Wonderfully fresh-tasting and versatile, Israeli salad consists of finely chopped vegetables dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
You can serve it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner - it truly goes with anything. Even the leftovers are good, provided you finish them up within a day or two.
I grew up on this salad. Each night, mom served us dinner plates with a big pile of salad, a simple two-egg omelet, and a piece of rye bread topped with a fat slice of salty feta cheese. That was dinner almost every night.
My childhood dinner was nothing special. It was, in fact, very common. Israelis eat their main meal at lunchtime, so dinner is often a meatless meal of an Israeli salad and eggs. It's a delicious and filling meal and even now, after spending many years in the States, I love it.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty salad. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Cucumber: Ideally, you should use a seedless English cucumber in this salad. It's firm, less watery than a standard American cucumber, and its skin is delicate.
Tomatoes: Try to pick red tomatoes that are ripe but not too soft. Even if they're quite firm, you'll want to seed them (see me do it in the video below) or they'll release liquid into the salad.
Bell pepper: I use green bell pepper. Like all other veggies, it should be diced, or finely chopped. The classic recipe doesn't include peppers, but my mom always added them, so I do too.
Red onions: Make sure they are finely minced. The classic recipe uses yellow onions, but red onions are milder so I prefer them in a salad.
Parsley: Italian parsley or curly parsley - both work equally well.
Olive oil: Make sure to use high-quality oil. This is such a simple salad and the dressing is so basic, that it relies on a really good oil to taste good.
Lemon juice: Definitely use freshly squeezed lemon juice here, for the same reason I urge you to use good olive oil.
Salt and pepper: start with 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystel Kosher Salt or ½ teaspoon of any other salt. After mixing the salad, taste it and decide if you'd like to add more salt. It's best to use freshly ground black pepper if you can.
The only challenging part of this recipe is chopping the vegetables. You really do want them to be finely chopped or diced, and this takes time and patience. But the result is well worth it!
The detailed instructions for making this salad are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
Finely chop the vegetables, as shown in the video below.
In a large salad bowl, add the diced cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, and parsley. Gently mix to combine.
Pour the olive oil and lemon juice on top of the veggies. Sprinkle them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix again, then serve.
The secret to a truly good Israeli salad is to make sure the vegetables are finely chopped. This enables the dressing to coat the vegetables really well, and this is why this salad is so delicious.
It’s also important to use plenty of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. So while ¼ cup of oil seems like a lot, please use all of it. Remember, this salad will be divided into eight servings.
Frequently asked questions
It's a salad that consists of finely chopped vegetables. The main veggies included in this salad are cucumber, tomatoes, and onions. It's seasoned with fresh parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. This salad does not include lettuce.
Yes, but if you do, I suggest you remove the seeds (simply slice them off). The seeds will release too much liquid into the salad if you leave them on.
We seed the tomatoes because otherwise, they would release too much liquid into the salad. As mentioned above, the same goes for cucumbers, if you use American cucumbers.
You could, but that's very nontraditional. Back in Israel, I never encountered a salad made with cherry tomatoes. Not even once, and I had spent 28 years in Israel and have visited numerous times since relocating to the United States.
Having said that, recipes are all about making them your own... so if you prefer cherry tomatoes, by all means, feel free to use them!
The classic salad consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. My recipe already contains variations on the classic recipe because I add bell pepper and use red onions rather than yellow onions (they are milder so I prefer them).
You can vary this recipe as much as you'd like, but then it won't have that classic flavor that Israelis love so much. Having said that, here are a few ideas:
- Use different bell pepper colors
- Use green onions
- Use white wine vinegar instead of lemon juice
- Replace the parsley with cilantro
- Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese
- Add a pinch of garlic powder, cumin, and/or dried oregano
As mentioned above, as a kid, dinner every single night was this salad with an omelet and bread.
It’s also good for brunch – almost all Israeli restaurants and hotels serve it. And you can obviously serve it as a side dish at lunchtime as well.
You can keep the leftovers for up to 2 days in the fridge, in an airtight container. Unlike a lettuce-based salad, the veggies won’t wilt, but the salad’s flavor and texture will slowly deteriorate after about 24 hours in the fridge.
Pour out some of the accumulated juices and give it an extra mix before serving it.
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- 1 English cucumber diced (3 cups)
- 2 medium tomatoes seeded and diced (2 cups)
- 1 medium green bell pepper diced (1 cup)
- ¼ red onion minced (1 cup)
- ½ cup fresh parsley minced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from one large lemon)
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ½ teaspoon of fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Finely chop the vegetables, as shown in the video below.
- In a large salad bowl, add the diced cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, and parsley.
- Gently mix to combine.
- Pour the olive oil and lemon juice on top of the veggies. Sprinkle them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Mix again. Taste to see if you'd like to add more salt, then serve.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
- The secret to a truly good Israeli salad is to make sure the vegetables are finely chopped. This enables the dressing to coat the vegetables really well, and this is why this salad is so delicious.
- It’s also important to use plenty of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. So while ¼ cup of oil seems like a lot, please use all of it. Remember, this salad will be divided into eight servings.
- When chopping vegetables, curl your fingers inwards to protect them from the knife.