While I was doing research for my second cookbook (title: The Pharaoh's Feast in the U.S.; and Feasting with the Ancestors in the UK), I came across some fascinating facts about ancient cooking. For instance, the ancient Romans had a dish that consisted of stuffed door mice That's right, as in a mouse. The Babylonians loved wild pigeons. And the Egyptians of the dynastic era enjoyed figs, dates, and pomegranates, not only as desserts but throughout the meal. More enticing, they loved vegetables; especially strong tasting vegetables such as garlic and onions. These, along with other vegetables, were often served as a salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. Thus, I came up with a simple green salad using vegetables ancient Egyptians may have enjoyed.
Let me add, my green salad for the ages is perfect as a summer dish for these hot, humid days. Add a crusty loaf of bread and a cold beer (the ancient Egyptians loved beer), and you have it made.
(From Dynastic Egypt)
1 small bunch celery (about 3/4 pound)*
3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into half-moons
2 medium-sized cucumbers, washed, scrubbed, and slice
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin is best)
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Wash celery under cold running water. Remove the root ends and leafy tops and cut the ribs into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a bowl or on a platter.
2. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion. Toss to mix.
3. In a cup, combine the vinegar and olive oil. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir and pour on the salad. Sprinkle with cumin and serve.
Yield: 5 to 5 servings.
*Green beans can be substituted for the celery. In this case, take 1/2 pound of green beans, trimmed and broken into bite-sized pieces, and cook or steam until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse in cold water, mix with other ingredients, and add the dressing.
Photo: Courtesy of FineDiningLOVERS