Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Israeli Breakfast: Colorful, Wholesome and Delicious
Very different from the American breakfast, the classic Israeli breakfast is created from fresh vegetables and produce: an Israeli salad (finely chopped fresh vegetables), scrambled or fried eggs, cottage or white soft cheese, and fresh bread.
Most cafes and restaurants in Israel offer an extended version of this morning treat. Many times they offer a wide variety of self produced delights that accompany the classic breakfast, including olives, marinated fish, soft cheeses (labneh, cottage, cream cheese, or white soft cheese), butter, assorted breads and rolls, jams and different breakfast “tapas” like tuna salad or avocado. Of course these breakfasts include freshly squeezed juices and espresso drinks.
The latest trend in many of Tel Aviv’s hip cafes is to serve these breakfasts throughout the day, allowing time for late-night party-goers to sleep in and still get their daily fix of eggs.
If you search for the best breakfast in Israel, the locals will probably direct you to the north of the country to one of the pastoral bed and breakfasts, locally known as “zimmers” (German word for “room”).
The zimmers are family establishments, usually located in the most beautiful hidden corners of Israel’s nature. Based entirely on self-grown products from the family farm, the breakfast is the pride and tradition of these family businesses.
Below is a very simple recipe of the most important component in the Israeli breakfast – the Israeli salad. Many times, the Israeli salad is also served at dinner as a side to grilled meat or as a main dish in a light summer supper.
In order to make a great salad, make sure to use the freshest and most flavorful vegetables available. Also, keep the vegetables at room temperature, since refrigeration damages their flavor and texture. If you keep your vegetables in the refrigerator, take them out an hour before you begin preparing the salad.
4 ripe tomatoes
4 unpeeled Israeli seedless and crunchy cucumbers (also sold in NYC groceries as “Persian cucumbers”)
1 small red onion
1 bell pepper, red or green
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro
1. Dice all the vegetables fine and neat. Use a very sharp knife to avoid mashing the vegetables.
2. Chop the fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, chives or even mint – depends on your taste) and add to the vegetables in the bowl.
3. Squeeze lemon juice.
4. Sprinkle virgin olive oil.
5. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything together.
6. Serve promptly.
Fresh bread… to mob up the irresistible juices left at the bottom of the bowl :)