Let's talk about casual vs. formal dining, shall we. The classic, more formal scenario is that everyone sits down at the table and is served pre-portioned food, usually beginning with a salad. Nothing really wrong with that except that I'm a more casual person and Middle Eastern cuisine is generally a relaxed affair.
The alternative is family style dining where big bowls of food are placed on the table and everybody passes them around and takes what they like and how much they like. Much less stressful, I think, because you can choose only those things you like to eat without having to worry about disguising the fact that you didn't eat the olives. By the way, olives would be totally appropriate on this salad but I don't like them so they're not there. Feel free to serve a dish of them on the side so that the olive haters can ignore them in peace.
Family style doesn't have to mean there's no elegance, however. I plated this delicious Middle Eastern salad with an eye toward a gorgeous bounty of vegetables with lots of different flavors and colors. Enjoy!
2 Cups arugula or baby spinach leaves
- 1 lb. Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
- 2 Cups chickpeas (canned is fine, rinsed and drained)
- 1 English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb. Radishes, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 1 Cup hummus (homemade or store bought)
- 4 Pita bread rounds, warmed and cut in half
- 1/2 Teaspoon ground sumac
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 Cup tahini dressing
Rinse and dry the arugula or spinach and place on a large serving plate or board. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on size. Leave some just sliced in half on the side for dipping into the hummus. Arrange the remaining tomato slices on top of the greens.
Rinse and dry the chickpeas and spread them out over the greens. Tip: toss them in a little pinch of the sumac first for a pleasant burst of flavor.
Wash and thinly slice the cucumber. If you're using an English (seedless) cucumber, there's no need to peel or seed. Arrange the slices on the salad but leave a few in a pile on the side for dipping into hummus.
Sprinkle the sumac over the salad and season with salt and pepper.
Add the hummus to a bowl on the side of the platter along with the warmed pita rounds. Drizzle the salad with some of the tahini dressing but leave the rest in a bowl on the side for people to add more if they like.