Pita chips replace the traditional Italian-style croutons in this Lebanese Panzanella salad. They soak up the precious juice we wouldn’t even consider leaving behind. The mix of lemon with rice vinegar gives the sweet tomatoes the perfect pop of tartness we love so much.
Sometimes I think that the whole purpose I am here, back home in Michigan, is to have access to weeks like these. Mom has her Abowd siblings here, some of them at least, and I get to be a fly on the wall to their conversation. At this point in their lives, with more than one beloved spouse and sibling gone, they want to talk about their past. They want to talk about their parents and their childhood, and they go to great lengths to place events on the timelines of their lives.
I ask: does it all seem like long ago? In some ways yes, and in other ways, not at all. They agree on that.
So I can’t help but wonder when my siblings and I get together way on down the line, what are the memories we’ll hold dear, and laugh the hard, real laughter over? Will this time, right this second now, be the thing that was so long ago? It was the summer I published my book, yes, that must have been 2015, when Mom and the Abowds got together here, and we heard so many good stories. Like that?
Will I taste from the bowl of tomato salad that will surely be on the table if we’re Up North in August for this later-in-life gathering, and remember it was August when the Abowds got together, Because we had tomato salad every day, must have been August. Like that?
No doubt I will recall that back then, which is right now, it reminded me of when we were all kids, and we wrangled to get into the salad bowl at the end of dinner for the nectar, the leftover tomato salad juice.
No doubt I will recall how my brother Dick would get after the salad drippings with pieces of pita bread dipped in to soak it all up. And how every time I eat tomato salad, I think of this and want to do exactly as he did.
For the taste, for the flavor of it all.
Lebanese Panzanella Salad
Pita chips replace the traditional Italian-style croutons in this tomato salad. They soak up the precious juice we wouldn’t even consider leaving behind. The mix of lemon with rice vinegar gives the sweet tomatoes the perfect pop of tartness we love so much.
- 2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, all shapes, colors, and sizes, cut in 2-inch pieces
- 1 sweet onion, cut in half-moon slices
- 1 1/2 cups toasted pita chips
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
• Combine the tomatoes, onion, and pita chips in a salad bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder, and salt. Toss the salad with the dressing, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, then top the salad with the mint and freshly ground black pepper.