Every few months I become vegan for a month or so. Currently I’m in a vegan month: no meat, no chicken, no eggs, and no dairy products (as usual, for allergy reasons). And no meat/dairy substitutes. I hate all those soy/tofu products! I can only enjoy the real thing. Instead I eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Yes, I do look like a bird by the end of the month.
Usually the first two weeks are easy. There are endless vegetable dishes I can make. I have this magnificent book called Plenty, Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi – it’s all vegetable-based recipes. Written by Yotam Ottolonghi, an Israeli chef/restaurateur/food writer who lives in London, the book is highly recommended. When I go through the pages of this book I think to myself that I could easily become a vegetarian forever if not for my terrible craving for meat. I have nothing against meat if it’s organic and grass-fed, and eaten only once in a while, not every day. My body needs meat every now and then. No matter how much broccoli I eat or how many shots of wheat grass I drink, without meat my body feels weak, as if I’m about to faint. The best grass-fed meat in my opinion is sold at Whole Foods at a reasonable price.
This week I was enjoying all the vegetable dishes I cooked for my husband and me. (Both of my opinionated sons won’t eat cooked leafy greens and vegetables, such as chard and eggplant). Here are two yummy salads/dishes that I quickly made yesterday for lunch and served with quinoa. They can also be made as a side dish.
Here is the most popular salad among the children in my family, Saba Zion’s Salad. “Saba” means grandfather in Hebrew. My father, who is a brilliant cook and a master of seasoning, managed to make his grandchildren fall in love with raw vegetables.
It’s a marvelous sight to see a bunch of kids attacking a bowl of salad full of unusual vegetables as if it were a cookie jar. Then, after they gobble it up, they fight over the juice left in the bowl. The lemon in this salad plays a major role. Not only does it add lots of zesty, yummy flavor, it also pickles the vegetables a bit, softening them and giving them extra flavor. So if you don’t have a good lemon on hand, don’t bother to make this salad.
When Leo’s friends ask him what is so good about this salad, he says, “It’s sour and crunchy and awesome, all at the same time.”
My father prepares it with many different kinds of vegetables – bell peppers, cucumbers, fennel, kohlrabi, carrots, celery, radishes, cauliflower, turnips – but it can also be made with just one or two. I usually make it with fennel, kohlrabi and radishes. I also pack a small portion in a container or a zip-lock and add it to their lunch boxes as a snack or a side to the sandwich. It makes a great snack! Continue reading
I feel the global boiling everywhere, especially in my brain. It’s brutally hot, too murderously hot to function properly. It took me three days to fold the laundry and put it back, the kitchen was a constant mess, and my desk was invisible. I’m starting to think AC is not such a bad idea, even if it’s only for three weeks. My mother is so lucky, she left a few days before the melt down began. When she was here in July, the weather was gorgeous and cool. She constantly complained that she was cold until she jinxed it and left. Continue reading
Moroccan Jews have a big variety of cooked salads that are served like tapas, in small plates spread all over the dining table. My mother makes at least ten different cooked and raw salads for Shabat’s feast and for some jewish holidays but some of the salad she would never make during the week (Moroccans jews have strick rules about how to cook, when and how to serve, so when I tell my mother I made one of her shabat dishes on a weekday she is horrified). Continue reading
This was one of my favorite salads when I was a kid, and now it is one of my kids’ favorites. Honestly, all the kids I know love it. I prefer the small, firm Persian cucumbers because they taste much better and less watery than the bigger tasteless cucumbers; (the English cucumbers are good, too, but I think $2.99 each is a bit too much.) I serve it as a snack, or as a refreshing mini salad on the side with any sandwich. I also send it in a lunch box, but without the scallion – it gets stinky and mushy after one hour in a zip lock. By the way, there is a great Chinese restaurant in New York, Grand Sichuan (on 24th st. & 9th Ave), which serves an amazing cucumber salad, similar to this one, but with the scallion blended together with the dressing ingredients. Their cucumber salad is one of the best cucumber dish I ever had. Continue reading
I asked Leo and Alex why they like this salad very much and those are the answers I got:
Leo: Because I like super-mega-crunchy vegetables and also sour things.
Alex: I like it because it’s good and it also has a nice color.