The “I can make it better at home” Cauliflower Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

One of my pet peeves is going to a restaurant and being charged a ridiculous amount for a dish that I know I can make just as well, if not better, myself at home. Case in point: I recently ate out at a very trendy little Tel Aviv restaurant near Carmel Market where portions were small and prices were inversely proportional. One of the little dishes that arrived at the table was a roasted cauliflower side, with a blob of tehina and some fresh tomato sauce on top. It was delicious, but for the price, it infuriated me. I was paying the price of a main course at any other good restaurant for a few small florets of cauliflower, very simply cooked and served. For that price I could have bought about 10 heads of cauliflower at my local expensive supermarket.

So with thoughts of  the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe urban legend at the back of my mind, I decided to replicate the dish at home, and share the recipe. The fact is that unlike a cookie recipe, it’s not very difficult to figure out what went into the over-priced side dish. This is such a simple dish that you’ll be making it whenever you entertain, and it won’t be very expensive, and this isn’t an urban legend.



1 large head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets, washed and dried

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Ground kosher salt

¼ cup of tehina paste

Cold water

1 clove of garlic crushed

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

3 large very ripe tomatoes

How to do it

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)
  2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and drizzle the olive oil evenly over the surface. Toss the florets through the olive oil so that they are coated lightly and grind the salt over the cauliflower.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, then give the cauliflower a stir around so it bakes evenly. Bake for another 5 minutes or just until starting to yield when you stick a fork into a piece. Don’t overcook the cauliflower or it will be mushy. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Mix the tehina paste with the lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, and add the water slowly until you get to a slightly runny consistency – you don’t want it too watery – but it should flow off the spoon. Set aside.
  5. Wash the tomatoes and chop each one into about 8 pieces (no need to peel them). Place them in a food processor with a pinch or two of salt and process them until you have an even sauce (do not liquify). Set aside.
  6. Assemble the dish on a platter. First the cauliflower, then drizzle the tehina over the cauliflower and end off with the tomato sauce drizzled over the tehina. You can put as much of the sauces as you want.

Serve at room temperature. Serves about 8 as a side dish or salad.


The Yellow Salad that isn’t Yellow

Sometimes you find good food in the most unlikely places. This is the story of such a dish, a salad to be exact, that I found in the most unlikely of places – a small gas station convenience store called Yellow.

I was rushing around one day, and coming from Jerusalem and on my way to Petah Tikvah, with no time for food in between. I was hungry and needed sustenance. The only place for miles was a Yellow store at a gas station. On the shelf, between the sandwiches was a small salad that looked like it may not kill me. That’s just about all I could hope for at that point – this was a gas station after all. So I bought it, closed my eyes, and started eating. This one one of the best surprises, and a real “don’t judge a book by its cover” or in this case, “don’t judge a salad by its surrounding” moment.

It was fresh, tasty and most of all, an original combination of salad ingredients that prompted me to recreate it that very week. So while I call this my Yellow Salad, it’s really a couscous based salad with a lot of added, tasty ingredients.



1 500g (1lb) bag of instant couscous – large grain

1 cup finely shredded red cabbage

2-3 small cucumbers finely cubed

1 cup of garden peas (I recommend frozen)

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

¾ cup dried cranberries

2 stalk of fresh celery finely chopped


½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

A dash of garlic powder or granulated garlic

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

How to do it

  1. Prepare the couscous according to the instructions on the bag. Allow the prepared couscous to cool down to room temperature. (You can prepare this the day before as well, but it doesn’t take very long)
  2. Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the couscous and mix.
  3. Shake the dressing ingredients together well and pour over the salad. Allow the salad to sit for a few hours before serving. If you are keeping it in the fridge, remove the salad about half an hour before you serve it so it isn’t too cold.

Serves about 8.

Welcome Summer with an Italian Inspired Salad

Finally! Summer seems to have broken through the grip of the nasty winter. This means a return to colder food, and of course, salads are on the menu.

I recently had to prepare a filling dish that was easy to transport. Nothing like a good old pasta salad to fit this bill. Bored with my regulars, I decided to come up with something new, pretty much hauling out whatever was in my fridge, and it worked!

I was so inspired by the colors of my favorite country in the world to visit – Italy. The red, white and green are covered by the pasta and zfatit cheese (white); roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes (red); and rocket and basil (green). With a few additional colors abd tastes to round out the flavor, this salad is just yummy, and looks great on a table. You can also adjust the quantities of the vegetables and cheese according to your own preferences.



