Cucumber and then some
how to make israeli salad
Credit: Photo by Noam Galai via Getty Images

There’s something about the American breakfast palate that makes us want to eat dessert for breakfast, but I can’t say it's my cup of tea. I’m interested in dessert for dessert, and Israeli salad for breakfast. Crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and a zingy dressing of lemon and vinegar, Israeli salad is the dish that will make you jump out of bed and into the kitchen, because you just can’t wait any longer to eat. The fresh breakfast salad is a key part of a traditional Israeli breakfast, along with cheese, eggs, hummus, and smoked or pickled fish.

Begin with 1 pound of Persian cucumbers. However, if like me, you can never seem to find Persian cucumbers that aren’t placed on a styrofoam or plastic tray and then shrink-wrapped (a one-use plastic nightmare of gross proportions) just buy whatever variety of cucumber you find in the bins at the grocery store. The salad will still be good.

Dice the cucumbers along with ½ pound of tomatoes (I like using cherry or grape tomatoes because they tend to have less oozy innards, but again, make do with what is available to you at the store) and 1/2 a small red onion. Dump them into a large bowl along with ¾ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Toss this mixture with a few good pinches of kosher salt and several cracks of black pepper.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lemon, a hefty splash of white or red wine vinegar, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. At this point, I like to add ½ teaspoon or so red pepper flakes, though they may not be classic to this dish.

Toss the dressing with the vegetables, taste, and add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice or white vinegar as needed. Let the salad sit for 10 minutes, then serve.

I think Israeli salad goes especially well with poached eggs and a swipe of labne (or Greek yogurt in a pinch) and a hunk of tangy feta cheese (you could also make a pita sandwich with these ingredients). If you don’t want to eat eggs but do want protein, this dish goes really well with chickpeas. I’ll leave the rest up to you.