This flavorful Middle Eastern Syrian Salad is dressed in lemon juice, fresh garlic, olive oil, and mint.
Considering the theme of The Lemon Bowl, it is probably no surprise that my favorite salad recipe contains all of my favorite ingredients: lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. This is, of course, the basis of a Syrian (or Lebanese) salad.
I grew up shadowing my Great Aunt Vieve as she would prepare this delicious, fresh, and addictive salad. Dressing the salad directly on the greens, I sat in awe as she seasoned, tested, and adjusted. No measuring, no teaspoons, just instinct.
Utensils were nowhere in sight. Instead, she would simply use her hands (your greatest tool in the kitchen, by the way) to gently toss the salad, being careful not to bruise the lettuce and herbs.
Although I have no proof, I am a firm believer that my Great Aunt Vieve lived a long and healthy life due to the daily consumption of raw garlic. (Cooked whole garlic has very little, if any, medicinal benefits.)
Not to brag, but I may or may not have written a research paper about the health benefits of garlic for my International Cuisine elective at Boston University. Shocker.
When consuming a rainbow of produce, don’t forget about the allium (or white) family which includes garlic, onions, scallions, etc. Chopping, mincing, crushing and grating garlic is the perfect way to release the essential oils and increase the flavor profile of any dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should you eat raw garlic?
Allicin: this enzyme has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. They help lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots and reduces the risk of stroke, and lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Nutrient-rich: raw garlic is packed with minerals (and little calories) like manganese, Vitamin C, and selenium. Also small amounts of fiber, calcium, copper, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and potassium.
Health benefits: Reduces the risk of cancer, especially in the digestive system, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
What’s in a Syrian salad?
A typical Syrian or Lebanese salad is very simple and contains romaine, cucumber, and tomato. My husband doesn’t eat cucumbers or tomatoes so our typical salad will also include red peppers and radishes. I love the white, spicy radishes but you could add anything you wish – carrots, celery, yellow peppers, red leaf, you name it. Heck, this dressing would be delicious on roasted cauliflower. Whatever you do, don’t forget the raw garlic!
Does dried or fresh mint matter?
Dried mint works really well during the non-growing season! Either one is just fine!
You can toss the salad directly before eating or chill first. Either way, you’ll be asking for seconds.
If the thought of making your own salad dressing without any teaspoons or measuring makes you nervous, don’t worry! I perfected (and measured!) my great aunt’s recipe over the years and am sharing it here with you. I’ve taken so many of my family’s beloved recipes and perfected them, wrote them down, and shared them with others in a series of cookbooks and here on this blog! Some of my favorites are Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash, Authentic Lebanese Falafel, and Homemade Classic Lebanese Hummus with Toasted Pine Nuts.
Your fork is waiting.
Middle Eastern Syrian Salad
- 6 cups romaine (chopped)
- 1 large tomato (chopped)
- 4 white radishes (thinly sliced)
- 1 red pepper (diced)
- 1 peeled cucumber (chopped)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped mint (or 2 tablespoons dried mint)
- 1 lemon (juiced )
- 2 cloves garlic (grated/crushed)
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons za’atar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place your salad ingredients of choice in a large bowl.
- Add fresh herbs.
- Squeeze the juice of one lemon around the bowl, carefully holding your opposite hand underneath to catch the seeds.
- Grate garlic directly over the salad using a microplane.
- Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the salad (this will help ensure the salad is dressed evenly as you toss.)
- Using, hands, gently toss the salad together. Sprinkle with zaatar, salt and pepper to taste.
Check out more Lebanese recipes on my Pinterest board!