Updated: Feb 21, 2022
Growing up in the small town of Rehovot, I often joined my mom on her trip to the local shuk (open-air market). She would speed walk along the market paths, running back and forwards from one stall to another, greeting the vendors (she knew many of them by name), comparing the freshness and prices of goods. For me it was such a sensual experience with the hassle, the crowd, the selection of goods, the smells, and the vendors shouting aloud, showing off their offerings and competing for the shopper’s attention.
Later that day, in the small kitchen of our quiet apartment, we would prepare a vibrant, colorful, and flavorful salad using all the seasonal vegetables we brought with us from the market.
To this day, this salad (you may call it Israeli salad, Arabic salad, or chopped salad) is always present on our dining table, at any meal of the day, though it changes frequently depending on what vegetables are in season, what we have left in the fridge, what might grow in our garden, and what’s in our pantry (za’atar? Nuts? Seeds?). Fattoush salad, for instance, is a version of shuk salad with the addition of toasted leftovers pita, served with ground sumac (a spice). Some people prefer not to season the shuk salad at all, and instead dress it with liquid tahini sauce, and others like to top their shuk salad with dukkah (a nut, seed, and spice mix). Consider the recipe below a rough suggestion for the flavor profile, but there aren’t really any rules. For a classic salad, chop the vegetable dak-dak (Hebrew for “very fine” also mean evenly) into quarter-inch, season with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. betei’avon ve livriut! (Hebrew for Bon appetite and to good health)
2 cucumbers (peel cucumbers only if the skin is thick and bitter)
1 bell pepper (orange/yellow/red, or a combo)
1 small onion (yellow, or purple)
2 leaves of Romanian lettuce (or any other lettuce)
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, stem removed, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and ground pepper (about ¼ teaspoon of each)
Finley chopped all vegetables into quarter-inch and transfer to a serving bowl.
Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix till vegetables are well coated.
Serve this salad right away. If you must chop it ahead of time, keep the tomatoes in a separate bowl. Just before ready to serve drain excess liquid and mix with all other chopped vegetables, and toss with seasoning.