Israeli Chopped Salad packed with tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs, and a delicious lemon dressing for a healthy, refreshing side dish.
Israeli Salad is one of those dishes that I make on repeat all year long. I love all the crunchy veggies and the fact that it will last in the fridge for a couple of days. Plus it's a salad that everyone in my family will eat without complaint, that's a big win around here. Even my 1 year old happily eats it, red onions and all.
Normally we like to serve this alongside some delicious Chicken Shawarma, Kofta, or Mediterranean Meatballs. However, it will taste good with almost anything, Mediterranean inspired or not. We love it with grilled chicken, fish, steak, or chickpeas.
On to the salad! Now when it comes to Israeli salads there are lots of opinions on exactly what should and shouldn't be added. Some people are purists and believe it should only have the basics - cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. Other add in all sorts of extras like diced bell peppers, red onion, fresh herbs, and spices like sumac or za'tar. Personally, I fall somewhere in between and can't help but add some red onion, fresh mint, and fresh dill. So good.
When it comes to Israeli salad, the cucumber you choose really makes a difference. Ideally, you want to use Persian cucumbers, which have thin edible skin and are almost seedless. They add the most crunch and hold up the best in my opinion. A close second option is the English or Hothouse cucumber, which also works great in this salad.
If you can't find either of these cucumbers, you can opt for a regular cucumber but make sure to take these steps first. First, you will want to peel the cucumber since the skin is generally thick and waxy. Then scoop out the seeds since they add too much moisture to the salad. Lastly, if your cucumber is extremely moist, sprinkle it with salt and let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes before adding it to the salad. This will help is stay crunchy.
How to Make Israeli Salad
Israeli salad is one of those recipes that everyone makes but each family has their own specific preparation. It can be served as a salad, a side dish, or a condiment and can be traced back to Turkish, Palestinian, and Persian roots. Each country makes its own variation but every good Israeli Salad has the following ingredients:
- Persian cucumbers
- Red Onion
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
From there, there are lots of extras that you can add. Fresh chopped parsley is popular and some people like to add some chopped mint as well. Spices like sumac are sometimes added and some people like to add a crunchy red pepper. I have even seen variations with chopped dill pickles. Delicious, by the way.
To make Israeli, start by dicing the vegetables into small pieces. Since it is often used as a condiment, its important that the pieces are small. Then liberally toss the veggies with good quality olive oil, lots of lemon juice, salt, and pepper. That's basically it.
Recipe Ideas for Israeli Salad
- Everything is better with feta cheese so why not add some to this salad. I usually reach for 1/2-1 cup of reduced-fat feta cheese since it is lower in calories but full fat works great as well.
- Looking for protein? Add a can of drained chickpeas or some leftover grilled chicken. To make it a meal, double the serving size so you are getting plenty of yummy veggies.
- Bell peppers are amazing in this salad with their sweet crunch. Add a chopped red or yellow bell pepper to the mix for even more tasty crunch.
- Missing croutons? My cousin can't eat a salad without some kind of crouton. Instead of reaching for a traditional crouton, break up some baked pita chips into smaller pieces and toss them into the salad.
- Want a thicker dressing? Consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of tahini or Greek yogurt to the dressing for a creamier salad. The tahini adds a delicious sesame flavor and the yogurt adds some tanginess.
- To make a heartier salad, add in some couscous or barley. The barley makes it feel like a tabbouleh mash-up, which I absolutely love.
How long does Israeli Salad last?
Technically speaking, Israeli salad will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge but it is best eaten within 1-2 days. After too much time, the vegetables start to get soggy and break down. If you know you will need it to last longer, store the dressing separately and dress the salad right before serving. For extra freshness, store the chopped vegetables with a paper towel or tea towel to absorb any extra moisture.
Looking for things to serve with this yummy salad?
Here are some of the tools I used to help me prepare this dish.
- Add some spices: As I mentioned previously, adding sumac or za'tar to your salad can really kick it up a notch and make it a special dish. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that has a sour flavor. It can be strong, so add it sparingly to start. Za'tar is a spice blend that contains thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. It's herbal and delicious and is not only delicious in this salad but makes an amazing spice rub for grilled meats and veggies.
- Citrus juicer: I can't live without my citrus juicer since we put lemon and lime on almost everything. I use this handheld version and its the first one that has held up for years after constant use.
- Glass Mixing Bowls with Lids: Since this salad will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge (longer without dressing), I always keep it in these Pyrex glass bowls with lids. I use them for everything and love that I can make and store the salad in the same dish.
Israeli Chopped Salad
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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