Middle Eastern cuisine

A Mid-East Redo of the Potato Salad

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Tired of the same old potato salad? Then try something new, like skipping the usual creamy dressing (and all that fat!) and dressing up the potatoes with Middle Eastern flavors.

Then you'll have a salad that's all bright greenery, light and fresh. Borrowing from two popular middle Eastern salads, fattoush and tabbouleh, this recipe incorporates generous handfuls of parsley and mint along with colorful vegetables. But instead of the fried pita used in fattoush and the bulgur wheat basic to tabbouleh, it is based on potatoes.

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And why not? Especially if the potatoes are small, tender, red, white and blue potatoes that come combined in a bag from Melissa's Produce.

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The potato bag gives handy cooking instructions as well as a salad recipe (not this one, which I made up).

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I left the potatoes unpeeled in order to heighten the contrast and added more color with roasted red bell pepper, baby heirloom tomatoes, green onions and a mini cucumber.

The dressing incorporates olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, za'atar, harissa and cumin, and I added honey to offset the tanginess. You can substitute any hot pepper for harissa or leave it out. And you can omit the za'atar, although it's become trendy enough to be widely available.

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In the photo at the top, I've dished up the salad on a red white and blue plate to match the colors of the potatoes and to honor the Fourth of July, which is the perfect time to serve it. Here, I've transferred it to a bowl for easy serving at the table. 

MID-EAST POTATO SALAD

1 1/4 pounds red, white and blue potato medley
Salt
1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in halves
1 mini cucumber, unpeeled, diced, about 1/2 cup
5 green onions, including some of the tops, finely sliced
1 sweet red (bell) pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
1/2 cup (packed) Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (packed) mint leaves, chopped
Mid-East Dressing

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water 12 to 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and cool. When the potatoes are at room temperature, cut them in halves or thirds, depending on size. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, red pepper, parsley and mint. Add 1/2 cup of the Mid-East Dressing, or more to taste, and toss the salad carefully. Refrigerate any remaining dressing. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Makes 4 generous servings. 

MID-EAST DRESSING

1/2 cup mild olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon za'atar, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon harissa paste, Aleppo pepper or other spicy pepper, optional

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, honey, za'atar, salt, cumin and harissa in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake well before using. Makes about 3/4 cup. 


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