Dallas’ Lebanese Chef Joumana Accad Wants You to Make the Most of the Farmers Market

Dallas-based Lebanese chef Joumana Accad creates delicious spring recipes using locally grown seasonal foods. When farmer’s markets across the nation open and fresh, natural foods are plentiful Accad’s makes the most of fresh herbs, roasted spring vegetables, and grilled meats. In her blog, TasteofBeirut.com, Accad touts the benefits of Mediterranean cooking using Dallas’ fresh, local produce.

“Shopping at local farmers’ markets supports your local growers and allows you to pick the freshest food right from the farm,” says Accad. “Fresh food tastes amazing and retains all of its vitamin and minerals. And even better, fresh vegetables need the lightest preparation to bring out their natural sweetness.”

Accad has created a delightful spring menu using all things found at Dallas Farmers Market. So grab a glass of wine, set a table outside, and enjoy a Mediterranean holiday right from your kitchen.

jump for her farmers market recipes…

Fish Shawarma Sandwich
(Makes 4 servings)

”With this recipe I took a different take on the ubiquitous Lebanese dish that is usually a sandwich-like wrap traditionally made with shaved lamb, chicken, or beef cooked on a spit. A Mediterranean staple, nearly every neighborhood in Lebanon has at least one shawarma stand that churns out thousands of juicy sandwiches to hungry passers-by.   I decided to use fresh fish that is grilled quickly (or pan-fried) after marinating in olive oil and spices. It is served in a warm pita slathered with a special tarator (or tahini) sauce, tomato and avocado slices and some pickles and fresh herbs.

The flavor in this recipe is reminiscent of a famous spiced fish dish, samkeh harra that originated in Tripoli, the second largest coastal town in Lebanon. Samkeh harra is a glorious buffet-style dish served at banquets and large celebrations. It is composed of a large five-pound sea bass encased in a tahini sauce and an herb stuffing with garlic and chili peppers.

INGREDIENTS:
•             4 fish fillets of your choice
•             1/2 cup of tahini (4 ounces, 125 ml)
•             1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice (4 ounces, 125 ml)
•             3 (or more, to taste) cloves of garlic
•             1/2 cup of walnuts, crushed
•             1 bunch of cilantro or dill or flat-parsley
•             4 medium tomatoes
•             1 large avocado
•             Olive oil, as needed
•             Spices: 2 teaspoons of sumac, 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, pinch of cinnamon and salt, a dash of chili flakes

METHOD:
1.            Mix all the spices and sprinkle on the fish fillets, both front and back. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and set the fillets aside. Crush the garlic with a dash of salt in a mortar until pasty. Transfer to a bowl, add the tahini and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and stir, add up to 1/2 cup of water and stir constantly until thetarator is smooth. Keep in mind you want it fairly thick and not too watery, so always add the water gradually, checking the texture and taste and adjust if needed.
2.            Grill the fish or pan-fry in some olive oil until the fish is done. While the fish is cooking, slice the tomatoes, avocados and onions, if using. Open each pita, slather with tarator, sprinkle some crushed walnuts, extra herbs, place the fish in the bread, add the tomato slices and avocado slices and serve.

NOTE: The tarator is a sauce that you can adjust according to your taste; more garlic or lemon juice? Sure! anything goes!

The Monk’s Salad (Al-Raheb)
(Makes 4 generous servings or 6 small servings

“This salad isnamed for a Lebanese monk after the bounty of foods he found available in the mountains in which he lived and in the garden he created for his ascetic lifestyle.Bursting with crispy vegetables and mellowed by the smooth and smoky flavor of the eggplant, this salad is sure to convert anyone into an eggplant lover. Because it keeps well and is served at room temperature, Al-Raheb is often offered at mezzes as part of the array of dozens of dishes that constitute a mezze. It is also served at buffets, wedding parties or any big celebration.”

INGREDIENTS:
•             1 1/2 pounds of eggplant (one or two large or the little ones)
•             1 bunch of parsley or other herb
•             1 bunch of green onions or one small white or red onion
•             4 tomatoes
•             1 green pepper
•             3 cloves of garlic
•             Olive oil, as needed (at least 1/2 cup for the dressing, plus more to grill the eggplants)
•             Juice of 2 lemons
•             1 Tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (optional, but recommended)
•             Salt, to taste

METHOD:
1.            Peel and cut the eggplant into slices and sprinkle with salt. Set aside on a colander until they spit out a lot of brownish liquid.
2.            In the meantime, cut all the vegetables into small dices, mince the parsley and transfer to a salad bowl. Chop the garlic and mash in a mortar with a dash of salt. Transfer the garlic to a bowl and prepare the dressing: pour the lemon juice and olive oil and pomegranate molasses (if desired) and mix with a small whisk or fork.
3.            Wipe the eggplant slices dry and brush with olive oil. Grill on a preheated grill at medium hot setting until soft and charred a bit on both sides. Chop the eggplant into dices and transfer to the salad bowl. (Alternatively, you can bake them in a 350F oven until soft, about 20 minutes).
4.            Add the dressing to the salad bowl and combine all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed, and serve.

Recipes may be reprinted with the following credit: Copyright Joumana Accad

To create other traditional Lebanese dishes using fresh, locally grown foods visit www.TasteofBeirut.com.

About Joumana Accad

Joumana Accad was born in Beirut, Lebanon. She left the Middle East in 1975 and began an international journey. She moved to Paris in the mid-‘70s where she finished her formal education. She returned briefly to Beirut before moving to the United States in 1979. Widowed at a young age, Joumana moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987, remarried and raised two children. She couldn’t resist the call of cooking as she entered the Pastry Arts program at El Centro College in Dallas.  Upon graduation, Joumana became a pastry chef for a German restaurant, worked as a caterer, and sold her decorated cookies and cakes.  Whole Foods Markets asked her to teach classes on Lebanese cuisine at several of their local markets. Today she runs the popular food blog www.tasteofbeirut.comwhere she explores the cuisine of the Levant as well as the Middle East.

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