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Posted on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Iraqi Salad will make you enjoy eating your veggies

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

Okay, we've enjoyed our indulgence. We've eaten turkey and stuffing and yams and mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and rolls and cornbread and pie and more pie and just one more sliver of pie. We're ready to burst!

The Thanksgiving leftovers should be gone by now. Today, we return to moderation and restraint. Today, we reaquaint ourselves with vegetables.

But who said that vegetables have to be boring? Why do salads have to be bland bowls of lettuce, carrots, and croutons?

To demonstrate that plain ol' vegetables can be transformed into something amazing, today I'm offering a gorgeous and flavorful salad featured in the beautiful cookbook Ma Baseema: Middle Eastern Cooking with Chaldean Flair. As I wrote in my recent post about Cardamom-Scented Shortbread Cookies, Chaldeans [kal-DEE-uns] are Iraqi Christians. They cherish their extended families, sharing large meals with multiple generations of loved ones, and they are noted for their hospitality.

And this Iraqi salad is highly representative of Chaldean cuisine, as it features many vegetables but gives them a unique twist. The familiar cucumbers and beets and onions are taken into a new realm of flavor with a simple but vibrant dressing, as well as the addition of a sprinkle of mint.

Rather than feeling deprived today as you recover from the holiday feast, try this salad and enjoy something that's nutritious but enticing.

Iraqi Salad
(slightly adapted from Edward Korkis' "Zalata d'Iraqia" featured in Ma Baseema)

1 large cucumber, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small red onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can shoestring beets, drained
3 large scallions, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 teaspoon dried mint (available at Middle Eastern markets; substitute parsley, if need be)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
juice of half lemon
2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce red wine vinegar

Combine all salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine all dressing ingredients; mix well, then pour over salad. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then let the salad rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.

I'll be keeping Office Hours at on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 4-5 p.m. Come say "hi!" Give me Frugal Floozie Friday recommendations, tell me what you're serving for whichever upcoming holidays you're celebrating - just stop by, have a cup of coffee, hang out in the Community Space ....

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Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures in the kitchen. She was thrilled to have her post about Scottish Oatmeal Shortbread named as one of the daily "Best of the Blogs" by the prestigious Food News Journal.

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related. Her newest feature is Frugal Floozie Friday, seeking fun and food for $5 or less ... really! Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here.