Friday, August 6, 2010

the perfect israeli salad

while in law school, i worked in an israeli-owned restaurant. the owner was, to put it nicely, a perfectionist. the kitchen was by far the cleanest i'd ever worked in - you could practically eat off the floor. the food was tasty and the salads were divine.

the kitchen would prep for hours - dicing each component of the salads into perfect squares. cucumbers were put through a french fry cutter and then cut into even squares. the israeli salad was my favorite. i was lucky enough to get the exact directions on making the salad from the owner.

the proportions below make a salad for one. the salad is best served right away - you don't really want it as a leftover.

1 cup kirby cucumber - seeded and evenly diced into 2cm squares
1/2 cup roma tomato - seeded and evenly diced into 2cm squares
1 tablespoon white onion - diced
1 tablespoon fresh dill - chopped
1 teaspoon parsley - chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil (never olive oil - it is too heavy for this salad)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

toss all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

squash, fennel & leek gratin

in those last dreary months of winter, i longingly think of summer and of all the fresh abundance that the season produces. now, summer and all of its glory is upon us. its been a hot steamy summer, and as a result i'm drowning (in a good way) in summer squash from my csa.

last week when, in addition to squash, i received leeks and fennel, my thoughts wandered to a lovely potato and fennel gratin a friend had made for me years ago. i thought, why not switch the potatoes out for squash? the result was yummy.

1 lb summer squash (any variety) - sliced
1 medium fennel bulb - thinly sliced
2 leeks, sliced and lightly sauteed in butter
1/2 cup parmesan - grated
1 egg
3/4 cup milk (or cream if you want to be decadent)
1/4 - 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon butter
salt and pepper

lightly grease a shallow baking dish and place a single layer of squash on the bottom of the pan. sprinkle the first layer with 1/3 of the cheese and add salt and pepper. layer the fennel and leeks, and top with cheese and salt and pepper. add top layer of squash, top with remainder of cheese. combine egg and milk and lightly whisk together. pour mixture over the veggies and lightly spread breadcrumbs to the top. dot the top of the bread crumbs with small bits of butter.

bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes until set.