This Levantine chopped salad looks forward to summer. It’s essential to get the best ingredients – tomatoes at this time of year are particularly problematic, so I recommend getting the smallest, ripest ones you can find on the vine. If even those are mealy or tasteless, try getting a lot of grape tomatoes – they tend to have a fair amount of concentrated sour-sweetness at any time of year. It’s also important to try to get Lebanese-style mini-cucumbers. Full-size supermarket cucumbers are watery and tasteless.
Adapted from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem.
1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt and 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs whole milk
3 stale pitas, torn into bite-size chunks
Plum, cherry or grape tomatoes to equal 3 large tomatoes in season, cut into 2/3-inch dice
3 large radishes, thinly sliced
3 Lebanese or mini-cucumbers, peeled and cut into 2/3-inch dice
2 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
2 tbs flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tbs fresh mint leaves
1 tbs dried mint
2 cloves of garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle or on the chopping board
3 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbs white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs ground sumac, or more, to garnish
Whisk the yogurt and whole milk together in a bowl and leave in a cool place or in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, or better yet, overnight, so that bubbles form on the surface. It’s a less sour version of a sort of homemade buttermilk.
Prepare all the ingredients about half an hour prior to serving.
Place the pita bread chunks in a bowl and cover with the buttermilk. Pile all the other ingredients on top except the sumac and mix well. Allow to sit for 10 minutes so that all the flavors combine.
Serve into bowls, drizzle extra olive oil on top, and sprinkle generously with ground sumac.