500 g (1lb) penne pasta (or any other sturdy noodle)

1-2 cups of roasted pepper pieces (if you’re in a hurry, you can used bottled roasted peppers, or for a more tasty option, roast them yourself – click here for the “how to”).

200 g (7 oz) Tzfatit cheese cut into small cubes (I recommend the Meshek Tzuriel brand – very creamy) If you can’t get Tzfatit, use a very mild feta cheese. For the parev version, just omit the cheese.

½ cup of chopped black olives (I buy the pre-cut olives – saves tons of time)

¾ cup corn kernels

About 15 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

A large handful of rocket leaves

A small handful of fresh basil leaves chopped


¾ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 heaped teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

How to do it

1. Roast the peppers (if you’re not buying). You can prepare them ahead of time and refrigerate. Cut the peeled roasted peppers into small pieces.

2. Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box. When you drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to cool down quickly and set aside. Rinsing also stops the pasta from sticking together.

3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, peppers and all the rest of the ingredients and gently toss.

4. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad and mix

Serves about 12 as a side dish.



Something Healthy, Something Asian

Seaweed Salad

One of my favorite dishes to order when we get takeout sushi is seaweed salad. I love the flavor combination and I adore the taste of seaweed. And, it turns out, wakame, the edible seaweed used in this salad, is really good for you – while it’s a little high on sodium, it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of Vitamins A, C, E, K, Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and more (check out the nutritional low-down here).

After the 5,000th time I ordered this salad, I decided that it was time to make it myself. Turns out that the recipes online didn’t quite square up to what I was used to eating and enjoying, so I created my own. You can buy wakame today in most large supermarkets and specialty food stores in Israel in the Asian sections. It comes in 40g and 100g bags. For this recipe, I use 40g. Don’t be alarmed when you see the raw product – it looks like there’s very little in the bag, but once you add water, it expands like crazy in a few minutes. You can also add tofu to make it a really nutritious meal.

While there are a few steps to making this salad, none of them take very much time, and from start to finish this salad takes about 20 minutes to throw together, depending on how many ingredients you add. My recipe has a few options for ingredients, but add whatever you enjoy, just make sure they are crunchy veggies and that they are very thinly sliced so they suck in all that dressing flavor. I’ve made this several times in the past few weeks, and I am addicted.




1/3 cup Asian rice vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons Mirin (optional)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon minced garlic


100g (3½ oz) thin rice noodles

40 g (1½ oz) dried wakame

3 small cucumbers (Israeli) peeled and very thinly sliced

2 small red peppers very thinly sliced

A large handful of bean sprouts

(Optional) About 100g (4 oz) firm tofu (add the amount according to your taste)

How to do it

1. Add the noodles to a saucepan of boiling water and stir. Bring the water to the boil and let the noodles cook for 1-2 minutes. Taste them and just as they have softened, remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Tip: I break the noodles into shorter strands so they’re easier to eat.

2. Place the dried wakame in a medium-sized bowl, fill with cold water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then drain well, squeezing out any excess water. The wakame will more or less quadruple in size.

3.  If you are using tofu, cut into into small cubes and marinade it in the dressing for at least an hour before you assemble the salad.

4. Mix the wakame, noodles and all the vegetables (and tofu) in a salad bowl, and add the dressing, mixing it all through well. Allow the salad to sit for at least 2 hours before serving – the longer it sits, the better the flavors will be. This salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Serves about 8.

Middle East Take on Quinoa Salad and Stuffed Mini Peppers

Middle Eastern Quinoa Salad

Middle Eastern Quinoa Salad

While the debate about Quinoa’s knitniyot status continues to rage on, I would like to encourage you all to make the most of this wonderful source of protein, which is an edible seed that is related to vegetables such as beets and spinach, because next year it may be off the table for Ashkenazim.

Here’s a really great way to use quinoa in a salad and make it very Mediterranean in flavor. Tabbouleh salad is very popular round these parts. Personally, I’m not a big fan of bulgar, so I don’t make this. By substituting quinoa for bulgar, not only do you make this salad kosher for Pesach, you also, in my opinion, make it a lot tastier.

After making this salad, I then threw some mini red peppers into the oven to roast, and stuffed them with the salad as a really pretty and delicious starter. Israeli supermarkets and green grocers have been flooded lately with these wonderful mini red peppers, which are sweet and crunchy, and great to snack on. I took some of the bigger ones to roast and stuff, and it’s a hit. It is a little finicky, but work around the table was that it’s worth it.


