I have mentioned before that I like reading cookbooks. I used to preview the cookbook before deciding if I would like to invest the money to buy it. However, I spend some time now reading reviews and making the decision as not all cookbooks are available from the library to read before deciding to buy or not. Certain authors or blogs I trust pretty explicitly. Sometimes I buy a cookbook, read some or all of it and never cook from it, but still they are valuable to me. I think some people think I am crazy to own so many cookbooks, but at times the conversation comes to a recipe and I go get the book that I am talking about as I nearly always know which cookbook something came from. Given that I have about 200 hundred cookbooks, I think that some people are amazed that I can do this; however, some recipes are just stuck in my brain and they get filed until further need of them. All this leads back to the cookbook that I am dedicating to March. It has been a weird winter with a bunch of warm days in January and now again a few days of warmer weather, so now I am craving all the summer produce. This month's task is to get to know Plenty More by Ottolenghi. I have cooked from his other cookbooks, but this one I think will be quite a favorite by the time we start getting all the wonderful fresh summer foods.
Dakos (Tomato and Cracker Salad) (Serves 4)
This actually reminds me of the bread salads that Italian cookbooks offer, but it is a recipe based a Greek recipe. I can image eating this in Greece as it has many of the components of a Greek salad (which does not have lettuce) while I spent a week on a smaller Greek Island. This can only be better in summer, but it satisfied my craving for a salad just before Spring.
1 pound cherry tomatoes (find the sweetest ones you can), cut into halves
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used one with pomegranate in it)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3.5-5 oz. rye crispbread, broken into about 1 inch pieces or smaller
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese(the closest I have been able to find to Greek feta is the Whole Foods 360 brand)
5-10 black olives (I used Kalamata olives), pitted and roughly cut
4 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Put the tomatoes, red onion, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a good grind of black pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon) in a large bowl, mix lightly and set aside. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes so all the flavors and get mixed together.
Spread out crackers in the bottom of a salad bowl (divide into 4 bowls). Spoon the tomato mixture equally on top of each set of crackers. Sprinkle on feta cheese, olives, parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. (Add additional salt or pepper if desired.)