Israel Impressions 2: The Food

May 13, 2013

A late lunch at Greg's Restaurant in the Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem

A late lunch at Greg’s Restaurant in the Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem

I can’t begin to express how much I loved the food in Israel.  (Sorry, France.  Your excellent meals came in a close second.)  Everything Mediterranean exploded with freshness — the lemons, tomatoes, cucumbers, za’atar seasoning, mint . . . I had forgotten how much I liked tabbouleh until I tasted it again in Israel.

My sister and her husband had a lemon tree laden with fruit in their backyard.  Their breakfasts, typical for Israel, included a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers.  They knew where to pick up fresh pita bread and handmade cheeses from family shops in the villages near their kibbutz.  The vendors in the souks of Akko and Jerusalem offered tempting choices — falafel, shawarma, bagels, breads, spices . . .  It was a visual feast as well.  Join me and feast your eyes:

One of my sister's breakfasts served on the backyard patio

One of my sister’s breakfasts served on the backyard patio

Audrey's and Alberto's kitchen counter

Audrey’s and Alberto’s kitchen counter

Alberto's Memorial Day barbeque

Alberto’s Memorial Day barbecue

Dinner at a restaurant -- the table was filled with little plates

Dinner at a restaurant — the table was filled with little plates

Restaurant entree

Restaurant entrée

At the end of the meal

At the end of the meal

After-dinner coffee

After-dinner coffee

Pita bread maker in a nearby village

Pita bread maker in a nearby village

Stacks of bread, vendor near the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

Stacks of bread, vendor near the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

Shawarma vendor, Jerusalem

Shawarma vendor, Jerusalem

Bread shop in the Old City, Jerusalem

Bread shop in the Old City, Jerusalem

Falafel maker in the Old City, Jerusalem

Falafel maker in the Old City, Jerusalem

One of the first things I did when I returned home from my trip was to attempt to recreate an Israeli meal — pita bread, hummus, and tabbouleh.  I found a good recipe for quinoa tabbouleh online, but it didn’t quite measure up to the lemony tabbouleh I tasted in Israel.  I’ve copied the recipe for you below:

Making tabbouleh at home

Making tabbouleh at home

Quinoa tabbouleh

Quinoa tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus  more
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black  pepper
  • 1 large English hothouse cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers, cut into  1/4-inch pieces
  • 1  cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Preparation

  • Bring quinoa, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in  a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer  until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand,  covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and  pepper.
  • Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool.  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing. DO  AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover remaining dressing and quinoa  separately; chill.
  • Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with  quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining  dressing over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Responses to “Israel Impressions 2: The Food”

  1. The Rider Says:

    Looks like something I have to do- get on a plane and go visit Israel and eat their food… Thanks for sharing!


  2. Rosemary it sounds heavenly…there is something about food from the Mediterranean….fresh, full of flavor and not at all like our over processed meals here…thanks for the recipe…I will try it.

  3. shoreacres Says:

    I love tabbouleh, but it’s fallen off my radar since the deli I bought it from discontinued it, and what you can get at the grocery is tasteless. I’m going to give your recipe a try. I have a friend who’s been nagging me to eat quinoa, so it will make her happy, too.

    I noticed in the comments on the original page that everyone added more lemon and one added some minced red onion. I believe I’ll do the same.

    • Rosemary Says:

      The tabbouleh that I ate in Israel was indeed very lemony. I, too, will add more lemon to my next batch.

  4. garden2day Says:

    OH! I am so in love with this. It all looks very delicious. Thank you for posting this recipe.


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