a hard day’s day

crispy flatbread & zucchini salad with tuna

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like nothing is going your way? A day where it feels like the cards are well and truly stacked against you? A day that goes on and on like it’s actually lasting for a week? Well last Wednesday was just one of those days for me.

I won’t bore you with the details but to give you an idea, I was travelling interstate for work which meant setting my alarm for 5.30am. If I was lucky and the airline Gods were aligned and my return flight was actually on time, I would be home by 8.30pm. Sure it could have been worse. But I do remember walking in the front door that evening and thinking how much I love my place and that it felt like I hadn’t been home for at least a week.

On the flight home I had been thinking about what to have for dinner and had finally settled on a shaved cabbage salad given there was definitely cabbage in the fridge. But once I was in the kitchen with a glass of vino in hand, inspiration stuck. I love when that happens. When you take stock of the contents of your fridge and pantry and an idea is born. Something that you never would have thought of before. A bit of kitchen pot luck.

It was the bag of Lebanese bread on the bench top that did it. Somehow it triggered the recollection of a Karen Martini recipe where she stir fried thin ribbons of flatbread and tossed them with tomatoes and cucumber and tuna. I did have tuna but that was it. Then I spied the tray of zucchini that had been hanging out in the fridge for over a week. A grated zucchini salad? Why not?

So by nine o’clock dinner was on the table and Glen (aka my favourite Irishman) and I were relaxing on the balcony. Sharing stories from our days and loving my new salad creation. The crispy flatbread ribbons, spiced with a little Baharat (see below) are incredibly moreish. They would be lovely as a snack on their own or dipped into a little hummous but in the salad they provide textural contrast and the flavour hit of exotic spice.

The raw grated zucchini makes for a lovely moist salad as it soaks up the dressing, the perfect foil to the tuna and flatbread. Glen isn’t the biggest canned tuna fan so we had much discussion as to what else you could serve with the salad. I was thinking of replacing the tuna with almonds for a vegetarian option but Glen was keen on lamb or chicken.

So Friday night saw us giving our new favourite salad another go. This time as a side salad to accompany some succulent BBQ lamb cutlets. These had also been marinated in a little spice, something like the lamb I made while camping in Kakadu. Quite a different experience to the tuna version but just as delicious if not more so. Just the thing to turn a hard day’s day into a very pleasant evening….all good things

crispy flatbread & zucchini salad with tuna
serves 2-3

If you’re not a big tuna fan please don’t be put off, you can serve it without the tuna as a side salad or even replace the tuna with a few handfuls of toasted almonds if you’re after a vego main course.

for the bread:
1/4C extra virgin olive oil or chilli oil
2 pita or Lebanese bread rounds
1t baharat*
for the salad:
2T lemon juice
1t sherry vinegar
2T extra virgin olive oil
1/2t baharat*
3 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
½ red onion, finely diced
½ bunch mint, leaves picked, optional
1 – 2 x 185g can(s) tuna in oil, drained, optional

Roll flatbread into logs and slice crosswise into fine ribbons. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium high heat. Add bread ribbons and spice blend and stir fry until bread is crispy and toasted. Drain on paper towel.

Combine lemon juice, vinegar, oil for the salad and extra spice in a large salad bowl and season well. Toss through zucchini and red onion and allow to stand for a few minutes for the zucchini to soak up some of the dressing.

Toss through flat bread ribbons, mint leaves and tuna if using and serve immediately.
*note. Baharat is a Lebanse spice blend. To make your own toast each of the following spices lightly and grind whole spices separately. Allow to cool and combine.

2 1/2T mild paprika
2T black peppercorns
1 1/2T cumin seeds
1T each corriander seeds, cassia bark, and cloves
1/2t green cardamon seeds
1/2t nutmeg

Alternately you can make your own simple blend by combining equal parts of ground cumin, ground coriander and paprika.

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{ 10 comments }

Pat March 3, 2009 at 2:27 am

Those are the days you’re glad you have tuna in the pantry and anything else edible is a bonus ;-) Nice one, Jules.

Pat March 3, 2009 at 2:29 am

Those are the days you’re glad you have tuna in the pantry and anything else edible is a bonus ;-) Nice one, Jules.

Zoe March 3, 2009 at 3:47 am

He has a name!

Merry March 5, 2009 at 11:14 am

I tried this salad last night, with chicken instead of tuna and pita instead of flat bread – we loved it. (I am kinda sorry I didn’t have any flat bread – the pitta was a bit crouton like – I am sure the flat bread is a little different….)

jules March 6, 2009 at 11:55 am

thanks pat… I always love tinned tuna

Hi Zoe.
I’ve always hated when you read restaurant reviews and they talk about their dining companion with some made up name…have been meaning to introduce you all to glen for a while now. sorry it’s taken so long.

merry.
love your name! glad it worked out with chicken. am sure the pita bread would have been lovely

Chuck March 8, 2009 at 2:48 am

Jules have you ever thought of changing you career to food photography? I love all your photos they are beautiful! Wonderful blog!

Sneh March 9, 2009 at 8:58 am

I am glad the salad ended the day on a better note. I love the idea of fried strips of lebanese bread .. might try it with chicken breast strips! Thnx for sharing :-)

jules March 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

chuck.
thanks so much. I would love to have just that career change (just don’t tell my boss ;)

Thanks Sneh
The lebanese bread is seriously good. I’m thinking chicken would work really well. Good luck.

Y March 16, 2009 at 11:20 am

*Not* like canned tuna.. is it possible? Not even Sirena?

Beautiful salad, by the way. I love fattoush, and imagine I’ll love this one too.

Stonecipher June 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Insightful. Bookmarked.

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