We’ve all been there: it’s 8pm on a weeknight, and you’ve just come through the door after another 12-hour day. The shoulder-strap of your bag has burned its shape into your flesh, your feet are throbbing, your ankle is sporting a new blister from the boots you’re still trying to break in. You haven’t eaten a thing since the granola bar you wolfed down before your workout, and you’re pretty sure that peanuts and dark chocolate do not fulfill the daily nutrition requirements. That pizza in the freezer is looking mighty tempting right about now… But you shouldn’t go there. Instead, treat your body with respect and make a fresh, Israeli chopped salad in under 30 minutes, one that will actually fill your stomach as well as replenish your lost energy scores.
This salad is a riff on a staple at most Israeli falafel, shawarma, and steak restaurants. It’s a ubiquitous sight as part of a large salad spread at parties, or at every Israeli family dinner. It was often the only thing I could eat on menus that were entirely meat dominated, and I even came to resent it over time. But now that summer is gone and fresh vegetables are getting few and far between, this Israeli chopped salad is a way to bring some lightness back into your lunch or dinner routine.
It’s a vegan, healthy, and filling salad that can be made for one, or multiplied to feed 10. This Israeli vegetable salad really is more about the technique: all the ingredients are chopped very finely, and then drizzled with a lot of clean, punchy dressing. It gets its healthy fat and protein from nuts and tahini sauce, and its vitamins from cucumbers and tomatoes (in winter, please use cherry tomatoes – though they can’t be cut as finely, they hold a lot more juice).
It really is more of a rough blueprint for whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand – if you’re eating this with some protein on the side, or you’re not a fan of seeds, feel free to omit the pumpkin seeds, the tahini, or the hemp hearts. You can add lettuce, and use mint instead of parsley. I recall one particularly wild day, during a stage in which I hated cucumbers and lettuce, when I reduced this salad to an entire bowl of onions and tomatoes. Do not repeat that one at home, readers.
So take 15 minutes, and treat yourself to a nice, big bowl of Israeli vegetable salad. Your body will thank you. And just to balance all that goodness out, have a big glass of white wine on the side, and browse through these links.
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- I am never more than a bag of frozen (or can of) pumpkin puree away from some pumpkin-y treats come fall, and this looks like the next must. And no, I’m not hating on pumpkin just yet.
- I made this soup from Oh My Veggies this week, and it was incredible (we added some vinegar at the end). Better pull out that slow cooker!
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- What people thought of vegetarians in the 1930s (and that’s when they were trying to be helpful).
- 1 medium-sized cucumber
- ¼ red or white onion
- 1 tomato (in winter, please use a handful of cherry tomatoes)
- 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
- ½ Tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tsp za'atar herb mixture
- 1 Tbsp finely sliced parsley or mint
- 1 Tbsp raw tahini
- 1 Tbsp tahini oil (if your tahini isn't really separated, just scoop out two tbsps of tahini and oil)
- 2 Tbsp water
- juice of ¼ of a lemon
- ½ tsp salt
- Toast sunflower seeds. Set aside
- Finely chop cucumbers, onion and tomatoes (ensure all of your pieces are really small and uniform; this is the magic of this salad). Ladle into a bowl, and toss to mix.
- Sprinkle toasted sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, za'atar mixture and mint (or parsley) on the salad.
- In a jar, mix raw tahini, tahini oil and water (you may need to use a blender, depending on how soft your tahini is). Drizzle tahini on salad.
- Finely, squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle salt on salad. Toss to combine, taste, and add more salt or lemon, as needed.
- Serve with some warm pita, crusty bread, or your choice of protein.