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Israeli Food for an Israeli Holiday

April 19, 2010 matkonation 1 Comment

As published in Maariv’s “Style” section

Israelis traditionally celebrate Israel’s Independence Day with the traditional B.B.Q or spring picnic. For Israelis, there’s no escaping the typical food that comes right after finding an open spot in nature, arranging the folding table or laying out a blanket. Don’t think that all dishes are suitable for nature- they have to be those that can withstand the road trips and the test of time (gentle green salad and chocolate soufflés should be kept at home). So in honor of the most Israeli holiday of the year we’ve chosen to post sustainable (for the outdoors), easy to make and tasty (eaten alone or in a pita), that go well with each other, but could also stand alone. Bon Appétit (or as we say in Hebrew, Betei Avon).

Kebabs with Pistachios

Instead of pine nuts, try using pistachios, which give the kebabs a nice splash of color and add a nice crunchy texture.

Ingredients for 6 servings:

1 pound ground beef

1 small yellow onion, peeled and grated

¼ cup pistachios, peeled and halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

For cooking:

Canola oil

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients with your hands for about two minutes until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  2. Take enough meat to fit inside the palm of your hand (about a ¼ cup) and make either circular or elongated kebabs. Once all the meat is shaped, keep in the fridge until frying or grilling.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan or an outdoor grill. Lightly oil (either the pan or grill) and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until the kebabs are ready.

Tips for the perfect kebab:

The best type of ground meat to use for kebabs is short rib, chuck, or flank. The meat should 80-85% lean (15-20% fat), otherwise it will become dry. Hand mixing the meat before making the kebabs will help the kebabs stick together and remain whole during cooking. Before cooking the entire batch, do a test run on one kebab to check to see if the meat needs additional seasoning. If the kebabs are sticking to the pan or grill- give them another minute of cooking and they then they can be easily removed.

Zucchini and Dill Salad

This is just like the well known cucumber and dill salad but the zucchini version. Since the zucchini is not cooked in this recipe, use only very fresh zucchini.

Ingredients for 6 servings:

4 firm and fresh zucchini, coarsely grated and strained well

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup dill, chopped

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Taste and season as necessary.
  2. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two days. The salad will produce extra liquid while being stored- if you don’t want the extra liquid you can use a strainer).

Eggplant, Maple and Soy Sauce Salad

A great combination of flavors- the sweet maple and salty soy sauce work great with eggplants.

Ingredients for 6 servings:

2 eggplants, sliced into 1 cm. circles

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Fresh ground pepper

¼ cup parsley, chopped

1 hot chili pepper, thinly sliced

For frying:

Canola Oil

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat, add enough canola oil to just cover the pan and fry the eggplant slices on each side until golden. Remove from heat and let rest on paper towels.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the maple syrup and soy sauce and add the fried eggplants. Add fresh ground pepper to taste and mix. Sprinkle on the parsley and chili pepper, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  3. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Coleslaw with Apples

A healthy, colorful salad- the apples add an interesting sweetness and tanginess to this typical salad.

Ingredients for 6-8 servings:

½ head of red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

2 green apples, unpeeled and cut into matchsticks

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons apple vinegar or white vinegar

1 heaping teaspoon mustard

1 heaping teaspoon sugar

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients until the sugar has melted. Add the rest of the ingredients to the sauce and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  2. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to two days. If you like the salad really crispy, then keep the sauce and the salad ingredients separate and mix just before serving.

Pickled Lemon Tahini

This Tahini is so good that I can eat it all with a just a spoon, without any help from a slice of bread of pita.

Ingredients for 3 cups of tahini:

1 cup raw tahini (found in Middle Eastern specialty markets)

¼ cup lemon juice

1⅓ cups water

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup pickled lemon, chopped (found in Middle Eastern specialty markets)

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and blend until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of water. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  2. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

One comment to “Israeli Food for an Israeli Holiday”

  1. hedy says:

    this is quickly becoming my “go to” guide for new recipe ideas. My husband thanks you very much

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