Israeli Salad, distinguished by finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers, is described (according to Wikipedia), as “the most well-known national dish of Israel.” Way to go on the fame and recognition, Israeli Salad! You totally deserve it. You are sooooo good.
Standard accompanying ingredients usually include onion, lemon juice, olive oil, and black pepper. Alone, that would be a delicious enough union of flavors, especially if you’re using sweet, garden-fresh tomatoes like those my gentleman-farming mother has been supplying me with all summer. But last week’s houseguest—my cousin Nina, who once lived on a kibbutz—recommends adding either a hard-boiled egg or feta cheese to the already-blissful concoction. We made this salad together while she was visiting, and although she specified either eggs or feta I insisted on adding both, because mmmm, eggs. And mmmm, feta. Nina also tosses in whatever green herb happens to be handy—parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, dill, etc. (We used dill.)
The Israeli Salad format begs for experimentation and creativity. There are versions that use radishes, bell pepper, hot chili peppers, carrots, cabbage, chives, ginger, chick peas, olives, preserved lemon peel, cayenne pepper—you name it. Nina’s husband likes to add mayonnaise, which may sound odd but actually gives the salad a texture that resembles those made with traditional Israeli white cheese, a fresh cheese similar to Quark. Basically, just chuck in whatever you want. You can’t go wrong.
- 2 large cucumbers, peeled (optional), seeded, and finely diced
- ¾ pound tomatoes, finely diced
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- optional chopped fresh herb, to taste (e.g., parsley, basil, cilantro, mint, dill)
- In a medium serving bowl, mix cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs, feta, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Toss lightly to combine.
- Mix in fresh herb, if using.
- Taste and adjust flavors as needed.