Adapted from Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection
"There are many versions of this salad throughout the Middle East. But it was in a greasy gas station in the middle of Syria, across from the farm where the ingredients were grown, that I truly discovered the magic of this crisp staple salad—local ingredients and fresh mint. It’s important to prepare it with the highest-quality olive oil to complement the flavors. Serve the salad on a large flat platter, and instead of spooning it onto individual plates, simply dig your forks in together and share."—Allan Karl
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded (if necessary), and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large pitas (preferably pocketless, Mediterranean style), cut into 3/4-inch square pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, premium quality
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons stemmed and finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon stemmed and finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons stemmed and finely chopped mint leaves
(save a few sprigs for garnish)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably from sheep’s milk (optional)
1/8 cup pitted Kalamata olives (optional)
Hearts of romaine, hand torn, rinsed and spun dry, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the diced cucumber in a strainer, sprinkle with salt, and allow to drain for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the pita pieces on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven until crisp and golden brown, about 20 minutes, shaking the pan 2 or 3 times as they toast. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Continue whisking until the dressing is emulsified, then stir in the bell pepper, tomato, green onions, parsley, cilantro, mint, pita strips, and cucumber. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and toss well to coat.
Gently toss in feta and olives, if using, and transfer to a large platter garnished with the romaine and the mint sprigs. Serve immediately.