Saturday, September 7, 2013

israeli breakfast salad

we've already established that salad for breakfast is totally delicious and great, right? right.

this israeli salad is my new favorite weekend breakfast, though i also sometimes bring it for lunch. it's versatile like that.

it's also cold and refreshing, which is nice since texas hasn't gotten the message that it's supposed to cool off post-labor-day. stupid texas. when it's 100 degrees one doesn't necessarily feel like having a hot plate of migas. oh, who am i kidding - one always feels like having a hot plate of migas. but alternating them with breakfast salads will make you feel extra virtuous and clever.

anyway, it's stupid-easy and you get to practice your knife skills (which is why i usually make this on the weekends - it's a lot of chopping for a weekday morning when you haven't had coffee yet). you want to make all of the pieces as close to the same size as is reasonably possible, so a little concentration pays off.

for two largish servings, just cut up some cucumber, sweet onion, tomatoes, herbs, and any color of bell pepper except green because they are disgusting. toss them with some lemon juice or vinegar, salt, and pepper and ta da! you can also add bits of cheese (feta, goat cheese, or manchego are all good), other vegetables (grated carrot, some zucchini, maybe jicama??), spices (sumac is good, and/or za'atar) or a bit of olive oil. it's good with toasted pita or flatbread, which you could also add to the salad itself to make an ersatz fattoush (that's a freebie for those of you who are always on the lookout for good band names, by the way). the only rule is that there are no rules!

actually, i think there are some rules (the main vegetables, the trying-to-make-them-all-the-same-size), but perhaps you're the type for whom rules were made to be broken, in which case do whatever. i'm no snitch.

the last warm weeks of summer are when this salad's ingredients are at their best, so make sure to try this before we're all bundled up and talking about roasted squash soup or whatever. jk, it will never again be cold enough to turn on the oven. we are doomed to eternal summer - might as well roll with it.

there are probably a million versions of this and i've never been to israel. this is just how i do it.

  • 1 large or 2 or more small cucumbers (those little persian ones are good here)
  • 1 red, orange, etc bell pepper
  • 1/2 a large sweet onion (like 1015, vidalia, etc)
  • 1 large or several small tomatoes (i used two big romas this time, but the fancy heirloom ones would be aces)
chop all of the vegetables into small and similar-sized bits (i usually try to a fairly small dice, like 1 cm or less). toss together with
  • 1-2 tbsp sherry vinegar, lemon juice, or other mildish vinegar (probably not a strong balsamic, for instance) - start small and taste until it's to your liking. i like it pretty tart.
  • a handful of herbs, chopped (parsley, basil, oregano, mint, tarragon and other more exotic herbs are all good in here. today i didn't have any parsley and my herbs aren't doing that well, so the pictured salad is not as herby as i would prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste (maybe 1 tsp salt, but start smaller)
optional: sumac, za'atar or other dried spices, to taste (maybe 1 tsp?), olive or maybe some kind of nut oil (i don't care for oil here, but some do!)

i like this best right after it's made, but it will keep for several hours in the fridge just fine.

listening to: songs mentioning john berryman - okkervil river's "john allyn smith sails" and the hold steady's "stuck between stations" (i think the hold steady is tied with yo la tengo as the band that looks most like they could your high school science or english teachers)

looking at: this "romantic real life comic" is adorable. also this tumblr is great for finding new art if you enjoy modern stuff but are lazy about seeking it out, as i am.


  1. Leela, I enjoy reading your posts to hear your irresistible writing "voice" even though I admit to not paying that much attention to the recipes. Hah! I love the way you write. - Carol B. from NB

  2. thanks, carol! you're so kind! i hope y'all are doing well.