winnie March 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Oh I just love salads like this. Anything with roasted eggplant, really, is great to me, but I love everything in here. You daughter is beyond cute and you are so right that it’s annoying when people assume kids won’t eat something because they are kids.
Kudos for proving them wrong!


Carol Egbert March 12, 2010 at 12:38 am

This recipe is the inspiration I needed for my daily trip to the open air market in Siracusa, Sicily. Thanks


Michelle March 12, 2010 at 6:36 am

So true about childrens diets. I did not have a typical childhood when it came to food. My Mom made all kinds of dishes that my friends thought were strange. I was never forced to eat anything but my Mom always made dinner an adventure and it was fun to try new things.

Your a good Mom!


Fuji Papa March 12, 2010 at 7:46 am

You’ve not only encouraged your children to be adventurous in their eating, but have also had an impact on your parents. Trying new foods can be almost as exciting as visiting new places and doing both together – well, it doesn’t get any better than that.


sippitysup March 12, 2010 at 9:22 am

Love the flavors in this. I also love your wise words about kids and food. I hope you had a great time in LA, I have read a few posts about your macaron event! Fun… GREG


Lindsey March 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Oh this makes me happy! The whole thing! Thanks


diego March 15, 2010 at 12:52 am

Love the pictures. Good angle and color balance, seems you have great photography skill


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm

A STUNNING salad Rachael. And I so agree with you about kids and food, even though I am not a mum.


The Duo Dishes March 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

You’re so right about separating food for kids and adults. It’d be amazing to see what kids would eat if they were able to try it at a younger age. Love this meal.


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme March 29, 2010 at 5:01 am

What a gorgeous salad! Love in a bowl, I’d say. This one is definitely on the “short list” of my must try recipes. Also, you’re so right about kids and what they will and won’t eat. Children who are offered a variety of foods without being told they’ll like them or not will invariably surprise you with what they choose!


Sara May 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Rachael, I just saw this post of yours~ Sorry I missed it! It looks delicious and thank you soooo much for the shout out~ You are a sweetheart! muah! xoxoxox :)


Corinne from It's Vegetarian! October 9, 2010 at 9:11 am

This looks amazing!!! I’m on the lookout for tasty things to add to my vegetarian meal plan, and this is definitely making the list! :)

Corinne from It’s Vegetarian!

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein


yoko July 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm

i couldn’t agree with you more about the “kid food.”

growing up with a great cook (aka mom), i’m always shocked at what my nieces/nephews are being can they subsist on plain pasta or grilled cheese?

i was starting to wonder if that’s just the culture in the states..drawing the line between kid food and adult food.

i’m relieved to know there are those who think otherwise :)


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