Tasting Jerusalem: Not the Same Ol’ Cucumber Tomato Onion Salad
Greek salad is one of those of dishes about which it seems there’s nothing left to learn. The cucumber-tomato-red onion combo is so common, even my regular ol’ grocery store usually has a big bowl of it swimming in dressing in the deli department. While it’s not exclusively Greek and appears in multiple countries across the Middle East and Mediterranean, the variations are usually minor, some include olives, feta cheese, red bell peppers, even a little romaine, maybe a little parsley, usually with a lemon or red wine vinaigrette. Eat one, and you’ve eaten them all, right?
In the summer, Greek salad is a default around here, beating out even basic green. So for all those reasons, I was ready to skip right over the recipe for Spiced Chickpeas with Fresh Vegetables in Jerusalem. How could it possibly be anything special? Don’t make that mistake.
I’m not saying this salad is a life-changer, but the addition of spiced chickpeas and a sherry vinaigrette make it worth trying out. And the fact that you can get away with using a can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, will put this salad on the table on a hot summer night in no time flat. The quick fry in spices (and do make it quick with canned beans) masks some of that tinnyness you sometimes get with chickpeas.
One tip, it is important to use the proportions called for in the vinaigrette. I typically use less oil, but when I tried to wing it for it another salad using just the ingredients called for, the sherry vinegar was a bit harsh.
Serve it with a little tzatziki or hummus for a light vegetarian meal, or alongside some grilled chicken and naan (we tend to mix our metaphors and our cuisines). Whatever you do, don’t just dismiss this one out of hand, even if Naama’s Fattoush catches your eye first.