Here at That Salad Lady, we’re huge fans of Mediterranean cuisine. That’s why we’ve put our own spin on the classic Israeli Salad. Known as “Salata Arabieh” in Palestinian cuisine and “Salat Katzutz” in Israeli cuisine, the salad itself evolved from a popular Turkish chopped salad called “Çoban Salatası” (Turkish for “Shepherd’s Salad”) and is a common feature at restaurants, cafes and buffets across the Middle East.
Whatever you choose to call the salad it’s definitely one to include in your healthy recipe arsenal. Naturally gluten-free, vegetarian and low in carbs, That Salad Lady’s “Fresh and Simple Israeli Salad with Feta” is an easy-to-make and easy-to-take dish that’s perfect for a quick meal at home and practically any potluck, cookout or gathering.
THE BALANCING ACT
If you’re familiar with Mediterranean cuisine you already know that it includes lots of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), is another Mediterranean staple known for its rich content of healthy monounsaturated fats. Both alone and in combination, EVOO and plant-based foods are especially beneficial in the prevention and treatment of a wide range of chronic diseases including heart disease and various cancers.
In keeping with tradition, our Israeli Salad encompasses many of these foods including:
- A rich combination of deeply colored fresh layers like tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber and onions.
- High-quality feta cheese for rich, tangy flavor, pleasant texture and quality protein.
- An EVOO-based dressing spiked with fresh lemon juice and garlic for even more nutrition.
Knowing that every single layer of our Israeli Salad is nutritionally beneficial, it’s a guilt-free bowl you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Best of all, it requires absolutely no cooking and comes together in just 15 minutes (maybe even less).
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into all the layers in this bowl recipe and why we chose to include them.
Classic Israel Salad Staples
As we’ve already mentioned, our recipe starts out with layers upon layers of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumber. We love the garden-fresh taste and meaty texture of Roma tomatoes but feel free to use whatever tomatoes you have – all red tomatoes are equally nutritious and rich in lycopene (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more). Then there are the bell peppers and cucumbers, which give the blend plenty of crispy, crunchy texture.
We suggest using red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers. Compared to green, these contain the most phytonutrients and antioxidants. Though not as deeply colored or nutritionally dense as tomatoes and bell peppers, cucumber brings its own unique set of antioxidants to the bowl. Our recipe specifically calls for using English cucumber but slicing (or regular) and Persian cucumbers also work, the latter of which stays true to the classic recipe.
Finally, our recipe calls for a combination of red and green onions, as they deliver different flavors and nutrition. Green onions for instance bring a nice mild bite to the bowl and deliver good doses of carotenoids and vitamin K, while red onions are sweet in flavor and contain the most health-promoting antioxidants of all types.
A Tangy Punch of Protein
Because a bowl just isn’t a bowl without some protein, our recipe calls for feta cheese. Feta itself brings a uniquely tangy, slightly salty flavor to the bowl. It’s also a valuable source of calcium and packed with beneficial probiotics that support gut health. If you follow a vegan or dairy-free diet, you can certainly leave the feta out. We promise you’ll still have an enjoyable eating experience. But if your diet is more all-inclusive, by all means, leave it in.
Antioxidants Galore for the Finish
Staying true to the classic Israel Salad we dress the layers in a light, simple and deliciously tangy blend of EVOO and lemon juice, which delivers a hefty dose of good fat and disease-fighting antioxidants. We also include the rich, savory flavors of freshly minced garlic. Both an allium vegetable and an herb, garlic contains a unique cocktail of phytonutrients that boast powerful antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Our recipe specifically calls for freshly minced garlic. This is because the effects of garlic our most pronounced when it’s freshly crushed or cut. While you can use jarred minced garlic as a “shortcut,” we don’t recommend doing this. Besides the fact that it technically isn’t “fresh,” jarred versions tend to have “off” flavors, which’ll be detectable in your finished dressing.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
Since no cooking is required for our recipe, most of the prep work is in the chopping. As always, using a good chef’s knife will make the process a whole lot easier. We suggest chopping the tomato, bell peppers, cucumber and red onion in one take and then mixing it all together. From there, just let the mixture chill in the fridge until you’re ready to build your bowl – you can even store it overnight.
Green onions taste better when freshly cut so we suggest chopping those up just prior to eating or serving the salad.
Once you’ve prepared the fresh layers, you can then gather the ingredients for the dressing. Simply add them all to a jar with a twist off lid and just shake it up until everything’s well-mixed. You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl. If you’re planning to eat or serve the salad right away, you can simply add each of the ingredients directly to the bowl of fresh layers and mix everything well.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
If you’re not planning to eat or serve the salad right away, it’s best not to “dress” it until you’re actually ready. The dressing can cause the fresh layers to get a bit soggy. If you’re planning for leftovers, you won’t be as happy with your creation the next day. When you’re ready to build your bowl, simply stir in the dressing to taste. You can then chop up the greens onions and add them to your dressed salad.
Top of the finished blend with chunks or sprinkles of feta cheese (if using). You can also use fresh parsley, basil or cilantro for garnish. All put together, the actual blend is large enough for 4-6 good-sized servings.
Add Your Finishing Touches
The Israeli Salad is commonly served as a side dish or stuffed in a pita with falafel. To boost the protein content and overall filling effect of your Israel Salad bowl throw in a handful of cooked chicken, salmon or shrimp. For a 100% vegan bowl, try That Salad Lady’s baked tofu or roasted chickpeas. Visit our Nutrition Glossary for more ideas, as it’s all about making YOU confident in building YOUR bowl.
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.