Israeli food

Chopped Salad with Chick Peas, Feta Cheese and Zatar Vinaigrette

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For us, summer means salad. Not just leafy greens and tomatoes for starters to a meal. We eat bulky filling salads for dinner. Like this chopped salad, which of course could be served with other salads or as a side dish to grilled fish. But it’s also satisfying on its own, just like this. Add a crust bread and some fabulous olive oil for dipping and that’s all you need (except for dessert of course).

Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Feta Cheese and Zatar Vinaigrette

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and chopped

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 3–4 scallions, chopped

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup tangy black olives, pitted and halved

  • 3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon zatar

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Pita bread or crisps, optional

Place the cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes, scallions, chick peas, cheese, parsley, and olives in a bowl and toss ingredients gently. Just before serving, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, and zatar. Pour over the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Salad tastes good with Pita bread or crisps.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Best Hummus

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Despite the fact that hummus is the most popular snack and you can buy dozens of different kinds in every supermarket, I still make my own. And every time, a different recipe, always trying for perfection.

I served a version seasoned with zatar and garnished with toasted pine nuts once for an election night get-together.

I've made hummus using dried chick peas and canned.

One year the guests at my annual Break-the-Fast declared that year's hummus the best they ever tasted.

But apparently last year's Break-the-Fast version topped even that! 

So here is the recipe: easy to make, terrific for entertaining, for snacks, as a sandwich spread. Perfect all year, perfect for break-the-fast.

 

Lemony-Garlic Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas (about one pound)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 2 large cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon zatar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • cayenne pepper to taste (I use 1/8 teaspoon)

  • chopped parsley, optional, about 2-3 tablespoons

  • zatar, optional

  • pita bread or chips

Drain the chickpeas but reserve the liquid. Place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, paprika, zatar, salt and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until you reach the texture you like, adding 3-4 tablespoons of the reserved chickpea liquid if you prefer it smoother and softer. Spoon into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with optional parsley and zatar. Serve with pita bread or chips.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

New Year's Shakshuka

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I'm finding it a bit weird to be thinking about New Year's, even though we are well into December, because the weather where I live is balmy. For Connecticut in December that is. It feels more like October.

It is December though and New Year's is coming and Ed and I always spend New Year's Eve with my brother and sister-in-law, Jeff and Eileen, and also cousins Leslie and Neil. Then Les and Neil stay for a few days and we just hang out, watch movies and eat. And drink.

Most of the time we have smoked fish for breakfast 3-4 days in a row but for several reasons we are changing course this year. One day of lox-and-bagels will do.

So then what?

I'm planning to serve shakshuka one morning. I have several versions, some with cheese, some with mergeuz sausage, some all-vegetarian. Some with middle eastern seasonings, some with Mediterranean herbs such as basil or oregano. A quickie or two.

This is the one I'm thinking of for this year, a substantial dish that reminds me of Huevos Rancheros. The pita bread sops up the juices from the vegetables. Also, the eggs aren't poached, but baked under a layer of grated cheese. I can set this up ahead and just pop it into the oven before we are ready to eat.

Huevos Rancheros Shakshuka

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 medium serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pita breads
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and serrano pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until the ingredients are soft and sauce-like.

While the sauce is cooking, spread the butter over one side of the pitas and place the pitas in a large baking pan. When the sauce is done, spoon it over the bread.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl one at a time then transfer each one next to the other on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Place the baking pan in the oven and cook for 15-18 minutes or until the eggs are cooked but with slightly runny yolks and the cheese is hot and bubbly.

For a crispier looking top, place the pan under the broiler for a minute or so.

Makes 4 servings.