Israeli Salad with Za'atar garnished with sesame seeds, in a white speckled serving bowl with a blue rim. The background is a wooden surface with a purple gauzy fabric under the serving bowl

Israeli Salad with Za’atar

In honor of a new chapter in Israeli government, this recipe incorporates all of the beautiful flavors that normally come in an Israeli salad, like cucumber, tomato, red onion, and parsley with olive oil, lemon, and kosher salt. Additionally, it also utilizes za’atar, a spice blend that highlights the Biblical spice by the same name that grows in Israeli Salad with Za’atar. Most traditionally, Israeli za’atar is made using the za’atar the herb (otherwise known as hyssop), which grows in the rocky Israeli soil. For za’atar to be truly authentic, it must have hyssop listed as an ingredient, so be sure to look for it in the list of ingredients before you buy it (some blends use dried thyme or marjoram to mimic the hyssop).

In addition to hyssop, za’atar is made with sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt. There are za’atar blends that hail from different cultures as well, such as the Lebanese, Jordanian, and Turkish versions that all use slightly different ingredients, such as nuts, thyme, coriander, and cumin. In the salad, the za’atar provides an amazing body that just can’t be matched with any other spice blend. One bite of this vibrant and fresh salad, and you’ll be transported straight to the Shuk!

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Begin by dicing the tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. Finely chop the parsley (leaves and tender stems only).

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomato, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley (reserving a pinch or two for garnish). Toss well to combine. Taste the salad and add salt and pepper to your liking. Taste again and adjust accordingly (if it’s too salty, add more lemon juice and/or a pinch of sugar).

Add the za’atar and mix well. Let the flavors meld at room temperature while you toast the sesame seeds.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring every 30-60 seconds, until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from the skillet and cool.

Raw Sesame Seeds

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or plate, and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and remaining parsley.

Israeli Salad with Za'atar garnished with sesame seeds, in a white speckled serving bowl with a blue rim. The background is a wooden surface with a purple gauzy fabric under the serving bowl

Israeli Salad with Za’atar

Becca Gallick-Mitchell
This recipe incorporates all of the beautiful flavors that normally come in an Israeli salad, and then adds just a couple more to make it really Israeli. One bite of this vibrant and fresh salad, and you'll be transported straight to the Shuk!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Cooling Time 5 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Israeli, Jewish
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes
  • 4 mini cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber)
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • ½ Tbsp za'atar
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (a quality one, if possible)
  • ½ Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional), for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Dice the tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. Finely chop the parsley (leaves and tender stems only).
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomato, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley (reserving a pinch or two for garnish). Toss well to combine.
  • Taste the salad and add salt and pepper to your liking. Taste again and adjust accordingly (if it's too salty, add more lemon juice and/or a pinch of sugar).
  • Add the za'atar and mix well. Let the flavors meld at room temperature while you toast the sesame seeds.
  • Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring every 30-60 seconds, until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from the skillet and cool.
  • Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or plate, and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and remaining parsley.
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