Wednesday, June 26, 2013

tomato and cucumber salsa-ish salad

In our house, we have no problem consuming a massive amount of chips and homemade salsa and calling that dinner. Frankly, if I am eating a pound of tomatoes all on my own, I think that counts as a meal.

This salad started out life as an Ina Garten recipe for middle eastern vegetable salad. It is a very good recipe but I confess I was overwhelmed by the feta cheese. So, out went the feta cheese and I tripled the amount of tomatoes. What stays is an addictive dance between basil and mint, lemon and garlic, cucumber and chickpea.

I found myself toasting up pita bread in the oven to enjoy alongside this salad and then using the pita bread to scoop up bites. It was then that I realized this salad is also a kind of salsa.

One small note: this salsa-ish salad really does need to be served at room temperature. I find that, in general, fresh tomato dishes do not benefit from time in the fridge. This is a good dish to make when I want a little (slightly) mindless kitchen work: chopping tomatoes, juicing lemons. With a splash of wine to sip on and Harriet buzzing around at my feet. It is a nice transitionary scene from the workday.

Speaking of Harriet buzzing around at my feet, this is my (usual) view in the kitchen:

 tomato and cucumber salsa-ish salad

10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2-3 pounds ripe roma tomatoes, seeded, cored and 1/2-inch-diced
1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and 1/2-inch-diced
1 jar (12 to 16 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup good olive oil
toasted pita bread or pita chips, for serving

1) Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss gently to coat all the vegetables. Serve at room temperature. (Don't panic, it seems like a lot of dressing, but works out perfectly.)

3) Serve the salad with pita chips or toasted pita bread. To me it is part salad, part salsa, but all deliciousness.

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