Bread is a very special thing to me, a food I would never waste and I’m sure this comes from my upbringing. Whether it’s served fresh in a basket or crisp and tossed into a simple salad like a crouton, it’s the one food I could never live without. So the fattoush salad, perhaps the most famous of all Arabic salads, brings together bread and green freshness in a way that is always a delight.
Lebanese sausages are cured, beef sausages that are heavily spiced, generally with cumin and sumac; they can also be fairly hot. Although you can eat them as they are, as you would chorizo, they are quite hard and are best lightly cooked so that the fat releases its delicious flavours and the sausages soften. If you can’t get hold of these ones, choose any spicy cured beef sausage, seasoned with chilli, instead.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of meatballs (kofte), not simply in Lebanon, but across the whole of the Middle East, as well as parts of Asia. Simple, hearty and incredibly adaptable on the flavour front, it’s not hard to see why meatballs are so universally loved.
The secret to getting a great flavour and texture in this simple mixture of cooked puréed aubergine, sesame paste and strained yoghurt relies on allowing moisture to evaporate and condense the aubergine’s flesh. But when you get it right you get an outrageously complex dish that defies easy explanation. Friends taste it and ask me, ‘how do you get that subtle charred flavour?’ and muse over achieving the delicate texture.
This was my play on an Italian tricolore salad, using fried halloumi cheese stacked with fresh tomato and dotted with tender black olives and strewn with shredded mint. Rich, crisp, bright and fresh. This is so easy to make but with a little olive oil poured over it becomes this extraordinary salad. High in calories? A little, but ever so good.