There are few things as wonderful as Israeli breakfast. Unlike the cheerios-and-milk American routine (or, even worse, the ubiquitous but tasteless nutrition bar), Israeli breakfasts are adventures in flavor, texture, and spice. Like the people themselves, Israelis' breakfast foods are bold, with assertively tangy flavors, and comprise the freshest ingredients.
Think stacks of fresh pita to be dunked in hummus, labane (a thick yogurt-based cheese), fruity olive oil, and za'atar–the essential Israeli herb.
Here are recipes for three Israeli breakfast spreads: a nutty hummus, homemade labane, and Muhamarra — a Syrian red pepper and walnut spread with a kiss of pomegranate syrup. Serve these spreads with sliced vegetables, but also try them with my final recipe, pickled cauliflower. Its flavors are strong enough to stand up to the spreads. The cauliflower is great 24 hours after preparation and only improves with age.
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 cups cooked (or canned) garbanzo beans, drained
- 1-2 cloves garlic, to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4-1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon za'atar (or paprika)
Grind the walnuts in a food processor, so they are a sandy texture. Add most of the garbanzos, 1 or 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 clove garlic, and lemon juice. Process until smooth.
Drizzle in the water a bit at a time and puree more, until the hummus is creamy. Taste; if desired, add the second garlic clove. Let the processor run for a minute or so, to incorporate air into the puree and give the hummus a light texture. Taste, adjust the seasoning–more salt, more lemon juice, etc.
Serve in a shallow bowl, topped with remaining chickpeas, drizzled with plenty of the remaining oil, and sprinkled with paprika or za'atar. You can also garnish with cured olives and red pepper oil, another lovely option.
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