I don’t think of salads as diet food. It’s what I was raised to do, but the days of wan supermarket lettuce, with its limp produce aisle cohorts are long gone. These days, lettuce is early summer fare, along with freshly-dug radishes and scallions. It’s not quite time for tomatoes and cucumbers, but today’s fresh market offerings are better than the supermarket fare of yore (yore being the late 20th Century).
Salads are a broader category for me now, too. Shaved Brussels sprouts or cabbage might go into a winter salad, roasted tomatoes and eggplant into a high summer version. But right now, salads look a lot like the ones in my elementary school picture books – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, carrots – they’re all fair game.
Tonight’s salad is fattoush, which adds a healthy dose of flat-leaf parsley and mint to a mix of romaine, onion, radishes, and cucumbers. It’s tossed in a lemony, garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette and finished with grindings of black pepper and a sprinkling of sumac. I’m out of sumac, so I substituted za’atar. I’m glad I did, because there’s lots of sumac, but it also adds a burst of thyme and sesame.
My bowl included pieces of pita that had been brushed with olive oil and crisped in the oven. The gluten-free version included crispy rice crackers instead. Both were full of flavour.
There will be many more summer salads this year, but I’ll be revisiting this one regularly, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.