Salata Baladia, the Most Popular Salad of the Middle East
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
Who says you need lettuce to make the perfect salad? In Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, cucumber tomato salad is so versatile it is eaten for breakfast as well as lunch or dinner. This salad could end up next to a plate of scrambled eggs and warm pita bread scooped into a hummus sandwich or draped over a bowl of warm mujadara. The name “Salata Baladia” means salad of the land, or more literally, country-style salad, as tomatoes and cucumbers are abundant and native to the countries of the middle east. This salad is perfect to eat at the peak of summer when the tomatoes are ripe and sweet, and the cucumbers are crispy and fresh.
Persian cucumber is a must as there are few seeds and the flavor is superior to the waterlogged English cucumber. Roma tomatoes also hold the best in this salad, as the water content is lower than larger heirloom tomatoes. If preparing for company, make sure you add the salt at the very last minute. Traditionally the cucumbers and tomatoes are cut into very small cubes so everything is symmetrical. This makes it easier to scoop the salad into sandwiches or top other dishes with little mess.
To see the technique, click on the video below:
2 large diced Persian Cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
2 diced Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup finely chopped mint (dried mint is great as well, if using dried mint, use 1 tbs)
A handful of parsley washed and finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt to taste
Toss together the cucumber, tomato, onion, parsley, and mint. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, and drizzle the salad with the dressing. Season with salt. Serve immediately.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East, and soon to be cookbook author. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/