Sunday, May 31, 2015

Israeli Salad

Ahh, spring...fresh garden greens...plants...and flowers everywhere! A happy happy time of year :)

This past weekend I enjoyed a fun visit to my local farmer's market. All visits end with a healthy dose of happiness just soaking in all the fresh vegetables, flowers, fruits and such. This last visit my daughter caught eye of a baby honey bear and it was just too cute to pass up. So yeah, I had a two year old dipping her adorable fingers into a honey bottle and loving every second.
Here is some of my pickings. I actually bought almost double of all of the above because let's be honest this will only last till the end of the weekend. Especially after making this lovely simple salad. Fresh, simple, cheap and fabulous all summer long. Not to mention all the vitamins and nutrients... 
The cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley all came from one of my favorite farms at the market. If you are local, check out Real Food Farms at Fulton Market in Grand Rapids. They have the best, I mean the best cucumbers ever! They grow in greenhouses and the cucumbers and tomatoes that you can buy now instead of in August are so mouth-watering-amazing this time of year. The crunch and sweetness are seriously unexplainable wonderfulness.
This salad is so simple that it doesn't really need a recipe. Mainly the few needed ingredients and just making sure you have a great balance of cucumbers and tomatoes. It takes a little bit of chopping, but that's most of the fun so don't be stressed. Set up your chopping station and enjoy the colors, smells and wonderfulness of fresh local food!

This time as I was chopping I couldn't help reminiscing on my life 10 years ago this week. My husband and I were packing up our lives and heading to the other side of the globe. We moved to Jerusalem, Israel of all places and this salad only brings back intense memories. Everywhere we went we ate this salad, along with loads of fresh hummus and pita. After a few weeks, we finally learned our way around the markets and bought all of the below ingredients in bulk and made salad all-the-day-long. It was so delicious I can honestly say I never tired of such meals of hummus, pita (pre-GF- days :), salad and sometimes schwarma or falafel. The foods of the Jerusalem have a special place in my heart thats' for sure.
This salad is all about balance. You can basically make it without a recipe (or shrink or double) if you put in equal parts of the cucumber and tomatoes, the parsley and onion, and the lemon and olive oil. It can be as simple as you want it, or add other herbs, garlic, or spice if you want. It is surprising though how wonderful a few simple ingredients and the simple dressing can make an amazing combo.
Some dear friends, invited us for dinner and they served this amazing chicken dish.  This salad is the perfect pair for this dish. And I will tell you that I will be most likely be making this once, if not more, a week this summer while the fresh ingredients are bountiful. Recipes like this make it easy to be gluten-free, and even lots of allergens-free. It is great for kids and big gatherings too. I love and hoard recipes like this!
So, I'm not telling you to run to your nearest farmer's market, but maybe you should start thinking about planning to make it to your market and make this recipe in the next few weeks. Seriously, it's the least you can do to add some loving and happiness to your life.
Israeli Salad Recipe
3 large cucumbers, sliced and quartered
1 pound of cherry tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes, quartered or diced (or a mix of both or whatever tomatoes you got- key to make all pieces around the same size)
1 small onion finely diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 large handful of fresh finely chopped parsley
1 large handful of fresh finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup of quality olive oil
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch or two of sea salt
pinch or two of cracked black pepper

Chop all of the ingredients and mix well in a large bowl, chill in the fridge for a little bit to let flavors meld together. Serve with hummus, greens, rice, chicken, schwarma, falafel, chickpea flatbread and the list could go on and on. 
See what I mean about simple. Why am I even posting this?! Well to get to you excited as I am about real food and fresh recipes! This is what got me started on the path to eating and enjoying fresh local foods that are naturally gluten-free and great for you.

I hope you enjoy (again and again) and much love and life to you!