Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Turkish Shepherd's Salad

When I am having a bad day, I work in my garden, especially now in tomato season. If I am having a terrible day, I go to the local ethinic market and I find an ingreident that I have never used before. I greedily purchase my treasure, and google the recipes I can use the ingredient in. Truth be told, I have had some sad days lately. In attempt to cheer myself up, I bought Sumac. Partially, because I have never used it before, which is odd, seeing that I am Egyptian and it is a common middle eastern spice. Partially, because I had faintly recollected that it was poisonous...

After some research I have found out that it is not exactly poison. My delusions of granduer picturing me pitted and dueling with death have ended. Although I did eat torofugu (posionous blowfish) and drink habu saki (saki with the venom of a habu snake) when I lived in Japan. I am also fond of Virgina Nettle soup, which is also poisonous until after you cook it.

Sumac is the dried fruit ground into powder of a Rhus plant. The fruit actually looks a little bit like grapes. Which makes sense, because when I had this at an Afghanistan restaurant the owner said it was grapes. The taste is lemony and a little bitter adding a pleasant brightness to meats and salads. In most middle eastern cuisine it is a meat seasoning for kebabs or shwarma. However, in Turkey they use it on veggies. Most commonly you will find the spice mixed into a blend called Za'atar which is ubiquoutous to middle eastern cuisine. Everything has za'atar on it, pita, meats, veggies, hummus, furniture, small children, pets, you name it. It is a warm and wonderful spice blend, but that is for another post.

So here goes an easy and delicious salad with my star ingredient Sumac.


4 heirloom or any kind of tomatoes washed and diced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 freshly squeezed lemons
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup cilantro
1/3 cup parsley


1. Dice the tomatoes, and slice the shallot. Place artfully on a plate.
2. In seperate bowl make the dressing by mincing the garlic, juice the lemon, add all fo the spices and slowly drizzling in the olive oil while you whisk.
3. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and shallots.
4. Tear the herbs and arrange on the plate.

I served mine as part of a middle eastern dinner, but this is wonderful as a side dish to anything. Many of the ingredients are common in Latin, Indian, and Asain cuisines so you could match this side dish with anything.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy chopping...


Dave said...

Very refreshing!

Caitlin said...

Have you ever heard of and/or can you please keep an eye out for ras-el-hanout spice blend? My tapas cookbook says it is a blend of galangal, rosebuds, black peppercorns, ginger, cardamom, nigella, cayenne, allspice, lavender, cinnamon, cassia, coriander, nutmeg, mace, and cloves!