Iraq is our Nation of the Month and we’ve began exploring the culinary offerings and traditions from the cradle of civilisation. Here is a salad with very fresh flavours that is a nice addition to the table heading into the Spring and Summer months, especially.
Searching for traditional dishes and new recipes to try out in honour of Iraq I have discovered a couple gems; not of specific recipes, but rather entire blogs. I love it when “Nation of the Month” leads me to discover other blogs that I might never have come across otherwise. Check out these two Iraqi food bloggers:
Sham is an Instagram sensation. He shares his recipes through Instagram and his YouTube Channel and has a great mix of vegan recipes spanning Iraqi, Mediterranean and American cuisines.
I choose life over death. I choose colours. I choose vegan because it’s better for the environment, reduces animals suffering and healthier for human beings. I choose my cause and my story to be compassionate. I choose the right choice because I can.Iraqi Vegan Chef Sham Hasan @theherbivorist
I really admire the spirit behind Sara’s blog Add a Little Lemon. She writes “There is something to be said for the way food connects us, guides us, moves us.” Visiting her blog I think you can really see that it connects us in many ways. From very personal ways, like how it connects Sara to her heritage, to very global ways like how it has the potential to connect us all.
Last night we feasted on Sara’s recipe for Iraqi Dolmas… Now, we have enjoyed the occasional Dolma, especially during our travels through Greece and Turkey where they seem to taste so much better than the ones you can find here. But the Iraqi method brings the dish to a whole new level. Instead of simple rice-stuffed vine leaves, in Iraq the filling is made from and stuffed into a whole assortment of vegetables and thoughtfully stacked into a heavy deep dish where the different levels of heat will cook each vegetable to it’s ideal doneness, from the gently caramelised onions at the base to the tender steamed leaves at the top of the pot. Genius. (And very tasty, too!
Just Beet It…
…beet it, beet it, beet it.
Back to the light and fresh flavours of this delightfully simple salad. Don’t be intimidated by the prep time on this one, aside from the roasting of the beetroot this recipe only takes a few minutes hands-on to pull together. There are of course faster ways we could cook the beetroot, by dicing it first and then boiling, steaming, or roasting. And you’re more than welcome to substitute your preferred cooking method, or grate it uncooked if you’re of the raw food persuasion, or even use dare-I-say-it ::gasp:: precooked beetroot (if you use that route the whole salad will only take about 2 minutes) The benefit of whole roasting in skin is that it develops the most flavour, and the outer skin easily peels off the beetroot once they’re cooked, no peeler required.
Iraqi Beetroot Salad
- 4 Small Beetroot
- 3 Medium Tomatoes
- 1 Cucumber
- 20g Flat Leaf Parsley
- 2 teaspoons Distilled Vinegar
- Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1 teaspoon Sumac
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Roast the Beetroot whole in skin: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Wash the Beetroot and wrap them in foil. Cook for about 40 minutes (or until tinder).
- Meanwhile, prep the rest of your ingredients. Deseed the Tomatoes and Cucumbers. Dice them into small pieces. Wash the parsley, remove stems, and chop. Add the Lemon Zest and Juice, Sumac, Salt, and Pepper.
- When the Beetroot is cooked, once they are cool enough to handle, rub off the outer skin and dice to the same size as the Tomatoes and Cucumbers.
- Mix, and serve!
Add some finely chopped fresh mint to give the salad even more refreshing oumph. Or, add some chickpeas for a protein boost!
Any thoughts what Iraqi dish we should try next?