Recipe: Five Israeli Salads

By Jean Graubart
Director, Leo & Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning

(c) PBS

Thinking about the beautiful days we are having and the joy of being surrounded by friends, eating and laughing and talking and crying… all that is missing is good food.

When the weather begins to warm up, I picture salads of all kinds and colors and tastes.  Perhaps more than any other food, salads are the typical Israeli dish.  The evening meal is often a variety of salads consisting of many vegetables, grains and fruits.

I remember my days on Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra and Kibbutz Hanaton, working in the communal kitchens there, where I would find freshly picked vegetables and be told, “create a salad.”

The most typical salad – and an accompaniment for most all meals – is the Israeli Salad.  We made bowls of it for breakfast, lunch and supper for the hungry kibbutzniks who piled their plates with this salad.

Little dishes of many tastes is very middle eastern.  It is fun to create various salads, many tastes and highlight the wonderful produce that is part of this season.

There are few other sights in Israel or the world that can compete with the color and clamor of their fruit and vegetable markets.  The produce tastes as good as it looks!

ISRAELI SALAD
3 to 4 cucumbers (the Persian are the best, sweet as sugar and delicious whole or in this salad)
3 firm ripe tomatoes  (grape tomatoes make slicing easy, cut in 1/4s)
3 to 4  peppers (mix yellow, orange, red, green)
6 scallions sliced thinly
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped

Cut all vegetable into small pieces or cubes Add 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper.
Taste and add whatever your palate calls for

Tehina dressing can also be used:
2 teaspoons tehina paste (available in most markets) Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cold water
Salt, pepper and paprika.
Mix well and pour over vegetables.

ZA’ELUK SALAD
3 red peppers
3 green peppers

Char peppers on the grill until the skin is black
Remove from the fire and peel
Cut the peppers into strips
Add 3 tablespoons oil, 3 garlic cloves crushed, salt, pepper and juice of 1 lemon

Great on the side of fish, chicken or with other salads!

BEET SALAD
4 to 6 beets (any color) roasted on a cookie sheet (rub with olive oil) Bake in 400 degree oven for about an hour Cool and slice or dice
1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 to 1 cup vinegar (Balsamic is perfect)
2 small onions (red or white) sliced thinly into rounds
finely chopped parsley or cilantro

Mix and chill.

SMOKED EGGPLANT SALAD
2 small firm eggplants
1/2 cup grated onion
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tehina
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Grill or broil eggplants 15 minutes turning for even cooking
Test for tenderness and then let the eggplants rest on grill or in the oven
Peel the skin and discard the liquid
Chop the eggplant by hand (not in the processor) so small pieces are formed
Mix the eggplant with all other ingredients
Refrigerate and enjoy with crackers or pita

And what salad table in Israel would be complete without hummus? Make your own easily!

HUMMUS
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans drained
1/3 cup tehini
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from a jar salt and pepper

In a processor, drop in garlic and mince, add chickpeas, tehina and lemon juice
Process until mixture is smooth
Add roasted pepper and process until finely chopped
Season with salt and pepper
Transfer to bowl and pour olive oil in a swirl on top
Sprinkle sumac or zahtar to taste

Enjoy these tastes from Israel and surprise family and friends with a table full of healthy and fresh salads to accompany any other foods or as a meal itself.

Summertime means salads!  Start early mastering your favorites!

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