Israeli Salad

Last week I moved. It was a little bit traumatic, as all moves are, and incredibly sad for me. My apartment was very much home for the last two years. I loved the little kitchen, I loved the large mirror that made the place feel big and grand, and I loved the backyard that could host dozens of friends at once. I loved the neighborhood; the friends who lived within 5 minutes walking distance, the coffee shop that was my go-to study spot for most of graduate school, the hole in the wall grocery store that always managed to have exactly what I was looking for.

The view from my new place

My bright, but tiny new kitchen

Unfortunately, the building was unable to offer me the lease that I needed, so the apartment has been passed on to a couple who I hope will be able to love and cherish that place as much as I did. In the meantime, I’ll be finishing out my stay in Philadelphia in a small studio that has huge windows, incredible natural light, and little to no kitchen. It is certainly an adjustment for me, to say the least.

In the meantime, my head is full of boxes and mess, and my heart is heavy with news of hate and destruction around the world. It is these times of chaos and sorrow that most often have me turning to the kitchen. There is something comforting and soothing about making food, whether for yourself or others. There is something wonderful about sitting down to eat food that brings back memories from the past. It isn’t just the typical comfort foods that have this effect. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a salad.

Israeli salad goes by many names and has numerous variations in the Middle East. This is the simplest form, something you can throw together in minutes, serve with pride, and eat with pleasure. There is no cooking involved, making it the perfect summer recipe. The only real trick to making this salad authentic is dicing your ingredients finely. Large chunks of tomato and cucumber are equally delicious, but there is something about the fine dice of a traditional Israeli salad that makes it so much more enticing.

This salad is made of tomatoes and cucumbers, both of which are refreshing and hydrating. I like using Persian cucumbers because they tend to be crisp. This is the season for tomatoes, so make sure to get some ripe, juicy ones from your local farmer’s market. Or, if you’re finding that the tomatoes you buy are falling a little flat, sub in cherry tomatoes for the extra flavor. Add a little red onion or scallion for a bite, some parsley for flavor, and olive oil and lemon juice to top it all off. That’s it. Simple, delicious, refreshing, and addictively comforting.

Now this place is beginning to feel like home.

Israeli Salad

Serves 2

2 Persian cucumbers
3 small to medium sized tomatoes (or a pint of cherry tomatoes)
2 scallions, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Finely dice the cucumbers and tomatoes. Quarter and thinly slice the scallions. Mince the parsley leaves.

2. Mix the tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix, then add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve cold or room temperature.


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