Turkish Cypriot Cuisine Salad

Creating a vibrant and refreshing salad inspired by the rich traditions of Turkish Cypriot cuisine is a journey into the heart of Mediterranean flavors. This particular recipe, which carefully combines the earthy tones of cannellini beans with the zest of fresh herbs, tangy fruits, and a dressing that sings with flavor, is a celebration of both taste and texture. Let’s embark on a culinary adventure to craft this salad, paying homage to the original while ensuring our creation is distinctively unique.

Ingredients and Their Symphony

Cannellini Beans Base:

  • 1 x 400g can of cannellini beans: These beans, with their soft, creamy texture, form the backbone of our salad. Their mild flavor makes them an excellent canvas for the vibrant dressing and herbs.

For the Zesty Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp of the finest extra virgin olive oil you can find, plus a little extra for that final flourish. The oil’s fruity notes will carry the flavors of our dressing.
  • Juice of 1 large lemon, for its bright acidity and citrusy spark.
  • 1 tsp of white wine vinegar, adding a subtle tang to balance the dressing.
  • 3 tsp of dried mint, for its aromatic warmth and depth.
  • 1 tsp of sumac, to introduce a lemony tang and beautiful color.
  • 1 tsp of sea salt flakes, with a little extra to adjust the seasoning to your taste. The salt crystals enhance the salad’s flavors, making them more pronounced.

Fresh Herbs & Vegetables:

  • 25g of fresh mint leaves, with a few reserved for garnish. The rest should be finely chopped, its stalks set aside for a refreshing mint-infused tea, offering a nod to sustainable kitchen practices.
  • 50g of fresh coriander, the leaves, and stalks finely chopped but separated. This herb will introduce a lively, citrusy flavor to the mix.
  • Seeds from half a large pomegranate, bursting with sweet, juicy crunchiness, adding a pop of color and texture.
  • 2 small Middle Eastern cucumbers or 1/3 of an English cucumber, de-seeded and chopped into 1/2 dice, for a crisp, refreshing crunch.
  • 4 small ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 cm dice, lending sweetness and juiciness.
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced, to add a sharp, peppery contrast.

For an Exquisite Finish:

  • 2 tbsp of pomegranate molasses, for a sweet and sour glaze that ties all the flavors together, creating a masterpiece of a dressing.

The Art of Assembly

  1. Preparation Is Key: Begin by washing and draining the cannellini beans, ensuring they are ready to absorb the flavors of the dressing. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, dried mint, sumac, and sea salt flakes. This dressing will act as the soul of the salad, bringing all the components together harmoniously.
  2. Layering Flavors: To the dressing, add the finely chopped fresh mint (remember to set aside a few leaves for garnish) and the coriander stalks, reserving the leaves for later. This step allows the hardier parts of the herbs to soften slightly in the acidity of the dressing, melding their flavors.
  3. The Heart of the Salad: Gently fold the cannellini beans into the dressing, ensuring they are thoroughly coated. This is the moment when the beans begin to take on the zesty and aromatic character of the herbs and dressing.
  4. Adding Color and Crunch: Introduce the diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and sliced spring onions to the bowl. Each ingredient contributes its unique texture and flavor, adding layers of complexity to the salad.
  5. A Burst of Sweetness: Sprinkle in the pomegranate seeds, distributing them evenly throughout the salad. Their juicy sweetness and crunch will contrast beautifully with the creamy beans and savory dressing.
  6. Final Touches: Drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the salad, adding a final layer of tart sweetness that perfectly complements the other flavors. Finish with a light sprinkle of sea salt flakes, to taste, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for a glossy sheen.
  7. Serving with Elegance: Transfer the salad to a beautiful serving dish, garnishing with the reserved fresh mint leaves and the vibrant green of the coriander leaves. The result is not just a dish but a masterpiece that celebrates the essence of Turkish Cypriot cuisine, inviting you to explore its depth of flavor and texture.

In Conclusion

This salad is more than a simple dish; it’s a journey through a garden of flavors, where each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a harmonious whole. From the creamy cannellini beans to the zesty dressing, fresh herbs, and the burst of pomegranate seeds, every element comes together to offer a taste of Mediterranean bliss. As you enjoy this salad, remember that it’s not just about following a recipe—it’s about the experience of bringing together diverse ingredients to create something truly special.