Savory Syria: Recipes From Diane Sawyer's Trip

Salatit Khodar Meshakel (Mixed Fresh Vegetable Salad)

This popular Arab salad is different from conventional Western salads in that all the ingredients are finely chopped and absorb the dressing and each others' flavors better. Do not prepare it too long before serving, as the ingredients will wilt. Dress it just before putting it on the table. Ingredients can vary according to taste.


1 small romaine or cos lettuce or ½ large one

2 small cucumbers or 1 longer one

3 tomatoes

1 to 2 red Italian onions if available, or 1 large mild onion, or 1 small bunch scallions

6 radishes, thinly sliced (optional)

4-5 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill or chervil (optional)

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint or 1 tsp. dried crushed mint (optional)


3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. lemon juice or wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, crushed with salt (optional)

Salt and black pepper


Wash the lettuce, if necessary. Peel the onion or scallions. Shred the lettuce; cut the cucumbers (peeled or unpeeled, as you wish) into small dice. Dice the tomatoes (remove the seeds and juice first), and chop the onions finely, using a sharp knife, or an Italian mezzaluna chopper if you have one. Put the prepared vegetables into a salad bowl and mix lightly with the radishes and herbs.

Mix the dressing ingredients thoroughly, sprinkle over the salad, and toss well.

Serves 6.

Lentils With Spinach


1¼ pounds fresh or frozen leaf spinach

1 medium-size onion, peeled

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup dried lentils, picked over, washed, and drained

1½ to 1¾ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin seeds

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Separate the fresh spinach leaves and wash well. Do not discard the pinkish roots. Wash them as well. (They will taste very good when cooked.) Bunch up a few leaves at a time and cut them crosswise into ½-inch-wide strips. Cut each root into 2 to 3 pieces. If using frozen spinach, cook according to directions, drain and chop coarsely.

Cut the onion in half lengthwise, and then cut the halves into fine half rings.

Heat the oil in a heavy, wide, casserole-type pot over a medium flame. When hot, put in the onion and garlic. Stir and saute for 2 minutes. Now put in the lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer about 25 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Add the spinach leaves and roots, salt and cumin. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes or until spinach is tender and well-mixed into the lentils. Stir gently a few times during this period. Put in the black pepper and mix again. This dish may easily be made ahead of time and reheated.

Serves 6.

Lentils and Rice (Mujadarra)


4 medium yellow onions, peeled

3 tbs. olive oil

1 cup lentils

3½ cups cold water

1 cup long-grain rice

2 tsp. salt

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