Middle Eastern sumac is usually available as a dry, crimson powder. It adds a tangy bite to dishes, either sprinkled on top, or baked in.

Sumac is a fruit with a lemony taste. Used as a spice in the Middle East, the berries are ground into a purple powder that not only adds flavor, but eye appeal. It’s lovely with salads or meats, or as a garnish on hummus or rice.

Traditionally, sumac was used as a medicine for things such as promoting healthy digestion, easing upset stomachs, and reducing fevers. Today, research has found sumac to have antimicrobial properties, and in one experiment, when it was added to the drinking water of animals, their DNA oxidized less.  It can also simply be used on the table as a condiment to replace salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings

2 C thinly sliced cabbage (I like red) ½ C chopped sundried tomatoes (1 package)
2 Tbsp good salt 1 English cuke, or 2 smaller cukes, sliced (4 C) 
2 C crumbled goat feta or soft white goat cheese or tofu ½ C extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 celery ribs, sliced (2 C) ¼ C lemon juice
1 bunch radishes, sliced (2 C) 1 Tbsp Middle Eastern sumac*
1 medium red onion sliced, (1 C)

Right in a colander, knead cabbage with salt for a minute or two (this I learned from Elena Volkova when I took her cooking class on “Fermentation” in the store). This will not only tenderize the cabbage, but will get the juices flowing. Allow cabbage to sit in the colander an hour (put colander in a bowl to catch juices or simply place the colander in the sink). After an hour, add remaining veggies and combine well. Let sit in the colander the same way as before another hour.

Turn veggies into a large salad or mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss again. Let salad sit, dressed, for 30 minutes or longer at room temperature. Serve. This is very yum.

*There is poison sumac, which grows on our continent, and a non-poisonous sumac that grows as a berry on a bush that grows wild in Mediterranean regions. You can find the Mediterranean sumac in our spice bins. We’re not trying to kill anyone, we promise!