Here’s How every dinner started in my mother’s Mediterranean kitchen: A large bowl was filled with chopped vegetables — usually tomatoes, cucumbers and onions — and then tossed with fresh herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Sometimes mom’s salata (village salad) was transformed into dinner by adding a side of feta cheese and warm pita bread.
To many, salad is served as a means of stimulating the appetite, a meal’s introduction but not the meal itself. A pile of greens and a few cucumber rings doesn’t quite cut it for dinner. But, by following a few simple principles adapted from the Mediterranean diet, we can build perfect — and perfectly satisfying — supper salads.
Follow this basic framework to add flavor, texture and color to any salad:
• Approach your salad as a complete meal in a bowl. Build it mostly around quality vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Carnivores can add a small portion of chicken or fish — even Spanish chorizo, if you’re feeling feisty.
• Next, bring in the bold Mediterranean flavors: aromatics such as onions and garlic; warm spices such as sumac and Za’atar; and lots of fresh herbs.
• For the dressing? Olive oil and citrus or quality vinegar. Then play with ingredients that add heft, like tahini (sesame paste) or harissa (chili paste).
• One last thing; Toss in a handful of your favorite nuts and dried fruits. I like the combination of toasted almonds, pine nuts and dried figs.
Here are five Mediterranean-style supper salads to get you started.
Suzy Karadsheh is the author of the popular food blog The Mediterranean Dish. She was born and raised blocks away from the shores of the Mediterranean in Egypt; a “boat ride” away from places like Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Italy. Proximity to the sea’s riches, combined with her family’s fondness for gatherings and her international travels, created a passionate cook who lives by the values instilled in the Mediterranean diet: Eat with the seasons, use whole foods and above all, share! See more of Suzy’s delicious recipes on The Mediterranean Dish, and find her on your favorite social media.