I travel a lot for work. A favorite ritual after each trip is to try and bring some of the new flavors back to our table in Haiti. In a small way, it makes these long trips and hard-to-imagine places a little more understandable for our two curious toddlers. This Lebanese Inspired Cucumber & Tomato Salad has been an often requested favorite of Rebecca and the kids since my travels to Lebanon in February.
Lebanon is stunning and amazingly complex for such a small country. The cuisine of Lebanon, like the country itself, sits at the intersection of many major cultural currents. This vibrant salad is my take on the refreshing salads I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. The ingredients are simple but the result is surprisingly complex, a bright and versatile salad with tangy herb flavor. This salad can be eaten as a main, as a side, wrapped in fresh warm pita bread, or as an accompaniment to grilled meat or cheese. Note that this recipe uses green zatar spice which can be found online, most Middle Eastern groceries, and surprisingly even in Port-au-Prince, Haiti due the large number of a Lebanese and Syrian diaspora in Haiti.
Yield: serves 4 as a side salad
2 medium cucumbers, finely chopped (approximately 3 cups)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (approximately 2 cups)
4 stalks green onions, finely chopped
1/4 small white onion, finely chopped
About 10 green olives, finely chopped (pitted)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons green zatar spice
1/8 teaspoon dried mint (can substitute a few leaves of fresh mint in the salad, or omit)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Mix together the salad ingredients (cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, onion, green olives, and parsley) in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, zatar, mint, salt, and pepper) until evenly mixed.
Toss the salad with the dressing and serve within a few hours.