Considering the theme of The Lemon Bowl, it is probably no surprise that my favorite and most common salad 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, tasted and adjusted. No measuring, no teaspoons, just instinct. Utensils were no where in sight. Instead, she would simply use her hands (your greatest tool in the kitchen) 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.
Why should you eat raw garlic?
- Contains anti-oxidant properties and is a source of selenium
- Lowers blood pressure
- Prevents blood clots and thus reduces the risk of stroke
- Reduces the risk of cancer, especially in the digestive system
- Lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol
- Helps regulate blood sugar levels
What’s in a Lebanese salad?
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
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped mint or 2 tablespoons dried mint
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 cloves garlic grated/crushed
- 4 teaspoons 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 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!