My Israeli Salad

by rivka on September 12, 2011 · 8 comments

in easy-as-a-1-2-3, good for you, salad

If you ask D about my eating habits, she’ll not hesitate a moment before telling you that they’re strange. Among what she deems my more odd tendencies is my affinity for salad in the morning. She – and most everyone else – like starting the day with oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes. (I do, too. Not sure how else to explain this, this, this, and, you know, this whole category.) But I’m also quite content to make breakfast from chopped vegetables, some avocado, a squeeze of lemon, and a hunk of feta cheese.

That’s what I did while living in Israel. If I wasn’t running out the door with a bottle of drinkable goat’s milk yogurt in hand, I was frequently making this salad in the mornings. Frankly, I was making a version of this salad nearly three times a day.

Classic Israeli salad doesn’t have feta or avocado. It’s just tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, lemon, and salt. That’s good, too – but this is better. It’s more luxurious, and more filling. Serve it with pita and some hummus or labneh, and you’ve got a complete meal. For years, this has been my Israeli salad. I’ll happily stuff it into a falafel sandwich, just like real Israeli salad, but I’ll also pile it on wheat toast, taking things in a slightly different (but still delicious) direction.

When my mom and I are eating together, we often make something like this. The feta she buys is softer than mine, and it has this way of melting into the salad that I really like. If you think you’ll enjoy that, buy a soft feta. Sheep’s milk feta is especially nice, and the one I get at my local Whole Foods is pretty soft. Otherwise, buy a hard feta and cube it for the salad.

I hope you get a chance to make this while tomatoes are still plentiful and cucumbers are nice and crunchy. Before you know it, we’ll be talking about apple pie. Here.Comes.Fall.

My Israeli Salad
Serves 2 as a side salad

2 cups cherry tomatoes (I like to use more than one color)
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into chunks
3 Persian or other small cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and cut into chunks
5 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
juice and zest 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked pepper

In a medium bowl, combine vegetables and toss to combine. Add cheese, and give the mixture a few turns, avoiding breaking up the cubed feta too much. (This is less of an issue if you’re using crumbled feta.)

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Pour over salad, toss gently, and taste. Add more salt, pepper, or lemon as needed. Serve.

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1 Lydia September 12, 2011

I love this salad, and the million variations on it that I end up with (depending on what’s in the pantry/fridge). A good friend of mine is Iranian and he makes his version with pistachios or slivered almonds as well as a tiny bit of jalapenos added. The nuts make for a great alternative to the cheese for a protein component!

2 rivka September 12, 2011

Ooh, Lydia, I love the idea of adding nuts to this salad. I bet they’d be great with a few dried currants added to the mix as well.

3 la domestique September 12, 2011

The salad looks delicious and like it would really leave you feeling energized and ready to go! I like that you included avocado and feta. Yum.

4 Erin @ A Nesting Experience September 13, 2011

This salad looks super simple and completely delicious. I struggle sometimes with what to eat for breakfast because I’m not really into the traditional breakfast foods and I hate eggs. Usually I stick with fruit and yogurt, I’ve never thought of forgoing tradition and eating salad, though it is one of my favorite meals. Good for you!

5 Hannah September 13, 2011

Love Israeli salad for breakfast! When I was in Israel, I ate it every morning with g’vina levana and a hard boiled egg on the side. I like your version here with feta (Pastures of Eden is my favorite) and will try soon.

You are so right…fall is tip-toeing in. I must say I’m looking forward to the crisp air and cooking with apples and squash.

6 rivka September 13, 2011

ohh, squash. I know in a month I’ll be sick of it, but right now, I’m also looking forward.

7 Zahavah September 13, 2011

I love Israeli salad for breakfast. With labne, just as you described. I also love it with goat’s milk feta — Trader Joe’s carries a great one — mild and not too salty!

As for those apple pie recipes — keep them coming! I’m working on strudel these days.

8 Hana I. September 18, 2011

I eat Israeli Salad w/feta and avocados + a t. of prepared pesto in a whole wheat honey tortilla at least four times a week for lunch. Variety is great, but if it isn’t broken, don’t mess with it. :)

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