MEDIA SPOTLIGHT – Paying tribute to Israeli salads

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The Nosher, which is a wonderful online culinary publication devoted to Jewish and Israeli food, just published an excellent article about one of the great delights of the Israeli kitchen — salads. See below.

When I read the article, it really resonated with me because Israeli salads have such a central place in my culinary repertoire. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the variations that can be prepared. In my home, the major salad ingredients are of course vegetables, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh mint, green onions, radishes, pomegranate seeds and feta cheese, garnished with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

In praise of Israeli salads, I’m honoured to share with you this terrific article at the end of which are links to great recipes.

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The Best Part of Israeli Food Are the Salads
We love the beautiful array of salads you find on any Israeli table. 

By Sonya Sanford, The Nosher, May 27, 2020

If you find yourself at an Israeli grill restaurant, or in an Israeli home for dinner, you will likely be offered a generous array of salatim to start off the meal. Salatim is the Hebrew word for “salads,” but the term encompasses a wide variety of side dishes that are fixtures on an Israeli table. Salatim go far beyond leafy green salads and include pickles, grilled and cooked vegetables, chopped salads, dips, and spreads.

The ethnic mishmash of the Jewish diaspora is often reflected in the country’s salads. Communities from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, South America, and more have come to Israel and made the small stretch of land their home. The result is a robust melting pot of people and cuisines coexisting in close quarters. Common salatim include Moroccan-style carrot salad, Eastern European beet salad, Middle Eastern chopped cucumber, and tomato salad, lacto-fermented pickled vegetables, and roasted eggplant salads. Popular salatim are influenced by the cuisines of Libya, Turkey, Russia, France, Morocco, Yemen, Iran, and more.

My admission: I love salatim more than any main course. I love sitting down to a table with an abundant spread of dishes, piling my plate with a bit of this and a bit of that and enjoy it all with a bit of fluffy pita on the side. One of my favorite food memories is from a recent trip to Israel when a family friend came by to deliver a full salatim spread for our evening meal. Originally from Russia, she is an avid cook who has fallen in love with the various cuisines in Israel. She made combinations of ingredients I had never seen before, like a heavily spiced roasted eggplant salad topped with crunchy Marcona almonds, and a North African inspired carrot salad with a hefty punch of fresh licoricey basil leaves. There could be no greater gift than some delicious and lovingly prepared salatim.

Traditional arabian eggplant dip baba ganoush with herbs, smoked paprika

Salads are made even better with peak-season produce. This time of year offers a bounty of late spring vegetables: sweet snap peas, asparagus, young radishes, artichokes, tender lettuce, arugula, and crunchy cucumbers. As summer comes, the options are endless: eggplant, peppers, corn, zucchini, fresh beans, melons, and the best, sweetest tomatoes of the year.

Here are some favorites to welcome you into peak salatim season:

Beet salad with tahini from Michael Solomonov

Tomato and pomegranate salad from Yotam Ottolenghi

Quick pickled cucumber salad from Shannon Sarna

Cinnamony eggplant salad from Adeena Sussman

Moroccan tri-colored carrot salad from Joan Nathan

Syrian tabouleh salad from Rebecca Firkser

Classic baba ganoush from Adeena Sussman

Zucchini baba ganoush from Sonya Sanford

Israeli salad from Einat Admony

Spicy sweet grilled vegetables with silan from Amelia Saltsman

Pickled pink turnips from Sonya Sanford

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  • This article, The Best Part of Israeli Food Are the Salads, was published in The Nosher on May 27, 2020. It was written by Sonya Sanford.

 

 

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