Friday, March 20, 2015

Simple Israeli Salad

This is the way my grandmother made Israeli salad for the family.  Some recipes I've seen add quite a few ingredients.  I've kept the important ingredients.  It's really supposed to be kept simple.  I don't know why cooks have to go through and add so many unnecessary ingredients.  I think the mistake many cooks make is that they put too many different ingredients into the salad.  It's beautifully colorful and fresh just the way it is.  My grandma has passed on, but her recipe for Israeli salad lives with me.  My grandmother made this recipe for us numerous times. This is the way I was taught within my own family.

Simple Israeli Salad

1 English Cucumber or Israeli Cucumber (cucumber with ruffled edges)
2 Roma Tomatoes
1 White Onion
1 teaspoon of Freshly Ground Pepper
2 teaspoons of Coarse Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp of Extra Light Olive Oil

I have my cucumber, tomatoes and onions set out, and I used a large chopping knife.  Any serrated knife will also do, but I like my chopping knife because it gets the edges so perfect, and is nice for dicing up vegetables.

Some people will peel the edges of the cucumber. Do not peel the cucumber.  I believe the peel is one of the most healthful parts of the cucumber and gives the salad a nice crunch so I leave on the cucumber peel.  Some cooks will remove the seeds of the cucumber.  I honestly don't see the point to that.  The seeds of the cucumber are some of the best parts.  As you can see when I split the cucumber it is very fresh.  Removing the seeds would be a great task and loss of perfectly good cucumber.  Leave the seeds in the cucumber.

I sliced the cucumber into rows, and then diced it into nice bite sized chunks. 

Once everything is chopped up, I have my helper, Nicole, put the chunks of cucumber into our salad bowl.

Now it's time to chop up some Roma tomatoes.  I cut the top off the tomato and cut it into halves.  After that I slice the tomato.

After the tomatoes are cut up, I place them on top of the cucumber.

Now, this without a doubt, the hardest part of making an Israeli salad.  I can never get past this point without crying.  Cutting the onions has got to be the hardest part.  I cut the ends of the onion off.  I removed the center.  The center of the onion has an especially hot and spicy flavor.  I'm not going for that so I remove the center of the onion. The center of the onion will not be used for this recipe.  I slice and dice the onion into chunks (trying not to cry).  Weeping terribly, I put the chunks of onion into the bowl.

This is the beginning of an Israeli salad with some beautiful color. 

Now it's time for the salt and pepper.

I added about two teaspoons of Kosher salt.

I added about a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper.

Finally, I add a tablespoon of Extra Light Olive Oil and toss the salad altogether.

Stir all of these ingredients together.

There you have it.  Israeli Salad is usually considered a side, but it can be eaten like an entree.  This is so easy to make and tastes so fresh that I typically make bowls of it, and at gatherings it is quickly gone.

I think many cooks will add lemon and vinegar and mint and bell peppers and parsley.  I don't think that's a requirement.  I don't add any of those.  I don't want too much acid in the salad.  I don't see the point of adding things that will make the salad more bland.  This Israeli salad is very vibrant.  Not only is it vibrant in colors, but it is also vibrant in flavor.  To me Israeli salad is the Jewish form of Pico de Gallo.  It goes perfect with pita bread and hummus, and is delightful for family gatherings.  In my opinion, this salad is crunchy wonderful.  It is fresh and amazing.  The only draw back is onion breath so if you happen to eat this on a date, please remember to bring the mouthwash.

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