This is a simple recipe, for what could be the most perfect salad of my childhood. Salata Fallahiyyeh is a staple on every breakfast table in Palestine. You can serve it with breakfast dishes like Manae’sh, Ijjeh (egg fritters), Falafel, Zaatar o Zait (fool), or you can use it to garnish labaneh and spruce it up, or fava beans. I have even served the traditional version as an appetizer with tortilla chips and yogurt. The traditional version is made with finely chopped tomatoes, onions (red, white or green, depending on what is available) and a dressing of lemon, olive oil and salt.
I have seen modern versions of it were tomatoes are sliced in larger pieces with slices of red onions. And what I share with you here, errs on the modern side.
This may seem like a simple and easy recipe, which for all technical reasons it is. However, I think it is far more significant than just a simple salad. Tomatoes are a life line crop in Palestine. In the winter, with the cold weather, and restrictions imposed on Gaza transporting produce to the West Bank, tomatoes can become expensive ( a conversation I am going to delve into in a later piece).
Palestinian baladi tomatoes taste earthy. When sliced open, the smell of acidity and sweetness travel through your nostrils and awaken your taste buds. You can almost smell the nitrogen rich earth they were grown in.
This salad has a sister, which is also a staple on the Palestinian table, where vegetables, usually freshly picked from the land, like green onions, cucumbers, bell peppers and lettuce accompany the tomatoes. A simple chopped salad dressed with freshly harvested, Palestinian olive oil known for its sharp after taste, and fresh lemon juice and salt.
Sometimes the greatest gastronomical pleasures are found in the simplest of things.
Two to three large tomatoes sliced
1 medium red onion (2 small ones)
One to two lemons juiced (depending on the time of the year, and the amount of juice the lemons have)
Sea Salt to Taste
2-3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1 square of Arabic Cheese
To Make the Salad:
- Slice the tomato into two longitudinal halves and then slice each piece into half circles.
- Layer into your salad bowl
- Slice the onions into thin needles and layer on top of the tomatoes
- Sprinkle the salad with sea salt, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Cut the white cheese into thin rectangles.
- Heat a skillet until sizzling hot, and place the cheese on it until it is golden brown on both side. Place on top of your salad.
- Serve your salad with Ijjeh, or Hummus, or on its own!