Make Israeli Salad!

Israelis love to make fun of the way Americans prepare salad. "They just take a bag of lettuce out of the fridge," my husband's (Israeli) aunt says, gasping with laughter, "put it in a bowl, squirt dressing on top, and they think they made salad!" To Israelis, "salads" are haroset-esque mortars of diced vegetables, possibly including eggplant. In restaurant salads, you can sometimes spot small, shredded strips of lettuce gasping for air among the chopped peppers, sauteed mushrooms, sticks of cucumber, sprigs of cilantro, and chunks of goat cheese.

If you want to be Israeli, you must master the art of the Basic Israeli Salad.


Two small tomatoes
One medium cucumber (preferably, one tender enough to leave skin on)
One small onion (or half an onion, to taste)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice (or juice of 1/2 lemon)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: One bell pepper


Dice all of the vegetables into very small cubes (the smaller the better, as an issue of national pride). Add in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. To make it even more colorful, use yellow peppers and purple onions. Mix and enjoy!

To be truly Israeli, serve this salad with every meal, especially breakfast. (No, really! Israelis love salad for breakfast, along with pitas and hummus and hard boiled eggs.) I thought it was weird at first to put salt and pepper on salad, but don't leave them out-- they bring out the flavor of the veggies beautifully, and I actually now use this same dressing when I have a fit of American rebellion and prepare--*gasp*-- salad with lettuce. (I'm so sorry. I do slip up. I also sometimes... I'm so embarrassed to admit this... I sometimes eat cereal for breakfast. In fact, almost always. I'm still working on being Israeli, ok??)

Betei Avon*! What are your favorite Israeli foods?

*Hebrew for "bon apetit."


  1. Hi Maya, Congrats on the new blog, it looks great! I'm going to make this salad.
    Maria Schneider

  2. i must say i find you real funny.
    im not an Oleh but i must say i love your view of things.. im with a smile reading this.

    i can see it...a 30 posts collection binded in a book.. a post a day..."read it! so u can stay in israel with a smile".

  3. Shalom Maya,

    I am happy to have just come across this wonderful blog.

    Now, for the first time, I have made a humble Israeli salad. The experience had a side effect, as I found myself 'dismissing' the leafy lettuce that would have found its way into the mix.

    As if! *turns nose up* :-)

  4. Ha, I love that I'm turning people into Israeli salad snobs!! :)

  5. Good point... although I don't think zaatar is a must for Israeli salad. Most people I know don't put it on. Maybe my friends are too Polish... :)

  6. Found your blog a week ago---catching up. It's "wonder-full" of just what I would like to learn about your country. I like the idea of salads fir breakfast---as one should eat like a King/Queen. Gas, not so much at my age. If you fork the outside of a cucumber ( straight down, all around) and take out seeds. Salt and drain---then ice water and sugar (flavor less ones) it helps.

  7. Donna: getting rid of the cucumber's skin AND seeds? Are you talking about the English cucumber? ..Because that would make sense. I would never do something like that to an Israeli cucumber, that's where all the flavour is!

  8. California ones, except this time of year they are from Mexico. Hope to get home grown later. I still degas any and all, blech I don't just the other can sneak up on ya at 61---or blame all the older men I work with


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