I discovered the glory of Israeli salad like most every other Jew does — while traveling abroad to Israel in the summer of 2005. Only for me, I was sitting on a beach at an ocean-side restaurant in Tel Aviv 24 hours after landing. But this wasn’t just any Israeli salad. The base was the traditional cucumbers and tomatoes but it never dawned on me that one could ‘dress up’ Israeli salad with yummy accessories like feta cheese, watermelon, fresh herbs, radishes, etc. This salad was a culinary revelation and when I got home from that trip all I did was experiment with the humble yet glorious Israeli salad not only because it’s delicious but because those fresh flavors always bring me back to that beachside Tel Aviv cafe. The recipe below is an example of one of my go-to recipes that came from all my Israeli salad experiments. Grilling peaches is such a treat — it really enhances the sweetness of the peaches, which is such a lovely partner to the saltiness of feta cheese.
Enjoy and happy summer!
- 2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 cups chopped Persian cucumbers, peeled and diced
- 1 cup cooked pearl barley, cooled
- 2 peaches, grilled (instructions below)
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup sheep’s milk feta
- Lemon honey vinaigrette (ingredients and recipe below)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 small lemons or 1 large)
- 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup olive oil
- Combine all salad ingredients into a large bowl except for the mint and feta. Toss with cooked and cooled pearl barley. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil and stir. Next, add half of the chopped mint leaves and feta. Toss to combine. Top with salad dressing and rest of the mint leaves. Serve room temperature or cold.
- Cut peaches along the seam all the way around and twist halves off the pit. Discard of entire pit (be thorough — accidental pit-eating would be a bummer). Brush cut sides with olive oil. Cook, cut side down, on a hot grill until fruit has grill marks, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Rotate 90 degrees to continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes or until total grill marks appear and the fruit starts to caramelize. Remove from the grill with a pair of tongs and sprinkle with a dash of flaky sea salt.
- Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl or jar, combine lemon juice, vinegar, honey, coarse salt, and ground pepper. Whisk until salt has thoroughly dissolved. Gradually add the oil and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Whitney Fisch received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan and is currently working as The Director of Counseling at Milken Community Schools’ Upper School Campus in Los Angeles, CA. When not dealing with the trials and tribulations of roughly 600 high schoolers, she is at home dealing with the trials and tribulations of her3 young children as well as cooking… a lot. She blogs about all things food and life on her blog, http://jewhungrytheblog.com/. Jewhungry was a Top 5 finalist in 2013 for The Kitchn’s Homie Awards for Best Health & Diet blog and in 2014, Whitney co-authored a Passover e-cookbook that same year with fellow Jewish foodbloggers, Amy Kritzer, Sarah Lasry and Liz Reuven called, “4 Bloggers Dish: Passover – Modern Twists on Traditional Recipes”. Whitney contributed recipes and blog posts to Interfaithfamily.com, The Huffington Post, and The Nosher. You can follow Whitney’s adventures on Instagram at @jewhungry or via her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jewhungry