Middle Eastern Salad Recipe Challenge

Middle Eastern Salad

My cousin broke her leg roller skating. It was such a bad break, she was a minor celebrity at her orthopedic surgeon’s office. You do not ever want to be a minor celebrity because you broke your bones in a truly spectacular way. She’s been stuck in her bedroom for weeks. Her husband has been an outstanding caregiver but even he needed a break so I went over to babysit her for a few hours last Friday.

Since I can’t do one thing at a time, I decided to make one of my recipe challenges and have her try it.

She was so bored she readily agreed, even though she knows for a fact that I am a hit or miss cook.

I made Contessa Garten’s Middle Eastern Salad.

It involved a lot of chopping but I learned something. I generally avoid fresh tomatoes because of what I call their tomato snot. It’s that viscous stuff that holds the seeds. Well, you’re supposed to scoop all that out! Then chop up what’s left. I scooped out all the seeds in the cucumber as well (they make my cousin burp). There were all sorts of leaves to chop up as well. Parsley, mint and basil. Then some garlic, a can of chickpeas, and a dressing of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Then you toast up some pita bread and serve.

My cousin raves about it. I thought maybe she was just sick of the Egg McMuffins she had been insisting on eating for the past week. But then I had some and it was delicious!

I ate waaaaaay too much. It was so good I forgot I made it and went on and on about how good it was. When I remembered I had made it I was embarrassed but my cousin had enough pain killers on board that she didn’t really notice I was engaging in a fit of self praise.

We as a family frown on self praise. We depend on each other to provide it. It can get weird but whatever.

This salad is absolutely worth making. I went a little easy on all the mint and parsley and basil because my cousin was taking a lot of medication but it was still so good.

I highly recommend taking the time and effort to put this together. Oh and toast the pita.

  • 10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored, and ½-inch-diced
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and ½-inch-diced
  • 1 can or jar (12 to 16 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 8 ounces good feta cheese, ½-inch-diced
  • Toasted pita bread, for serving

Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently. Serve the salad with the toasted pita bread.

Copyright 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

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