The other night I made a very lemony dinner. I didn’t set out to make a meal that could be served at a lemon festival, yet that was the feature in almost every dish.
I made Mark Sisson’s delicious Tender Lemon Parsley Brisket which, as he says, is a refreshing change from the wine/tomato/broth type flavoring of similar stews (though I still love, love, love my Beef with Tomatoes and Wine!!! The Swiss chard I prepared was seasoned with lemon, the beet and carrot salad was even more lemony, and this citrus dessert, ended up with a mint & lemon syrup instead of the lemongrass/vanilla syrup found in the original recipe. That’s a lot of lemon for one meal – but thankfully, no one complained.
In addition, I made a cabbage salad seasoned with za’atar and, you guessed it. Za’atar is the Arabic name for a herb from the oregano family (the hyssop mentioned in the bible) and a spice blend made from the herb. Apparently, just to confuse things, there is a different plant which also has the name hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis).
When I say za’atar, I’m referring to the spice blend. The one I have is made of hyssop, sesame seed, olive oil, and salt. It looks like this.
If you can’t get za’atar, you could use a combination of dried oregano and toasted sesame seed in the salad.
Middle Eastern Cabbage Salad
1 head of cabbage
1 tbsp. za’atar
3 tbsp. olive oil
juice of one small lemon
salt to taste
Cut the cabbage in half.
Slice both halves very thinly and place the sliced cabbage in a very large bowl.
Slice half an onion as thinly as you can. Mix with the cabbage.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix, tasting to adjust the amount of salt. The amount of juice in a lemon varies greatly, so I always prefer to start with less and taste it. You can always add more, but you can’t remove it if you’ve added too much.
Tip: : If raw cabbage causes you stomach discomfort, try lightly sprinkling the sliced cabbage with salt, mixing, and letting it sit for 1 to 4 hours weighted down with something heavy settled on a plate or in a bowl – a rock or brick or other heavy object. Salting and weighting helps release the problem-inducing component in the cabbage. The amount of time you let it sit will determine how crunchy or wilted your cabbage will be. When the time’s up, remove the weight, leave the covering plate or bowl in place, turn upside down and drain those liquids out.