This Middle Eastern Salata is a celebration of summer’s bounty as well as a gift that keeps on giving as the leftovers can be tossed with pasta to make an amazing pasta salad.
Sammy and I made this Middle Eastern Salata together; salads like this are good practice for bigger kids working on knife skills. The night we made this salad, we served it as part of a Middle Eastern inspired dinner with kofta inspired burgers and roasted potatoes spiced with za’atar seasoning:
Sammy got into the entire process; as I have mentioned before, at my house preparing meals or desserts includes the actual prep and then photographing your results:
If you are wondering that is the old tripod–and clearly not the new table. The last few photographs I have taken have been inside with a whole new set-up, but I am a bit behind so you have not seen them yet.
This Middle Eastern Salata is a fantastic summer salad, because it uses fresh summer produce, like tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, and also because the leftovers can be used to make a refreshing pasta salad with minimal effort the next day. We enjoyed the pasta salad so much that we ate it until it was gone, scraping the dish clean (as the days go by the arugula in particular get wilted, but the pasta gives it enough structure that you don’t notice). Pardon the photo, but I just grabbed a quick, indoors iPhone shot of the “Middle Eastern Pasta Salata:”
All we (ok, Alex) did is add pasta and a bit more feta cheese the next day. Perfect summer eating!
Don't worry about making too much of this salad because the leftovers can be combined with pasta to make an outstanding pasta salad. If you cannot buy Za'atar seasoning, here is a recipe to make your own.
- 1-2 t Za'atar seasoning
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 T thicker (more aged or reduced) balsamic vinegar
- 1 T pomegranate molasses
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of sugar, to taste
- 18 mini cucumbers, sliced (dice if you use bigger cucumbers)
- 2 sweet bell peppers, diced
- 1/3 cup diced red onion, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes
- 28 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped (you could also use a fleshy tomato such as Roma)
- 1 lb baby arugula
- 10-15 Kalamata and/or black olives
- 5-6 oz Crumbled creamy feta cheese (I recommend French feta cheese if you can find it)
Whisk together everything but the oil. Then, continually whisking, add the oil in a slow stream until the dressing is emulsified. Taste. Add more sugar if necessary--the dressing should be fairly strong.
Toss all of the salad ingredients together. Add the dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.
If you have leftovers, go ahead and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. The next day boil up some pasta and toss it with the leftovers. Add some more feta cheese if you need it to be a main entree.
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