Levant Summer Salad

Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Syria..  the Levant describes, traditionally, the Eastern Mediterranean at large, but can be used as a geographical term that denotes a large area in Western Asia formed by the lands bordering the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, roughly bounded on the north by the Taurus Mountains, on the south by the Arabian Desert, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, while on the east it extends towards the Zagros Mountains.

Roasted figs, dates, homemade labneh, toasted nuts, field greens, herbs, peas shoots and caramelized onion balsamic..


Levant Summer Salad

Levant Summer Salad


Make labneh (yoghurt cheese) by draining the whey from cultured, whole milk yoghurt.  Roll into balls, coat with za’atar or other spices and submerge in olive oil and store in a cool, dark place up to several months.

Caramelize onions in a heavy skillet.  Add balsamic, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.  Set aside

Split figs into quarters by cutting through the stem end, leaving connected at the base. Place a ball of seasoned labneh in the center and broil until the cheese is soft and the figs begin to caramelize.  Set aside.

Toast nuts (pistachios, almonds, etc.) in a dry skillet until golden brown.  Season with sea salt, break into pieces and set aside.

Split fresh dates into quarters, discarding the pits.

Rinse and dry such mixed field greens as are seasonally available.  I like to add arugula for its peppery bite and peas shoots for the added nutrition.

Lightly toss salad with cooled onion balsamic and mound on a dinner plate.  Top with broiled figs, date slices and nuts.

This post is part of the Real Food Wednesdays Blog Carnival

17 thoughts on “Levant Summer Salad

  1. have you ever – or would you ever – give a ballpark estimate on cost of and approximate time to create this edible art? i’m new to your blog, and what i’m asking is probably old news…i should tour your site for a little history lesson. so, pardon the laziness. here’s another lazy question or two: where are you? do you grow some or all of your veggies? really, this is the best food blog, by far, i’ve seen. thanks so much for doing all this work. hope you make some big ching from this. if you aren’t, you will.

    • There’s not really any significant cost involved. Perhaps $50/year for the web stuff, batteries for the camera and the occasional cookbook giveaway.

      All the food is whatever I’m already planning on eating that day. I spend maybe an hour a day (two at most) on the blog.

      This year I’m growing tomatoes, peppers, onions, okra, squash and lots of herbs. Everything else comes from the farmers’ market, local co-op or organic delivery service (I’m in Austin, Texas).

      I don’t accept any paid advertising at this time, so there is no revenue at all. I just do it as a creative expression and as a way to learn, share and stay connected with the amazing people in the real-food movement.

      Comments like yours are what makes it all worthwhile 🙂

  2. I agree with Lynn on what a wonderful food blog you have created. I would NOT be offended in any way if you included ads to your site. And WOW your photo tonight is fabulous!

    B 🙂

  3. Ren,

    Ditto to Lynn’s comments about this being the best food blog. One of the things that makes it so special is that it is one person, without a network or institution, living like real people but committed to excellence. Your work has the quality of a Barefoot Contessa but with cost and time reality. I believe you have accomplished a minor miracle in bridging the gap between excellence in taste, visual, nutrition and the principle of eating to live rather than living to eat. Many thanks.

    • Did you know that Ina Garten was a White House nuclear policy analyst before she became known as the Barefoot Contessa?

      I’m no Ina, but I do most sincerely thank you, Randal!

      • And what were you, Ren, before you became known as the best food blogger in the blog world? How’d you get from there to here?

        I just tilled up another 14′ x 36′ plot for my winter garden…then came inside, poured watermelon juice in a glass, added crushed ice and fresh lime juice, and quaffed while looking at the lovely labneh balls sitting on my kitchen counter.

        • I’m hardly that, Lynn, but thank you 🙂

          I have loved good food all my life and have been cooking almost as long. Over the past year, I’ve begun to realize that I can combine that passion with some computer skills and my desire to help people get away from the Standard American Diet (SAD for short)..

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