Saturday, 26 October 2013

Israeli salad

One of the things I miss tremendously from Middle East are the meze tables, heaving with all sorts of salads. Food there is so fresh and light! Which is a good thing - seeing how the bikini bodies on display on any given Tel Aviv beach are each more fabulous than the next.

In essence this is probably the most fundamental of all the salads and can be found just about anywhere in Middle East. Its roots lay in Turkish cuisine and a Shepherd's salad known as coban salatsi. Personally I've come to know as Israeli salad as it's hugely popular there.

Flavour-wise this is very much like tabbouleh: juicy, acidic and oh, so fresh, but without couscous this is even lighter (and carb-free and gluten-free and dairy-free and suitable for vegans and raw food fanatics!) The basic salad consists of cucumber, tomatos and onion, but avocado and watermelon would work brilliantly too. 

As a side dish this is enough for 4, as part of a meze table it serves upto 6

1/2 cucumber
4 tomatos
1 onion or the green bits of 4-5 spring onions
2 handfuls of parsley leaves, chopped
1 handful of mint leaves, chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon, olive oil, salt

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out with a teaspoon. Then cut into small cubes. Cut the tomatos in half, remove the seeds and cut into cubes of similar size. Finely chop the onion and, along with the herbs, mix into the salad. Season with salt, combine lemon juice with oil into a dressing and fold into the salad.

In the summer this is the #1 accompaniment with grilled  meats (if I just close my eyes I can smell the delicious aromas wafting out of the seaside restaurants in Jaffa...) - try it with Moroccan köftes or pinchitos. In the winter these provide a nicely balancing act for heavier meals such as stuffed cabbage.




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