A couple of my girlfriends and I meet up about once a month for a glorious evening of non-stop chatting, laughter and general hilarity. Our meetings move around to different restaurants on occasion but for the most part, we stick with the best pizza and wine in Indianapolis. Now, a salad has to be really good to be able to hold its own amongst all of that awesomeness. And just like everything else at that lovely place, it does.

The version we usually order includes meat but I decided to go with a meatless version here at home.  I’m all for anything that makes me actually crave veggies, and this salad does exactly that. Shredded gouda might have a small-ish part in that, but it really is the combination of all of the components that just make it work so well. When we have all of the components on hand, I end up eating it for basically every meal other than breakfast (though I would not be opposed) until we run out of one of them. If you need a little jolt in your salad routine, this may be just the thing!

  • Yield about 4 servings


  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2-3 oz. gouda, shredded


  • 01

    Preheat the broiler to high. Put the bell pepper on a baking sheet or in a metal baking pan. Place the pan under the broiler and let cook about 5-6 minutes or until the first side is completely blackened. Flip once with tongs and continue to cook until the skin of the pepper is entirely blackened and blistered. Remove to a bowl, cover, and let stand about 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skin and remove the stem and seeds. Slice and coarsely chop.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, combine the chickpeas in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Toss well to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  • 03

    Prepare a small bowl of ice water and plunge the onions into the water. Let soak about 30 seconds, then drain and blot away excess liquid. (This takes away the harsh bite of the raw onion.) In a liquid measuring cup, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegars and whisk until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  • 04

    In a large bowl, combine the spinach and romaine. Add in a few tablespoons of the dressing and toss well. Add more dressing to taste if needed. Top with the sliced onion, chopped pepper, chickpeas, and shredded gouda. Toss once more to combine, and serve.