Citrusy Salad & Manakiseh Flatbread

At the beginning of this year I made it my goal to eat more salad. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out why by yourself… because I’m not really a salad person. I’ve mentioned on here before that I like eating salad when I go out but hardly ever make it at home. Although I love the prepping part – it’s almost ritual-like after a day at work – once the chopping is done, I don’t feel like having salad all of a sudden.

Some of it was due to my lack of imagination with regards to dressings, but ever since I discovered Wendy’s salad dressing at Chez Chloe, I stuck that to my refrigerator and it’s become my go-to-dressing, so dressing was no longer a problem.

I also started to prepare a few days’ worth of salad ingredients ahead from day one because I knew there would be days when I’d just be too lazy after work to do all the prepping. After week one I became bored already with the staples of iceberg, radicchio, carrots, and cucumber that were awaiting me on opening the fridge, so I started adding different things like kidney beans and corn, pan-fried turkey, grilled vegetables, or ham and eggs.

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And this past week I was thinking that although salad has made a new friend in me and I actually ate it because I liked it and not just for the sake of eating salad, I still craved more variety. What could I add? I absolutely despise rocket (arugula) leaves – they smell like the insides of a fake handbag, so don’t go suggesting that to me! I switched to homemade ranch dressing a few days a week but quickly got bored with that as well.

So one night last week I was trying to figure out what to make from the leftover pomegranate I still had lying around, and there I went again – having a vision. A vision of a salad. About ten things stormed into my mind at once, so I thought I’d better write them down and streamline everything.

This is what my list looked like after that process: iceberg (still my favourite, can’t do without) cut up more finely – maybe some radicchio – grated cucumbers – tomatoes – possibly black olives – finely cut onions – pomegranate seeds – grilled halloumi cheese. For the dressing I had this in mind: lime juice – grapefruit juice – mild olive oil – mint – garlic – chilli – maybe a dash of sugar.

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I also wanted to try the manakiseh – a type of Arabic flatbread – recipe I got from an Arabic Vegetarian Cooking course I took a couple of years ago. From France I brought back some Lebanese seasoning and some Tabouleh seasoning that I wanted to either use on the bread or in the salad dressing.

How did it turn out? I LOVE my new salad dressing, find it absolutely fantastic. It won’t go with all types of salads, but for a somewhat more “exotic” mix it’s just perfect.

Before you start on the salad, prepare the dough for the manakiseh as it has to prove for an hour. The salad and dressing ingredients are really a “mix according to your preference” thing, hence no detailed amounts of ingredients. I also considered adding some finely chopped red chilli to the dressing but I really liked it the way it was. You can either grill the halloumi cheese plain, or marinate it in olive oil with a spice of your choice; I used the same Lebanese spice mix I used for the flatbread.

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Citrusy Salad & Manakiseh Flatbread

This is the order in which I worked:
1. Make the dough for flatbread.
2. While the dough is proving, make the salad dressing first, then cut and prepare salad ingredients.
3. Shortly before end of flatbread proving time, cut and marinate halloumi cheese.
4. About 5 minutes before end of bread baking time, fry the halloumi.

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Manakiseh

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Print

250 g flour
100 ml milk
10 g fresh yeast [or ¼ of a German 42g cube of yeast]
sugar
salt
olive oil
Za’atar / Lebanese spice mix

Dissolve the yeast in 50 ml lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar and let sit for a few minutes.

Mix flour with 3 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt, then add the dissolved yeast. Knead the dough well, then add some milk until the dough is smooth. [I added about ¾ of the milk. If you add too much the dough will just get sticky.]

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove for about 1 hour.

For the topping, mix 6 tbsp of spice mix with 6 tbsp olive oil.

Form little balls from the dough, then roll each one out very flat and about 5 cm in diameter). Place each flatbread on a baking tray and spread with the spice & olive oil mix. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes at 250°C/475°F. [My dough made 16 little balls because I made smaller ones.]

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Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Print

iceberg
cucumber
cocktail tomatoes
lamb’s lettuce
cos
pomegranate seeds
halloumi cheese, grilled
Lebanese spice mix

With a sharp knife, shred rather than cut the iceberg and the cos. Grate the cucumber with the grating attachment of a mandolin. Quarter the cocktail tomatoes, and wash the lamb’s lettuce very well, then dry.

Remove seeds from pomegranate and set aside.

Cut the halloumi in slices and use some of the Lebanese spice/olive oil mix to brush the cheese with on both sides. Set aside until the flatbread is almost done baking, then fry with a couple of brushes of olive oil to the pan.

Assemble all salad ingredients on a platter or shallow dish.

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Dressing

juice of ¼ grapefruit
zest + juice of 1 lime
1 tsp raw cane sugar
handful of fresh mint leaves, finely cut
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine all the dressing ingredients, stir well, and let sit until salad is ready for serving. Spoon dressing over salad, serving surplus separately.

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