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Spoon Salad

Updated October 30, 2017
Spoon Salad
Spoon Salad
This image courtesy of Kristin Teig

The ingredients for a spoon salad are chopped small so that they can be eaten with a spoon or on a leaf of romaine. Spoon salads remind me of traditional Spanish gazpachos in which, as the vegetables sit, they weep a beautiful clean vegetable juice that is delicious to slurp up or soak into pita bread. There is a lot of opportunity to create different colors and textures in this salad by using yellow or orange peppers or a variety of heirloom tomatoes that might be in season in the early fall. If fresh pomegranates aren’t available, you can leave them out or substitute finely chopped French breakfast or watermelon radishes. If it’s summertime and hot, you can stir some ice cubes into the salad to quickly chill it and encourage more juices to form from the vegetables. It is delicious as is or served with yogurt, fried peppers, or grilled fish. 

Serves4 to 6

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total TimeUnder 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, minced, or 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, mostly the white part
  • 1 Persian or 1/2 large English cucumber, halved, seeded, and diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced small (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parlsey leaveas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh spreamint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Maras pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 romaine lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces

Instructions

  1. Place the tomatoes in a fine sieve over a bowl and add 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt. Stir and let the water drain from the tomatoes for about 10 minutes.

  2. Combine the onion, cucumber, green bell pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, parsley, mint, dill, and Maras pepper in a bowl. Stir in the drained tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled with the romaine leaves to scoop up the salad. The salad is best eaten the day it’s made but it can be covered and stored overnight in the refrigerator.

Maras Pepper or Aleppo Pepper

True Aleppo pepper hasn’t been available since the crisis in Syria began. In southeastern Turkey, not far from the border with Syria and around the city of Kahramanmaras, is the Maras region, where these sweet oily peppers thrive and are usually what is imported and labeled as Aleppo pepper. You will find a shaker of Maras red pepper flakes on the table in every kebob joint in Turkey. Bright red, brightly flavored, and oily, with a bittersweet, slow, mild heat, these peppers broaden all the other flavors in a dish.

You can replace those red pepper flakes that you have in the cabinet (the ones that you see in a shaker in a pizzeria) with Maras pepper. It will change your life and your recipes for the better. If you don’t go through it as fast as we do, keep some on hand in the freezer. Our friends and neighbors at formaggiokitchen.com (located in Cambridge) have beautiful Maras pepper.

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate molasses is not actually molasses but rather a syrup made from the juice of sour pomegranates cooked down with a little salt and sometimes sugar. It’s tart, sweet, and acidic and can be used in place of vinegar or lemon. Making it is very labor intensive, but it preserves the abundant pomegranate crops throughout the Middle East. Unfortunately, there are many commercial brands that add too much sugar and coloring to offset the cost of labor and fruit.

This pantry gem brightens a rich stew after it has been braised all day and adds intensity and acidity to meze dishes. It makes a wonderful dressing for fattoush (page 73) and a great glaze for roasted lamb or chicken. Store in a cool, dark pantry once it’s opened. My favorite brand, Mymouné, is made by a cooperative at the foot of Mount Sannine in Lebanon. It is available at some Middle Eastern specialty stores, sofrabakery.com, or mymoune.com.

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