This salad makes a satisfying main dish. It's important to grill the pita bread until it is really crisp and golden or it will quickly become soggy when mixed with the other ingredients. The dressing adds the distinctive Mediterranean flavours of olives, anchovy and garlic.
*Instead of toasted pita bread, try polenta croutons. Bring 3 cups (750 ml) vegetable stock, preferably homemade, to the boil and add 1 cup (170 g) instant polenta, stirring. Cook for about 5 minutes, or according to packet instructions, until the mixture is thick and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Stir in 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese and ¼ cup (15 g) chopped fresh coriander leaves and season to taste. Quickly spread the polenta in a greased shallow tin about 28 x 18 cm and leave to cool for about 30 minutes or until set. Then turn out and cut into 1 cm cubes. Spread out the croutons on foil in a grill pan and toast under a preheated moderate grill for 5–8 minutes, turning several times. Add most of the croutons to the salad and toss together. Scatter over the remaining few croutons and serve.
*Chickpea and eggplant salad: Cut a 350 g eggplant into 1 cm cubes and fry in 2 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp cumin seeds and continue to cook until the eggplant is lightly browned and tender. Tip into a bowl and mix with 2 cans chickpeas (about 400 g each), drained and rinsed, 1 thinly sliced red onion, 175 g baby spinach leaves and 1 deseeded and thinly sliced yellow capsicum. For the dressing, whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves and pepper to taste.
*Although olives have a relatively high fat content, it is mainly unsaturated fat, which is considered to be the healthiest kind of fat to include in the diet.
*Chickpeas are an excellent choice for people with diabetes because of their very low Glycaemic Index.
GI estimate low.