My husband had a side dish of Israeli salad at a deli recently and hasn't stopped asking me to make it since then.
A quick search has yielded me several recipes, all of which include tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and parsley. Some include green peppers, carrots and radishes. One includes a chopped half-sour pickle, another calls for fresh mint, and another, shredded cabbage. The dressings all seem to be the same: vegetable or olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, though two mention the addition of celery seed.
Help! Is there something that, when chopped up and thrown together, is the quintessential Israeli salad?
The basics: chopped cucumbers and tomatos dressed in extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice with lots of salt and pepper. some popular additions include any/all/none combination of the following: chopped parsley, chopped green peppers, a small amount of finely diced red onion, some ground cumin.
Because it's usually simply prepared, the most important thing in an israeli salad is high quality ingredients. Use kirby cucumbers instead of the large waxy supermarket variety. use good quality tomatos, something hard to find just now. use a nice olive oil and sea salt. If you want you can substitue red wine vinegar for lemon juie. It's not as authentic but it tastes good.
when i was in israel, it seemed like it was simply tomato and cucumber, probably parsley. I don't remember any onion or carrot at all (and i ate a LOT of it!) I'm not sure what its dressed with, but when i make it for myself, i use a drop of good olive oil, and some lemon juice. it tastes just like what i had there.
I can't say that what follows is THE recipe for Israeli salad but while I was working on a kibbutz in Israel, I ate this salad as part of almost every breakfast and dinnner.
For 1 person...take 1 cucumber (small cukes work best), 1 tomato, 1/2 a small onion and dice together in a bowl. Add about 10 small green olives, pitted and chopped. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, 1/2 or whole lemon, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before so the flavours can mingle. You'll have a lot of "juice" but it's so good. I like it very tangy. Mixed together with some scrambled eggs and a dollop of good hummus and you have a great Israeli breakfast. Mmmm.
At a nearby restaurant, they make a similar salad but they add some chopped iceberg lettuce and fresh mint. Also quite tasty.
I think asking for the essential Israeli salad is like asking for the essential American salad - the answer you get will depend entirely on who you ask.
I would say use whatever veggies float your boat - we use whatever we have in the house, but almost always include tomato, carrots, onion, and usually radish. I've never included a pickle, but that could be good. The dressing combo you have sounds good - although sometimes we add a splash of balsamic. Serve with a hard boiled egg and you have the perfect Israeli breakfast!