Many years ago we took a trip Jordan and Syria, we loved it. The sights were breath taking, the people were friendly and the food was great and good for you - lots of fresh veggies and herbs. I asked every cafe owner and chef how they made the dishes and they were all willing to share their recipes; and the ingredients tasted much better than here due to they were picked that mourning and still farmed the traditional way they have done for years. I am all for local produce or growing your own.
The staples you need for almost every recipe are:
mint or spearmint
Now take a basic Salad:
6 small cucumbers, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
1 bunch of Italian parsley, rough chopped stems removed
1 small onion pureed and excess liquid removed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a large below with the exception of the lemon and the olive oil. In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Combined dressing with salad and toss to combine - done simple
Now if you add a few more ingredients you will have another salad,
all the above plus
2 cups shredded romaine
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint or spearmint - we had the mint in Jordan and the spearmint in Syria
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 cup of grated radishes
1 bunch of green onions, just the tops diced
1 teaspoon of Sumac
4 cloves of garlic, diced
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, garlic, sumac, salt and pepper.
Add all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl mix in dressing and toss to combine.
In some places in Syria we also had Fattoush with Pomegranate seeds mixed in
Variation on the Fattoush,
Add 1 teaspoon of pomegranate syrup to the dressing before whisking, it makes the dressing less tart. And 1/2 cup of chopped Sorrel to the salad.
Change a few of the ingredients in the above Fattaush and you will get Tabbouli
Remove the following from the above:
Mint or Spearmint
1 cup of Bulgar wheat
Juice of 1 lime (my addition)
1/2 cup of chopped Sorrel (also my addition)
Pour the Bulgar wheat into a bowl and cover with enough hot tap water to cover the wheat plus two inches, let stand for 1 hour.
Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, by now you should know what those ingredients are, hold back the romaine lettuce.
Once the wheat has taken up all the water transfer to another bowl and add to it all the dressing ingredients and mix well to combine.
Pour dressing over salad ingredients and chill up to an hour but now more than 24 hours.
When ready to serve, place a bed of romaine at the bottom of each bowl and add the salad to the top. I do not add the romaine to the salad since it wilts when being dressed and chilled.
Now there is one other combination that is just great. We had it while in the Bedouin village in Syria, i do not know the name and i have switched out some of the ingredients that are hard to find.