Sunday, 22 May 2011

Chop chop

Suddenly you've just got to have salad. The sun shines, the veggies are bursting with colour and flavour, all you want is crunch. It's lovely when someone remembers a salad we had ages ago. Imogen reminded us: we all made that lovely salad with.....sumac.  Great name for a dusty, sour Middle Eastern spice used in the Lebanese salad, Fatoush.   It's a dried and crushed berry, and surprisingly for something so exotic, the trees grow all over London.  We love Lebanese. There are lots of brilliant little Lebanese cafes in central London, big square silver trays of irresistible salads lined up in the windows, always so fresh, so friendly, so cheap.  And it's true, a year or so ago we made a lot of Fatoush.  

Well I say it was Fatoush, but we got carried away, and added a few of our own things, and left a few things out. And ok, I'm going to say it, ours is better!! So here it is, our Fatoush: 

Crisp cos lettuce, not quite a whole one, 2 tomatoes, 1 red onion, half cucumber, half a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, clove garlic, 2 large gherkins, large Tbs of capers - maybe some red pepper too. Everything chopped quite finely, good squeeze of lemon, and a very large Tbs Hellmans mayonnaise, maybe more. Salt, pepper, mix.  Tear two toasted pitta breads into pieces and scatter on top, sprinkle with 2 large Tbs of sumac, and drizzle the lot with olive oil.  Serve.

We stopped making that salad, but here are a couple that have been staples in our home for years.

First, tuna and rice salad.  This is a brilliant simple summer dish, very filling, and in my opinion, the best way to eat rice. Cup of brown rice simmered till just tender then cooled. Two tins of tuna with the oil. Chopped tomato, cucumber, parsley and lots of red onion. Plenty of lemon juice, lots of mayonnaise and salt and pepper (plenty of everything, really). Mix and serve on a bed of lettuce.

Then, tuna and bean salad.  I was addicted to this. First cook your white kidney beans, or..... open a can.  Rinse. Pile on a shallow plate. Top with flaked tuna, tuna oil,  red onions sliced into fine rings - quite a lot, lemon, lots more oil, parsley, pepper.

And a really, really simple starter that we have before almost every meal during the height of summer, when the tomatoes are at their best, with a glass of ice cold Beck's.  Chop two or three tomatoes,  put in a bowl with salt.  Chop two cloves of fresh juicy garlic into reasonable chunks, not too small, add to the tomatoes.  Allow to stand.  Toast a few slices of ciabbata or sourdough bread, pile the tomatoes on top, and douse with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.

And last, in a toasted pitta, chopped tomato, spring onion, avocado, salt, red chilli, oil. Mix well and fill the pitta.  If you have fresh coriander, that would be good too. It's just a guacomole, but I made it at the start of a solitary weekend, and ate it for every single meal.  That good.

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