Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Israeli Salad

Today we had a slightly hot 83 degree day in LA and it finally felt like summer. I made a batch of ice cream (recipe to come soon) and had one of my all time favorite hot weather meals: Israeli salad.* Well, the salad itself was not the entire meal, but it was the highlight. Along with the salad I had some bread, kalamata olives, Israeli pickles, and cheese. The best part of the meal: dunking chunks of bread into the remaining salad dressing after everyone has finished eating. Maybe that's slightly rude, but try it once and you'll temporarily forget your table manners.

This is one of the most refreshing salads and I have often lived off of it during really hot summer days. It's quick and easy to make and typically I have all of the ingredients at home. Once you start making this salad a few times you'll realize that you don't really need a recipe and can just throw things in as you go along. You can tweak it in many way and it's still great. Some people prefer red onions over scallions, you can throw in an avocado or some bell pepper if you feel like it, omit the parsley if you don't like the taste, etc... You get the point, this is so simple and straightforward that anyone can successfully make this and change it to their liking. Israeli salad also keeps well, so if you make it in the morning and take it to work for lunch, your salad won't end up mushy or soggy (like many others do).

The one thing you want to make sure of is that you have ripe tomatoes. With such a simple dressing, the ingredients need to be flavorful. I used a Meyer lemon (from the yard) in this and to be totally honest, I didn't feel the difference. But when I've made it with slightly unripe produce it tastes much less exciting.

*Yes, I realize that different cultures and countries have their own name for it, but since I have no clue as to where this salad originated, and I grew up calling it Israeli salad, I'm sticking with that.

3 medium ripe tomatoes (2 cups), diced
1 hothouse cucumber (2 cups), diced (this is great with Lebanese cucumbers if you can find them)
2 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1/2 a lemon)
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss. It's that easy!

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