Roasted mini peppers stuffed with quinoa salad

Roasted mini peppers stuffed with quinoa salad


1 cup raw quinoa

½ red onion very finely chopped

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes very finely chopped

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 cup of chopped fresh parsley

½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (optional)

Juice of half a lemon

About ¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it

1. Preparing the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under running cold water for about 2 minutes. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan, and add the strained quinoa, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to the boil, and turn down the heat to low. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the water has cooked away (I always check after it’s been cooking for about 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook.) Turn off the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Allow to cool completely.

2. Soak the chopped onion in a bowl of cold water for a minute or two – this will eliminate the very pungent flavor and mellow the onion a bit. Strain.

3. Place the cooled quinoa into a medium-sized bowl and add the vegetables and herbs. Mix through.

4. Dress with the lemon, oil, salt and pepper, and mix. Taste and add more of any of the dressing ingredients to taste.

Serves about 6.

Mini Peppers

Mini Peppers



20-24 large mini red peppers

About one third of the salad

How to do it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Slit the peppers from top to bottom

Slit the peppers from top to bottom

2. Wash and dry the peppers, do not remove the stalks. Using a small serrated knife, cut a slit down the length of the pepper leaving just a few millimeters at the top and at the bottom.

3. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and grease it with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the peppers on the baking tray and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. Then turn the peppers over and roast for another 10 minutes or until the peppers start taking on dark brown patches. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Roasted mini peppers

Roasted mini peppers

4. Using a very small teaspoon, stuff some of the quinoa mixture into each pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Serves about 4.

The 10-minute Asian pasta salad

Last week I promised to post the easiest cold Asian pasta salad I make, which goes really well with Chicken Satay. Then the storm set in and I posted warm dishes instead. Now our regular sunny winter is back and it’s time to keep my promise because making sold salad no longer seems ridiculous in this weather.

This pasta salad is really the quickest you can imagine. In the time it takes to cook the pasta (which is usually around 10 minutes, hence the headline), you prepare everything else and it’s done. You can use regular spaghetti – number 3 works well – or you can use egg noodles. Both will come out equally well. You can add any additional vegetables you want. I make it plain because the kids love it that way, but this is a really good base for whatever you want to add.


Quick Asian Pasta Salad

Quick Asian Pasta Salad


500 g (1 lb) spaghetti (#3) or egg noodles (Note: The egg noodles usually come in 400 g packages, so just use the same quantities of dressing – it won’t be a problem)


3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar or rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

a few drops of sesame oil

1 teaspoon mirin (optional)

Optional vegetables (use all or any if desired)

3 green onion chopped

1 small red pepper sliced and halved

½ small red onions thinly sliced

½ cup cooked corn kernels

1 medium carrot julienned or very thinly sliced

1 stick celery thinly sliced

How to do it

1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the package (do not overcook). Drain and rinse with cold water until the noodles reach room temperature.

2. While the pasta is cooking, mix all the dressing ingredients till combined.

3. Toss the dressing through the pasta and add the vegetables if desired.

Serves about 6.

The Mexican Corn Salad I Discovered on Kibbutz

Sharon’s Mexican Corn Salad

I met my friend Sharon on my day of arrival in Israel in January 1989. We were both starting a kibbutz ulpan, and we hit it off right away. We managed to stay in touch on and off through the years, and now that she lives back on kibbutz with her husband (who she met on kibbutz) and kids, we are regularly in touch. Theyrecently hosted us for lunch on the patio of their new house, overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Sitting in the fresh sea air gave us all a hearty appetite, so it was just as well that she whipped up a gorgeous lunch. One of the highlights was a crunchy, fresh Mexican corn salad. I couldn’t stop eating it, and took recipe instructions from Sharon before I left (as well as permission to publish here).

I love corn, and when you combine it with red pepper, red onion and fresh coriander, it’s a pretty as a picture and just as good to eat. I used fresh corn that I boiled and cut off the cob. In spite of being a powerhouse of fresh, gorgeous fruit and vegetables, Israel has not quite come to grips with growing good corn. Trips to North America have educated me as to how fresh corn should really taste, and unfortunately, Israel’s just not there. So for those of you living in Israel, I recommend using frozen corn, which is generally much tastier than its fresh counterpart. For those of you who live in countries like the US and Canada, where fresh corn is a dream, please go fresh with this recipe.

