Salata Balela--The Versatile Salad of Egypt
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
In Part 1 of my Summer Salad Series, I shared the recipe for Salata Baladia, the ubiquitous cucumber tomato salad popular in every country of the Levant. Now I am going to explore how this salad takes a dramatic turn in North Africa, particularly in Egypt, with their protein-packed Salata Balela (Balela Salad). The unique additions to this salad include; cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil, as well as protein-packed chickpeas and garbanzo beans. Olives add a dose of healthy fats, the way apple cider vinegar adds a tangy addition to the olive oil-based vinaigrette.
A final dusting of sumac adds a lemony flavor and beautiful color to this salad. Sumac comes from dried and coarsely-ground berries which have a sour, citrusy flavor. The burgundy-colored berries grow in clusters and are widely used throughout Middle Eastern cuisine. Sprinkle the deep red powder over salads like this one, dips like hummus, as a spice rub for chicken, or use as a garnish over rice. This salad makes a great addition to a potluck or picnic as it is non-perishable, as well as a great vegan main course or hearty side dish.
Check out how easy it is to put together in the video below:
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow) chopped
- 3/4 cup canned black beans (rinsed)
- 3/4 cup garbanzo beans (rinsed)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 6 leaves basil finely sliced
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 good quality extra virgin olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, pepper, black beans, garbanzo beans, parsley, salt to taste, and basil. When ready to serve, put the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake together. Pour the amount over the salad as desired. Sprinkle a little more sumac on the top. You can also put this salad in a wrap if you wish for a heartier meal.
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/