A salad in Israel is a ritual. They have it with every meal, including breakfast but it is not necessarily the green leafy salad we are used to here (although they do have green leafy salads loaded with good stuff there as well). The traditional Israeli salad is made with ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, sweet red pepper and a sweet and pungent white onion and then you can add lots and lots of chopped flat leaf parsley. Oh, yes, don’t forget to drizzle with good olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt. That’s about it. I am hard pressed to think of something this salad doesn’t go well with, it is that versatile.
The trick about this salad is to chop everything into small dice but even this rule can be broken without penalty. It’s easy to dice a larger tomato but when I make it with cherry tomatoes I just cut them in half.
The salad is part and parcel of the very famous (and for good reason) Israeli breakfast, an experience you mustn’t miss if you can. At breakfast they serve it with eggs, bread and cheeses among other breakfast items and don’t plan to eat and run. Israeli breakfast is a ritual that demands your time and attention.
I made the salad the other day to accompany a rice-lentil-and-noodle dish and thought I’d share it with you. I had beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes but use whatever you have. The only caveat is that the tomatoes must be ripe.
The salad makes its own dressing with the olive oil and salt and juices from the tomatoes. Some add lemon juice, I let the acidity of the tomatoes speak for itself.
2 baskets heirloom cherry tomatoes, or 4 ripe field tomatoes
2 field cucumbers
1 sweet red pepper
1 small white onion
A large handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more
A couple of large pinches of coarse sea salt.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl.
Dice the cucumber, pepper and onion into small dice and add to the tomatoes.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Add the chopped parsley and toss to combine.
That’s it. The salad is best when served fresh. Tomatoes do not do well once refrigerated. But don’t throw out leftovers. We have had it the next day and it was still fine, although best when fresh.