06 August 2010

Israeli Salad/ Fattoush/ Cucumber-Tomato Confetti Salad

This salad has accrued so many names—yes, there are many more—because it is a real no-brainer. If you tend even a modest garden, at some point you are likely to experience a flood of cucumbers and tomatoes. If you live in the Middle East or Mediterranean, you always have lemons and olive oil on hand. Hence this salad.

Israeli Salad

1 cucumber
1 tomato
optional additions: 1 bell pepper, 1 member of the onion family, 1 medium carrot, etc.
fresh squozen lemon juice
extra-virgin olive oil
fresh herb of choice, minced, optional
salt and pepper to taste, optional

1. Seed cucumber. Cut all vegetables into tiny cubes. Mix them in a bowl.
2. Mix lemon juice and olive oil. Add a teaspoon at a time to the salad until everything is nicely coated but not drowning.
3. Add fresh herbs and eat it!

But Israeli salad (the name I first encountered) can be so much more than a salad, o loyal readers. It's magical. It can make all your gourmet dreams come true.

Top Ten Ways Israeli Salad Betters Your Life

1. As an attractive side salad.
2. As a condiment topping your Mexican entrees: quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, taco salad, etc.
3. As a way to use up extra vegetables, beans, rice, etc. Just mix them in. No one will notice.
4. Slices of toasted baguette + Israeli salad = bruschetta
5. Boring tomato pasta sauce receives a last-minute kick in the pants.
6. As part of a Mediterranean meze of dishes. Just add dates, nuts, figs, prunes, olives, soft cheeses, warm pita, roasted vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, and/or baba ganouj.
7. As part of Spanish tapas night. Just add plates of manchego cheese, toasted almonds, orange segments, fig spread, toasted baguette, fresh endive or radicchio leaves, a garlicky fried potato omelette, rosemary-infused extra virgin olive oil, and/or roasted eggplant slices wrapped around feta cheese and roasted red peppers. Hey, I didn't say it would be quick.
8. Make easy gazpacho, also good in tapas. In a blender purée yogurt with Israeli salad. Add low-sodium tomato juice until it reaches the consistency you like. Grate in plenty of fresh black pepper. Chill until serving time. Garnish with leftover Israeli salad.
9. Subsitute for ketchup or tomato slices in sandwiches, burgers, scrambled eggs, hot dogs, caprese salads, etc.
10. Actually, I only had 9 ideas.

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