Sunday, August 9, 2009

de Gustibus

I hope the old Romans
Had painful abdomens
I hope that the Greeks
Had toothache for weeks
I hope the Egyptians
Had chronic conniptions
I hope that the Arabs
Were bitten by scarabs
I hope that the Persians
Had gout in all versions
I hope that the Medes
Were kicked by their steeds
They started the fuss
And left it to us.
~ Arthur Guiterman

Decades ago I was introduced to the concept of salad sandwiches by a college boyfriend who was thoughtful, cultured, considerate, sensitive—and I’ve never told the spousal unit about him because he was in the Navy. Roger showed up at the university art gallery where I was clerking one day with a picnic lunch consisting of a delicious fresh salad and several pita breads, and I’ve been eating salad sandwiches ever since.

The bounty of our garden at this time of year allows me to ring in several variations on a vaguely Mediterranean theme. All of the below could be eaten in the orthodox way, with a fork and out of a bowl. They might even make good pasta salads as well although I’ve never tried them that way.

I recently started making my own pita breads, using my breadmaker to do the mixing and then smashing the balls of dough flat in my new tortilla press (yes, I broke down and bought one). I doubt I will go back to store-bought pitas anytime soon. Toasting the pitas before you add the salad makes them even better. If you decide to take these to work or school as part of your lunch, pack the salad separately and fill the pitas just before you get ready to eat. The instructions below will fill 4-6 sandwiches.

Roman Salad Sandwich

Go out in the garden and pick two cups of baby tomatoes or Romas, and two big fistfuls of basil. Put the basil in the food processor and add a clove of garlic and half a cup of basic oil/vinegar salad dressing. Pulse until it is a puree. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half if they’re baby tomatoes and into dice if they’re Romas. Beefsteak tomatoes are too juicy for this. Add about a cup of cubed mozzarella cheese and toss with the dressing.

Greek Salad Sandwich

Go out in the garden and pick a cucumber and a handful of parsley. Peel and seed the cucumber and cut it into dice. Chop the parsley. Beat a cup of plain Greek or homemade yogurt in a bowl with a clove of garlic, smashed and minced with a little salt and pepper. Toss with the cucumber and parsley. If you don’t care for raw garlic in your sandwich, smash the clove but leave it otherwise intact, and allow it to sit in the yogurt for twenty minutes or so. Remove before adding the cucumber. Opa.

Persian Salad Sandwich

Go out in the garden and pick a small bunch of green onions. Clean them and chop them up with two hardboiled eggs. Mix with several tablespoons of sour cream, a pinch of salt and a grinding of fresh pepper. This should be under rather than over seasoned. An Iranian boy who went to school with my oldest sister gave her this recipe and it became a family favorite.

1 comment:

Rochelle R. said...

Thanks for these ideas. Just today I decided I must start eating a more healthy lunch but I didn't think a salad would satisfy me. If I put it in the pita it will seem more substantial.