Syrian Salad

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I have a favorite Middle Eastern restaurant that I’ve been going to for more than 20 years, even as it’s changed locations from a house on a street in a “bad” part of town to a stand-alone building that used to house a prior Middle Eastern restaurant. And I’ve always loved the salad, despite the fact that it’s certainly not organic, the lettuce is iceberg, and it’s nothing fancy…but something about the dressing just makes me want to eat it and keep eating it. In my mind, I called it a Greek salad. But it’s different from the red-wine vinegar, heavy garlic, and oregano flavor of a Greek salad—although I like that, too.

Then I read in the local paper that the family that owns the restaurant—Aladdin—is actually Syrian. I also learned that not only is the restaurant family owned, but the family makes everything from scratch. So the last time I was there, I asked the waiter how they make the salad dressing. It turns out he had made it himself the night before. So I got the recipe straight from the chef’s mouth. And like all the truly best things in life, it’s surprisingly simple to make.

As in all good recipes, the measurements are not exact, so feel free to experiment. The only requirements with the salad are iceberg lettuce and some feta cheese. Of course, tomatoes, olives, green peppers, and cucumbers are good options, too. But they are not required. And then…the dressing!

Syrian Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon or less of garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of a half a lemon (or 1 Tablespoon lemon juice)
  • About 3 Tablespoons good olive oil

Directions:

Put the ingredients in a bowl and mix them up. Toss with the salad.

END NOTE: When I wrote my open letter to President Obama regarding Syria, I was very happy to get a note of support on my Facebook page from my town’s local Syrian community. But right after I wrote this blog, I sat down to eat my Sunday lunch and read in the local paper that the UN delivered food to 3.3 million people in Syria in October 2013. And that many more than that are inaccessible to help. While I’m glad we didn’t “go to war,” it’s important that we stay focused on helping people. We here are so fortunate to be able to eat good, clean food. Please do what you can to help or, at the very least, remember the preciousness of food whenever you eat it.

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4 Responses to Syrian Salad

  1. Donna in Delaware November 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    I like Middle Eastern food also. This salad is very simple and tasty. Maria, since you like this type of food, there is a small eatery a few doors up or down the street from the Organic Mattress Store in Hellerstown, Pa. that sells the best falafel that I have ever had, in and outside of the Middle East! The owner/cook is Syrian, and a really kind man. My husband and I will drive there just for the falafel. Although we have not been in a while (we hope that he is still there) we are planning to make another trip to eat there soon. Of course the owner would not part with his recipe. I can’t remember the name of the eatery, but the people at the mattress store will be able to point the way. Just thought you might like to know since it is in your neck of the woods.

  2. Alice Green November 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    I wish there was a way to get our government to stop giving ALL military money, arms, tanks, etc. and instead give the same countries food, medicine and clean water. And make sure it goes to the poor and sick people – not to the armies and the wealthy in those countries. Then maybe we would have more friends than enemies. Finally, it would be a better use of our tax dollars.

  3. maria (farm country kitchen) November 7, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    DONNA!!! I eat there all the time! It’s my kids and my favorite stop on the way to or from my daughter’s horseback riding. I love the Kibbee (sp?) and hummus. It’s a bit of a dive and he refuses to make Taboulli (sp?) anymore but let me know when you are coming and we can meet you there!!!!

  4. Donna in Delaware November 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    ARGHHHHHHH! Thanks Maria! I would be so happy to meet you and your daughters!!! Yes, it is a dive, totally. But the food is quite good, and yes, I love the falafel! I will let you know when we are on our way there. I hope that you will be able to join us, or me! I’m lovin’ it! Thanks Maria.

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