Armenian Summer Salad
Source: Kate Leahy, John Lee, and Ara Zada, Lavash
This recipe is a hybrid from our book and what we learned by talking with Amber Balakian from Balakian Farms (watch the video). Tomatoes and cucumbers are easy to find year-round in Armenia, where they’re often eaten plain, simply sliced up and eaten like pieces of fruit. The Balakians use Armenian cucumbers in their version of the salad, a variety that actually comes from the melon family. It isn’t as juicy as other cucumbers, so it balances out the ripe heirloom tomatoes. Other keys when making this salad: use fresh herbs (cilantro and dill or parsley and opal basil are common combinations), a little onion, and a fresh green pepper. Armenians in California dress their version with a little vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil, but Armenians in Armenia go lighter on the acidity and use sunflower oil. For an extra treat, have bread alongside to soak up the juices left in the salad bowl.
Serves 4 to 6
4 to 5 large tomatoes, cut into chunks (about 4 cups)
1 large Armenian cucumber or 4 Persian cucumbers, skin-on, cut into chunks roughly the same size as the tomatoes (about 4 cups)
¼ red or yellow onion, thinly sliced (if it is very strong, rinse the onion with water)
1 Anaheim pepper or other mild fresh pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A pinch of red pepper flakes or ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, Anaheim pepper, cilantro, and dill. Drizzle the vinegar and oil over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together thoroughly. Taste, adding more salt, pepper, or vinegar if needed. The salad keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator
Photo by Kate Leahy.