Before I start this post I need to share something that happened to me yesterday: I had the most Jewish experience of my life, ever. I decided to go shopping at a new grocery store, and you know what? It’s time-consuming and stressful. You don’t the layout, the nuances of item placement, or when the good deals are. So after re-circling the store at least 4 times because where the hell is the peanut butter aisle, I came across a few carts roped together full of discounted merchandise. Nothing new right? Usually there are old boxes of random foreign children’s candy that they thought would make it in the US (keep dreamin’ Yorkie) and some strange plastic cookware. However, today was different, it was full of discounted PASSOVER stuff. I’m talkin Matzoh Ball Soup, Brownie Mix (kosher passover brownies are a thing?), Passover Crackers, Matzoh, and more, all from the tried and true Manischewitz. As I stood there, elbow deep in savings, hands moving with quick and calculated movements, jaw slacked, and eyes burning with a savings intensity normally reserved for those featured on Extreme Couponing, it hit me: This is the most Jewish Moment of My Life.
I have recently come into 3 really great cookbooks
- Susan Feniger’s Street Food: Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes
- Home Made by Yvette van Boven
- Mini Minimalist by Mark Bittman
So of course after your initial “oh my god I’m going to make everything because it’s all amazing” reality hits and you think “ok, I have 45 minutes on Tuesday night I can devote to cooking, what I can make that doesn’t involve buying 100000 new items I don’t already have in my kitchen.” So I settled on a tasty-looking salad from Susan Feniger’s book that involves Sun Chokes. I’ve never had Sun Chokes! I was actually insulted by someone making reference to Sun Chokes a few years ago…but that’s a story for another time.
I went to two, count them, two different grocery stores to gather ingredients and guess what, none of them had sun chokes. Granted, I didn’t ask anyone at the store for help, but you know what? I had just been through a store that was foreign to me (see above) and I had just spend 1.5 hours outside in the rain couching Girls on the Run (“Keep going girls! The rain never hurt anyone!” as soon as they’re out of earshot “ehhhhh I hate the rain, I wish we were inside”), so I was tired, cold, confused, and ready to go home and drink some 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust (I just procured a case on Sunday and I’m exercising every restraint I have not to drink it all). Sun Chokes sound like artichokes, so that’s a good substitute, right? Oh, chick peas would have been the better option? Well, time to tweak the recipe to fit MY needs (and MY artichoke purchase), and simply take “inspiration” from the book.
Once home, I started the only part of the salad that has any effort (I love recipes like that): garlic-butter croutons. Oooooh yeahhhh.
Want to impress anyone that comes into your house in the next 24 hours? Melt 3 Tbs of butter and 2 cloves of chopped garlic on the stove and let simmer for a good 6 minutes and wait for your house to fill with the most indulgent smell you can imagine (well, maybe 2nd to cinnamon buns, I mean, you can’t compete with that). Once it’s melted, pour it over some bite-size torn up pieces of fresh bread, pop in oven for 12 minutes, and wait for the bread to get cripsy on the outside and soft and amazing on the inside
Please, this picture doesn’t IN ANY WAY do these croutons justice. I wish you could small through your screen because wowza. Anyways, on to the other part of the salad: chop stuff up and put in bowl (or a pot because it has a lid and you’re thinking ahead for potential leftovers):
Lettuce, Parsley, Cucumbers, Kalamata Olives, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Artichoke (not Sun Chokes), and any other items you think would be fitting for a salad with a “greek” title. What next? The dressing!
Again, I took most of my inspiration from Susan Feniger’s recipe, which had a surprising ingredient: Harissa. Harissa is a Tunisian chili paste with garlic and spices (yeah, it sounds amazing), which I would never have thought to add to a salad dressing like this. I had about 1 tsp of Sambal (a chili-based sauce popular in lots of Asian cuisine) left in my fridge from who knows what, so I substituted that. Wow, I can’t even tell you what an amazing addition it was. It was not enough to add too much heat, however it was enough to add some amazing flavor complexity.
Now top dressed salad with some feta, a softish boiled egg (drop egg in boiling water for 7 minutes), and the super duper butter and garlic croutons.
Now, it seems like an insanely simple salad, and I feel like I’ve made at least 1000 different versions of this, but wow, with the egg, the croutons, and that extra little zip of the sambal in the dressing, this was hands down the best medeterranean-influanced salad I’ve ever had, homemade or at a restaurant. Seriously. Who even needs Sun Chokes? (gahhhh I’m still dying to try them!! Does anyone have a lead or Sun Choke guy? I’ll go back alley, no prob)
- 1 tsp toasted and ground Cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp Sumac
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Sambal/Chili Paste/Sriracha/Harissa
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2-3 Tbs Olive oil
- 1/2 head of Lettuce
- 1/2 C Parsley, chopped
- 1/2 Cucumber, cut into quarters length-wise and then sliced
- 1 large Tomato, roughly chopped
- 1/2 C Kalamata Olives
- 1/3 C thinly sliced Red Onion
- 1 C Artichoke heart quarters
Cut everything up. Mix
Garlic Butter Croutons
- 3 Tbs Butter
- 2 clove2 Garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 sliced-worth of Bread, torn into small bite size pieces (you know, crouton-sized)
Preheat oven to 350. Put butter, garlic, and salt together in a saucepan over low heat and let melt together and get a little foamy, about 6 minutes. Put bread pieces in a bowl and cover with butter mixture. Stir to combine and spread out on baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes (or until outside is nice a crispy, but the inside is still nice and soft). Let cool.