Traditional mezze appetizers tend to based on vegetables. In our hot, dry climate, it makes sense to put many small dishes of piquant salads on the table at the start of a meal. You can count on them to waken a languishing appetite, especially if you take a shot of ice-cold arak, or to satisfy the first hunger pangs while waiting for the main dish.
Olive oil and lemon juice are the basic dressing ingredients for almost all mezze, like our cold okrah salad. And what would choumous be without them to give depth and zest? In the same way, a Middle-Eastern potato salad is treated to a bath of herbs and spices in olive oil and lemon juice, making a light, tangy appetizer that won’t spoil your appetite. With red potatoes as lovely as they are at this season, it’s a good time to make one.
Middle-Eastern Potato Salad
serves 4 as a side dish; 8 as an appetizer
4 medium red potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
More salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 – 1 tablespoon sugar, to taste
1 large stalk celery, diced
1/2 medium onion or 1 very small one, diced
1 large handful rinsed cilantro leaves, chopped (may use parsley)
1/2 carrot or 1/2 bell pepper, any color, diced
Chop the potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Keep them as uniform as possible.
Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add salt, reduce heat to medium and cover.
Depending on the size of the potato chunks, cook for 10-15 minutes. Start tasting however at about 8 minutes. When the potatoes yield to the tooth but are still firm, drain thoroughly.
Allow to cool slightly in a large bowl. Do not stir the potatoes yet. While they’re still warm, add the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar and more salt to taste. Grind in some black pepper.
Add the celery, onion and cilantro leaves. With a vegetable peeler, take thin strips out of the carrot. Just peel it into the bowl. Add bell pepper if using. Now stir, gently.
Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Allow to cool down entirely and store in the refrigerator, covered.
More appetizing appetizers on Green Prophet:
Photo of potato salad by Miriam Kresh.