On Sunday we prepared that odd-couple recipe, Tomato Watermelon Salad, that I blogged about some days back, to take to a family gathering. The luncheon was being held just before my cousin Yvonne's 80th birthday party. The family was dining on sandwiches before members left for the church, where the party was about to start. I brought a bowl of the salad and thought this group of loved ones, who were featured in my new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, would be the appropriate bunch to appreciate the unusual concoction featuring tomatoes, watermelon, mint, and pistachios.
Even though garden-fresh food was part and parcel of this family's identity and history, the same quizzical looks crossed the brows of these loved ones as they do whenever I mention this salad combination to just about anyone. "Tomatoes and watermelon? Say what?" Nobody expects these two red fruit to pair up in a salad or in anything for that matter. But they did; the crowd there was complimentary after sampling this delicious oddity.
On the same page in the August 2010 Prevention magazine as the Tomato Watermelon Salad was another tomato recipe just as strange: Chopped Salad with Pita Croutons. It featured chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, parsley, and toasted pita bread. Pita bread? In a salad? You betcha--it's another winner; I fixed it as part of our dinner last night and couldn't get enough.
The crisp, oven-toasted pita provided the salad's crunch, yet the bread cubes soaked up the oil-and-vinegar dressing to enhance the flavor. Tomato and cucumber, of course, made it healthy. I envisioned going beyond the recipe and adding a little chopped avocado or perhaps a little swiss cheese sprinkled on top.
The versatile tomato strikes again--I never imagined it could be combined with such a variety of other food items, especially in salads. And by the way--happy birthday, Yvonne, on this day of your "official" 80th. Nobody makes better salads than you do!
Chopped Salad with Pita Croutons
1 whole wheat pita
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 chopped tomatoes
1 peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
5 sliced green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Toast pita slice in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes until the pita is crisp. Tear it into pieces. In a large bowl whisk the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add chopped tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, and parsley. Toss to combine; add the pita croutons, and toss again. Makes 4 servings.