Thanks Sharon!



About 3-4 cups corn (fresh will be from about 6-8 ears)

1 small red onion quartered and sliced

2 red peppers chopped or about ¾ cup of roasted peppers sliced

3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime or 1 small lemon

¼ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it

1. For fresh corn, boil the corn until it’s cooked. Allow to cool and then run a sharp large knife down the sides of the corn, as close to the husk as possible, to slice the kernels off. For frozen, defrost using boiling water and drain when soft.

2. Mix the corn, onion, pepper, and cilantro in a bowl.

3. Whisk the lime/lemon juice, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and allow to sit for a while before serving. This salad can be made a day in advance. The flavors are enhanced when the salad sits overnight.

Serves about 8.

A very summery salad: baby potato, tomato, asparagus

Roasted Baby Potato, Cherry Tomato and Asparagus Salad

Oh, summer! It’s the season where creative salads can take the place of hot vegetables as side dishes, and make a table look wonderfully colorful and bright.

At the start of the summer, I glanced at a recipe for a potato salad with a difference in a newspaper or magazine, and then I promptly forgot where I read it. So I decided to put together my own version and include some of my favorite summer additions. My salad is a roasted baby potato and cherry tomato salad with blanched asparagus in a red onion vinaigrette. It’s a wonderful salad that raises the level of the old fashioned potato salad and adds lots of color and flavor. My recipe is for the full version, where you oven roast the potatoes and the cherry tomatoes. But you can also boil the potatoes instead (although I highly recommend the roasted version as the potatoes emerge form the oven with a sweetness you can never achieve in a pot of boiling water), and you can use sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (again, I recommend the home made version which is a little more work but the flavor is just wonderful).

The oven roasted/dried tomatoes are a really wonderful ingredient, and so versatile. You can use them standalone as a great addition to a brunch table, with cheeses and breads – they’re delicious on fresh bread with any kind of cream cheese. You can also add some cubed feta or Bulgarian cheese and thinly sliced red onion and serve them as a salad. This is also a great way to generate amazing flavor out of cherry or small vine tomatoes that have no taste (it happens sometimes.) When I buy tomatoes that are tasteless I always oven dried them. This draws out their flavor and it’s really amazing to taste the difference.




Olive oil

About 1 kg (2 lb) baby/new potatoes unpeeled and washed

About 500g (1 lb) cherry or small vine tomatoes sliced in half

Salt and pepper

1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 20 spears) with the ends snapped off*

A handful of chopped fresh parsley


1 whole head of garlic (roasted)

1 small red onion or half a red onion

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it

Potatoes all roasted and sweet with garlic for company

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and sprinkle it with olive oil. Place the potatoes on the tray along with the head of garlic. Roast in the oven for about an hour, stirring after about half an hour. When the potatoes have browned a little and a fork slides very easily through one, they are ready. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into bite sized chunks – not too small.

3. Turn the heat up to 220°C (430°F).

4. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and sprinkle it with olive oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the paper. Sprinkle them with some salt and pepper and roast them for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven.

Oven roasted/dried tomatoes

5. Lower the temperature of the oven to 150°C (300°F) and continue to roast them for another 30-45 minutes or until they have shriveled to about half their size (don’t et them burn – when they start turning a brown color, it’s time to take them out). Allow to cool.

6. Bring water to a boil in a large pot (make sure the pot is wide enough for the asparagus to lie in fully submerged. Add some salt when the water starts boiling. Add the asparagus to the boiling water. Boil for no more than 2 minutes from the time the asparagus hit the water. Remove the asparagus and plunge them into a bowl of ice water (this keeps the green color from fading and stops the cooking process immediately so the asparagus remain crunchy). Drain. Cut into bite sized pieces.

Asparagus snapped to get rid of the hard bits

Now you have all the components of the salad cooked, it’s time to make the dressing.

7. Place the red onion, cut into smaller chunks, in a food processor, and process it using the large chopping blade. Then add the rest of the dressing ingredients and the roasted garlic cloves and blend till combined. Mix together will all the salad ingredients and serve.

Waiting for the dressing

Note: You can easily adjust the quantities in this recipe for a larger salad. Double the dressing quantities and keep the leftovers for another day.

*The way to remove the hard ends of fresh asparagus is simply to take the spear of asparagus in both hands and bend until it snaps. Where it breaks is the point where the spear becomes hard. Discard the hard ends. (You can snap a few at a time).

