Lunchbreak: Middle Eastern Chopped Salad

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Zachary Engel, Executive Chef and Partner at Galit


2429 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago


Middle Eastern Chopped Salad

Chop Salad with Za’atar, Bulgarian Feta and Preserved Lemon

Yields: 4 servings

During summer, when cucumbers and tomatoes are juicy and sweet, this salad is a great accompaniment with breakfast, a big lunch, or an evening barbecue with friends. The feta mixes in with the vinaigrette to coat the veggies in a salty, creamy sauce that’s perfect for soaking up with bread or pita.


8 persian cucumbers

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion, cut into ⅛” dices

5 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1 sprig mint

4 large lemons (for juice and zesting)

1 preserved lemon

½ cup white wine vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup za’atar

2 cups Bulgarian feta, crumbled

Salt, to taste


  1. On a cutting board, cut ⅛” of the stems off each end of the cucumbers. Slice lengthwise down the middle of each cucumber twice to form quarter spears. Dice the spears into cubes and place them in a large mixing bowl. No need to remove the seeds!
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the mixing bowl along with the diced red onion and chopped parsley.
  3. Pick each leaf of mint off the stem and place the leaves on top of each other. Place on the cutting board and run your knife across the pile of leaves into small strips. Add to the bowl.
  4. Zest the lemons with a fine grater over the bowl and let sit at room temperature.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, juice the lemons and add the white wine vinegar and ¼ cup of the za’atar.
  6. On the cutting board, cut the preserved lemon into quarters. With your knife, cut out the white fruit and be careful to remove the seeds. Discard everything but the yellow peels. Finely mince the preserved lemon peels and add to the bowl with the vinegar and lemon juice. With a whisk, mix everything together and slowly drizzle the olive oil in.
  7. Add salt to the bowl of cucumbers and tomatoes and stir with a spoon. It can take a lot more salt than you think and helps to pull all the cucumber and tomato juice out to build more flavor into the vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad. Stir well. Top with the crumbled Bulgarian feta and the rest of the za’atar.



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