Even though it’s still below freezing during the nights, in the second week of April, I am very excited about spring this year! I have started herbs from seed on my kitchen window sill – basil, parsley and mint. It’s the first year in many that I have a place to start seeds that Bert the cat can’t get to! (The awful truth is that he is too fat to jump up onto the counter!) I also am forcing some daffodils, which are almost ready for the ground, and waiting until the last real frost to plant 4 mini lilac bushes, and starting Bells of Ireland and some peppermint striped hydrangea. It’s like a whole new world living in this new house!
I have been awful at posting recently, but I have had some health issues, and the Hubby has been traveling. A lot! I am alone this week, until Thursday, and so this non-meat eating house is bustling with meat cooking for a change! But, having said that I made two things this weekend that could be considered vegetarian fare. First, I made a beautiful fresh “fatoosh” salad, I’ll explain that in a bit, and I also made home made Sauce Bearnaise. For anyone that hears a French sauce name and rolls their eyes, it’s amazingly simple although you do have to use a double boiler (or bain marie). I am going to give you both recipe’s but in two blogs. I am so thrilled to be keeping my blogging commitment, that I am drawing this out a bit!
I’ll do the Fatoosh first. Sauce Bearnaise will be in a day or two!
If you live, as I do, in Dearborn Michigan, you’ll know that it is a town that boasts the largest Arab population outside the Middle East. As such you can’t swing a stick without hitting a Middle Eastern restaurant. And fatoosh is a delicious salad that they make. Some cooks make it with Romaine, or Cos lettuce, I also see it made with spinach, others forgo the lettuce and just make it with the other main ingredients. English cucumber, green peppers, tomatoes and a hit of parsley and mint. The dressing is as simple as you can possibly make it, fresh lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and, if you can find it, some zatar. Zatar is a ground spice that is remarkably sour, almost like freeze dried lemon juice. It’s a vivid red and makes the dressing special. If you can’t find it, don’t sweat it. If you don’t have a Middle Eastern market near you, you can also find it at Penzey’s online. One other thing that you really have to add is what makes the salad, toasted pita shards. That is a fairly simple thing to do. I often make this with shards of feta as well, to make a meal out of it. Try this salad, and you’ll be so enthusiastic about the summer, maybe you’ll grow your own ingredients!
Middle Eastern Fatoosh Salad
- Juice of 1 lemon (perhaps more, to taste)
- 4 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil (something really tasty)
- 1 teaspoon salt (dissolved in the lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon zatar (optional)
- 1 large English cucumber, cut into large chunks (don’t peel it)
- 1 large good tomato (or several ripe small ones) cut into chunks about the same size as the cukes
- 1 green pepper, cut into chunks
- 2 split pita breads, toasted until they’re crunchy, broken into chunky shards
Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, salt, olive oil and zatar in a small bowl. While you chop the rest of the ingredients, let this sit to infuse a bit. Taste it and adjust the salt and lemon to your taste. Chop the other vegetables, and put into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle half the pita shards over the salad and pour over the dressing. Mix with a spoon (or your clean hands) until everything is well coated with the dressing. Cover and put into your fridge so everything marinates, and crisps up about 20 minutes, the pita shards will soften, but they’re delicious like that. When you are just ready to serve, sprinkle the rest of the pita shards over, for crunch, and dig in. You an add pitted olives to this and feta to punch it up and make it a main dish as well.
Just thinking about this, I am going to make myself another bowl! Enjoy!