In our home there is a clear division of labor when it comes to the kinds of meals we both cook. The husband is in charge of meat and fish. I am in charge of soups, sauces and salads. (And dessert too of course). .
Salads are really so much fun to throw together. I love experimenting with seasonal ingredients I find at my local farmer’s market and also using ingredients I have hanging around in my house. And above all about salads: I love that you can improvise.
The salad calls for arugula but all you have is spinach? Just substitute! Have some apples in the house that you want to use before they go bad? Chop them up and throw them in! This is actually how some of my best salad creations came about in the first place including one of my favorites, this Spinach, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with edamame and cucumbers. It was literally what I had in my fridge and it happened to combine together for a delightful and delicious result.
I have found that traditional Israel salad is just the kind of salad that can be made into multiple variations, each one slightly different. For a little more spice you can add a pinch or two of sumac. You can leave out the peppers, leave out the cucumbers, or even add a few things, like chickpeas, feta and mint.
This salad came about like so many of my other favorite salad combinations. It was Saturday afternoon, my daughter was playing at the park with her dad and I was given a few moments to enjoy lunch by myself – glorious. Wine might have also been involved. I looked in the fridge, and threw together what I had: tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, chickpeas and feta!
And by adding chickpeas and feta, this classic side salad becomes a light but hearty main dish packed with protein, fiber and most importantly, flavor.
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 scallions, sliced
1 ½ cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, red onion, scallion, chickpeas and feta cheese in a medium bowl.
Dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle fresh mint on top.
Israel is turning 65 this year and will be celebrating Yom Ha’atzamaut, or Israeli Independence Day next week. I love Israel – the feisty people, vibrant music, beautiful land and above all else: the food!
Israeli breakfasts are perhaps my favorite part of the cultural cuisine – a huge spread of different kinds of salads, cheese, freshly baked bread and juices. Mmmm. I love the bakeries in Israel, and the fresh borekas that come in dozens of different varieties.
But my absolute favorite dishes are labne, a thick yogurt spread (which I like to eat as a snack with pita chips), Shakshuka, a zesty tomato sauce with baked eggs and Sabich, an Iraqi sandwich with eggplant, hard boiled egg, pickles and tahini.
In the mood to celebrate Israel with some food? We’ve got tons of recipes for you and your family to enjoy. Here are some classic Israeli dishes for next week, and all year:
Wanna get inspired? Check out one of these beautiful cookbooks, Jerusalem and The Book of New Israeli Food which are filled with mouth-watering photos and fantastic recipes inspired by the people of Israel.
Happy Birthday Israel!