Guys, this salad is so festive! When I saw those teeny tiny beautiful sweet bell peppers at the market I couldn’t resist. They work great in this salad because they’re hearty and crunchy and pair very well with a light and creamy tahini za’atar dressing.
Rainbow foods are all the rage these days
Seriously, it’s a thing. So, I know I’m being super trendy by naming my Mediterranean Rainbow Pepper Salad accordingly. But, really, how could I not? It most certainly could not have been avoided after arranging the extra peppers in the background of these photos by color.
Some people arrange the books on their bookshelves by color. I apparently arrange tiny peppers. And I’m okay with that. One of my favorite Instagrammers, Emily Blincoe, arranges items she finds in nature by color and size and shape. I can’t even imagine the time and patience it takes to do that. Respect.
Whipped tahini: a magical ingredient
If you’re looking for a plant-based way to thicken your dressing and make it super creamy, I cannot encourage you enough to try using whipped tahini as the base.
Whipped tahini sounds way fancier than it is. You simply put a spoonful of tahini and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk whisk whisk and behold! It’s transformed into a light and airy and almost-fluffy mixture. And don’t worry – the tahini doesn’t lose it’s rich and nutty flavor. Seriously. Try it!
Whipped Tahini Za’atar Dressing
To my base of whipped tahini, I added some basic dressing staples: olive oil, salt, pepper, and za’atar. Za’atar is a spice mix I never knew I needed until I brought some home from the local market one day. Adding that to an otherwise simple vinaigrette really packs in all those wonderful zesty Mediterranean flavors you’re looking for in a salad like this.
Plus there’s kalamata olives (love) and feta cheese (love x2) in there too.
A crisp and crunchy Mediterranean rainbow pepper salad featuring a creamy zesty whipped tahini za’atar dressing. So colorful and festive!
1/2 head red leaf lettuce, leaves cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
5-6 mini rainbow sweet bell peppers, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
crumbled feta (optional)
For the Whipped Tahini Za'atar Dressing:
1 heaping tbsp tahini
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp za'atar spice mix
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
additional fresh lemon juice to taste
Toast Pumpkin Seeds: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds for a few minutes until they start to brown and crackle. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Make the Whipped Tahini Za'atar Dressing: In a large bowl, whisk tahini and lemon juice together until mixture becomes lighter and fluffier in texture. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients into the bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble Salad: In the same large bowl, add the rest of the salad ingredients and toss together until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Add more lemon juice if desired.
You can leave off the feta for a completely plant-based salad, it's delicious either way.