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."