Back to normal eating with a delicious couscous salad

It’s time to get back into a routine after the excitement of Yom Ha’atzmaut. Like most Israelis, we ate a lot of meat last week. So for my first recipe of this week, I thought I’d go meatless with a vegetarian couscous salad. As summer approaches, this is a great recipe for the seasonal repertoire. It works well as a side-dish that you can make a day before and serve on Shabbat re-heating. It’s also a really simple standby recipe that’s great to make when you have vegetarians over as it’s really filling.

Couscous vegetable salad

For this one, I use the instant couscous because it’s hardier than the home-made version, and it’s also a lot quicker to prepare. Make sure you buy the heavy couscous, which will stand up to being kept in the refrigerator and won’t get mushy.You can also improvise with the vegetables – these are my favorites for this recipe, but you can have lots of fun adding your favorite vegetables as well.



1 350g (12 oz) bag heavy couscous

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium carrots finely diced (a fine dice means that the slice should be about 2 mm wide at most – the width about 5 mm)

2 sticks celery diced

1 large onion chopped

2 red peppers chopped

1 cup frozen or canned corn

4-5 cloves of garlic crushed

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

A dash of cumin (optional)

How to do it

1. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet.

Sauteed vegetables for the salad

2. Add the onions, carrots, celery and red peppers and saute until they are just softening (about 4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and stir.

3. Add the corn, parsley and other spices and saute until the corn is thawed.

4. Prepare the couscous according to the instructions on the bag. Make sure to toss the couscous through with a fork once it’s done.

5. Mix the couscous and the vegetables together.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Serves about 8.

Eggplant Made Simple

The way I see it, eggplant is to Israeli cuisine what herring is to Eastern European Jewish cooking. What am I on about? When I was growing up, my mother was the queen of herring, and prepared this salty fish in so many different ways: Pickled herring, Danish Herring (in a mustardy sauce), Russian Herring (in tomato sauce), pineapple herring (yes indeed, in a cream sauce!), chopped herring (that Jewish party favorite, served with kichel), and, horror of horrors, baked herring, or as it was known in our house “gebakte herring” – an awful herring-based meat loaf that couldn’t easy double as an instrument of torture. Baked herring was without doubt one of the main culprits in Eastern European Jewish cooking never quite making it as one the the world’s great cuisines. I can still smell the stench of the baking herring permeating through the house…

While my folk spent many an hour dreaming up new and exciting ways with herring, here in Israel, the eggplant seems to have taken on a similar role, only, in my humble opinion, the results are much tastier. Any trip to an Israeli supermarket or local eatery will present you with an array of different eggplant salads – eggplant in tehina, eggplant in mayonaise, roasted eggplant salad, spicy eggplant, and then there’s fried eggplant slices, and more. One of my favorite ways to serve eggplant is the locally popular half eggplant with tehina. This is one of the most elegant ways to serve Israeli “herring”, and is extremely easy to prepare. It’s a great side dish for a BBQ or any other meal. It’s parev and of course, vegetarian, so it ticks many boxes.

I recommend looking for smaller eggplants so that you can give a half an eggplant per serving instead of having to cut them in half at the table.

For this year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut, why don’t you give this simple dish a try, and watch your guests be very impressed.



Roasted Eggplant Served with Tehina

6 small eggplants

Olive oil

2/3 cup of raw tehina

About 2/3 cup of cold water

2 small cloves of garlic crushed

The juice of half a lemon (or more, to taste)

½ cup chopped fresh parsley (about half is for garnish)

Salt to taste

How to do it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Wash the eggplants, snip off the spikey part of the stem leaves and slice them length-ways down the middle. Brush the cut side of each half with some olive oil (the oil will be absorbed into the eggplant and it will not seem oily, but don’t add more.)

3. Place the eggplant halves cut side down directly onto a clean oven rack. (Tip: Place an oven tray below the rack covered with a piece of baking paper or foil to collect the drippings and keep your oven clean.) Bake for about 40 minutes or until the cut sides are brown and the flesh is soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. Prepare the tehina: In a bowl, mix the raw tehina, lemon juice and crushed garlic. Slowly add the water, mixing until you get a thick, but slightly runny consistency (runnier than hummus). Add the chopped parsley and salt to taste.

5. Serve each eggplant half with some tehina sauce drizzled over the top. Sprinkle with some more chopped parsley to garnish.

Makes 12 servings