Home » Recipes » Middle Eastern Recipes » Salad, Grains & Couscous – Part 2

Salad, Grains & Couscous – Part 2


Fig, Goat Cheese & Watercress Salad

This light salad makes an elegant appetizer, light lunch, or dinner. It also works well as a side dish for Lamb Kofte with Yogurt & Mint Dip, Whole Spice-Crusted Red Snapper, or Ras el Hanout, Garlic & Thyme Roasted Leg of Lamb.

PREP : 10 minutes

  • 6 figs, halved lengthwise
  • ¾ bunch of watercress
  • 2¼ ounces soft goat cheese
  • ⅓ cup blanched almonds, toasted
  • Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  1. For the dressing, whisk together the mint, lemon juice, honey, and oil in a small bowl and season with the salt and pepper.
  2. Put the figs into a small bowl, drizzle with a tablespoon of the dressing, and mix gently.
  3. Pile the watercress onto a large serving plate. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss. Sprinkle the figs, goat cheese, and almonds over the watercress. Serve immediately.

Cook’s tip : You can substitute other young salad greens, such as spinach, arugula, or baby Swiss chard, for the watercress in this salad, or use a mixture, if you prefer.



Sweet tomatoes, crisp salty pita chips, crunchy radish and cucumber, and a citrus dressing come together in this traditional Levantine salad. Use the best fresh tomatoes that you can find, such as heirloom varieties.

PREP : 15 minutes
COOK : 12 minutes
SERVES : 6–8

  • 1½ pounds mixed tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cucumber
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large pinches of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large whole wheat pita breads, cut or torn into triangles
  • 4½ cups mixed salad greens
  • Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sumac spice
  1. Mix together the tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, scallions, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large, shallow salad bowl, using your hands.
  2. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the pita breads for 4–6 minutes, or until crisp and golden, turning halfway through. Transfer to the prepared plate and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Repeat until you have fried all the pitas.
  3. For the dressing, put all the ingredients into a screw-top jar, screw on the lid, and shake well.
  4. Add the salad greens and pita chips to the salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss. Serve immediately.

Cook’s tip : If you’re preparing this salad in advance, keep the dressing, leaves, tomato mixture, and pita chips separate, and combine just before serving.


Freekeh, Fava Bean & Pea Salad with Dill & Pomegranate

This light, fresh salad is perfect for late spring or summer lunches. Dill is popular throughout the Middle East, particularly in Iran and Turkey, where it is often paired with fava beans in a variety of dishes. If serving this salad on its own, it’s great sprinkled with crumbled feta, or it’s a wonderful accompaniment to Roasted Salmon with Spices, Pomegranate & Cilantro.

PREP : 15 minutes
COOK : 50 minutes

  • 1 cup whole-grain freekeh
  • 2½ cups water
  • ⅔ cup peas
  • ⅔ cup shelled fava beans
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus extra squeeze of juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
    ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds only
  1. Rinse the freekeh in several changes of cold water. Put it into a saucepan, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45–50 minutes, or until cooked but with some bite. Drain well.
  2. Blanch the peas and fava beans in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain, refresh in cold water, and drain again. Add them to the freekeh.
  3. Mix the scallions, dill, mint, and lemon zest into the salad. Stir in the oil and lemon juice and season with the salt and pepper, adding extra lemon juice, if you desire.
  4. Serve the salad warm, sprinkled with the feta, if using, and pomegranate seeds.

Cook’s tip : Freekeh is young, green wheat that has been harvested early and then toasted and cracked. It has been cooked in the Middle East since ancient times.


Quinoa Salad with Fennel & Orange

Fennel is delicious with orange. This salad works well with Whole Spice-Crusted Red Snapper.

PREP : 20 minutes
COOK : 12 minutes

  • 3¾ cups hot vegetable broth
  • 1⅓ cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced using a mandoline slicer, green feathery tops reserved and torn into small pieces
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Dressing
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of pepper
  1. Pour the broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10–12 minutes, or until the germs separate from the seeds. Drain into a strainer, then transfer the quinoa to a salad bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Grate the zest from two of the oranges and put it into a screw-top jar. Cut any remaining peel and the pith away from all three oranges, using a small serrated knife, and discard. Hold each orange above a bowl and cut between the membranes to release the sections. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into the jar.
  3. Add the orange sections, fennel slices, scallions, and parsley to the quinoa.
  4. For the dressing, add the lemon juice and oil to the screw-top jar and season with the pepper. Screw on the lid and shake well.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss. Garnish with the fennel tops and serve immediately.

Cook’s tip : It is much easier to thinly slice using a mandoline slicer, but a small, very sharp knife will also do the job.


Red Cabbage & Baby Leaf Salad

Broiling eggplants until blackened gives the dressing for this salad a wonderfully smoky flavor. Alternatively, they can be barbecued or roasted in a hot oven.

PREP : 30 minutes
COOK : 20 minutes

  • 2 carrots, shredded into ribbons using a swivel-blade vegetable peeler
  • 350 g/12 oz red cabbage, shredded
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • 4½ cups baby leaf greens (a mixture of red-stemmed and red-leafed lettuce and mache)
  • juice of 1 orange
  • pinch of pepper
  • Dressing
  • 3 eggplants
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons hemp oil
  • pinch of pepper
  1. For the dressing, preheat the broiler to high and remove the grill rack. Prick both ends of each eggplant, using a fork, put them in the grill pan, and broil 2 inches away from the heat source for 15–20 minutes, or until blackened, turning several times. Let cool.
  2. Arrange the carrots on a serving plate, top with the cabbage, then sprinkle with the raisins and baby greens. Drizzle with the orange juice and season with the pepper.
  3. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop the soft flesh away from the blackened skins and onto a cutting board, using a large spoon. Discard the skin. Finely chop the flesh, then put it into a bowl. Add the garlic, tahini, and hemp oil, season with the pepper, and mix. Spoon into a serving bowl and nestle in the center of the salad to serve.

Cook’s tip : When broiling eggplants, it is essential to cook them until they are black all over and the flesh is soft.

Authentic dishes from the Middle East

Rukmini Lyer