Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lebanese Wilted Salad

     One Of The Tastiest Traditional Salads That There Is!
     Today's Lebanese Marinated Salad is an old recipe that my step grandfather used to make every time that he visited.  My step grandfather was raised in Syria and he lived in Lebanon before emigrating to America.  He was a great Syrian chef who managed a few fine restaurants in Southern California many years ago.
     I was a child when my family first sampled this salad.  Soon after the first taste, every time that the family dinner was announced and salad was mentioned, we all asked if the salad was going to be Lebanese Wilted Salad!  

     Today's salad is similar to Lebanese Fattoush, but Fattoush is not made with meat or cheese.  The garlic, herb and virgin olive oil flavors of this salad are captivating.  
     The meat in this salad is Lebanon Baloney.  Lebanon Baloney is an all beef, large, dark sausage salami that is cured, fermented and smoked.  Lebanon Baloney has a softer texture than hard Genoa Salami.  
     Some food historians say that Lebanon Baloney originated in the American Pennsylvania Dutch country.  The truth is, sausages and salami like Lebanon Baloney have been made in the entire Mediterranean region long before America came to be.  The flavor of Lebanon Baloney is slightly tangy and very rich.  My Syrian Lebanese step grandfather once said that Lebanon Baloney is as close to the beef sausages that are made in Lebanon as it gets.

     The cheese in today's salad is provolone.  Fresh Lebanese cheese, like Galilee Village Cheese, is what my Syrian Lebanese step grandfather said was best for this salad.  He said that provolone or mozzarella can be substituted, because they are fresh cheese too.
     It has been many years since I have made this marinated salad, so this recipe has been long over due.  This is a very tasty salad that can be served as a lunch entrée or a casual mezze.
     Lebanese Wilted Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!
    Red wine vinegar became part of the recipe when my step grandfather lived in California.  Red wine vinegar is a fermented product.  No fermented products are allowed in some religious diets in the Middle East, so red wine vinegar is an optional ingredient.
     Step 1:  Cut 1 small eggplant lengthwise into 3 long slices that are about 3/16" thick.  (Leave the skin on the eggplant.  Any extra eggplant can be saved for other recipes.)
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 or 4 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Pan fry the eggplant slices, till they are tender and golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Place the cooked eggplant slices on a cutting board.
     Slice the eggplant into large bite size pieces and set them aside.
     Step 4:  Place 3 very thin sliced garlic cloves in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  (Add 1 extra teaspoon of lemon juice, if no red wine vinegar is used!)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.  (Optional!)
     Add 4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 2 pinches of sumac berry spice.  (Sumac spice is available at Mediterranean markets.)
     Add 1 pinch of chopped green florence fennel leaves.  (anise bulb)
     Add 1 pinch of ground fennel seed.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red chile pepper.
     Stir the marinade.
     Step 5:  Add the cooked eggplant pieces.
     Add 6 to 8 green olives.
     Add 6 to 8 ripe black olives.
     Add 8 to 10 Arabic Green Scratched Olives or Kalamata Olives.
     Add 1/2 of a roasted pimiento or roasted red bell pepper that is thin sliced.
     Add 4 or 5 pepperoncini.
     Step 6:  Trim the casing or skin off of a 1/4" thick slice of Lebanon Baloney.  (About 3 ounces will be needed.)
     Cut the Lebanon Baloney into 4"x1/4"x1/4" strips (batonette).  
     Add the Lebanon Baloney to the salad.
     Step 7:  Cut a 1/4" thick slice of provolone cheese that weighs about 3 ounces.
     Cut the provolone cheese into 4"x1/4"x1/4" strips and add them to the salad.
     Step 8:  Add 1/4 cup of each of these vegetables:
     - green bell pepper strips
     - julienne sliced onion
     - thin sliced anise bulb (florence fennel)
     Step 9:  Add 6 thin tomato wedges.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of mixed baby lettuce leaves or chopped romaine.
     Step 10:  Toss the salad ingredients together.
     Chill the salad in a refigerator and leave it uncovered.  Allow the salad ingredients to marinate and wilt for at least 1 hour.  Toss the salad occasionally as it marinates.
     Step 11:  The salad is ready when the lettuce is slightly wilted and the vegetables still have some crispy bite to them.  
     Toss the salad one last time before serving.
     Mound the salad on a plate.
     Be sure to expose some of the olives, Lebanon Baloney and Provolone Cheese on the surface of the salad.
     Set a pepperoncini on top of the salad as a garnish.  
     Lebanese Wilted Salad is hard to stop eating after the first bite.  The flavor is delicious!  

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