Anybody still out there? I'm back and ready to party...well, ready to do some cooking at least. My absence started sadly, with the passing of my beloved Nanny. But ended happily with a crazy trip through Israel with my In-laws. See...I've been busy. I just returned from the middle east with an even deeper love of its cuisine. Wonderful salads, kabobs of all varieties, olives, fresh fruit and dried, the freshest nuts and seeds...all naturally delicious, whole foods that fit in perfectly with our new diet. While it was hard to resist the Falafel, Israel's national dish, there were plenty of other options to feast on. I managed to drag my jet lagged butt to the kitchen yesterday to start recreating one of the many dishes I loved while I was away. While travelling, I scribbled many notes, tried to decipher dishes and even asked waiters to ask chefs for clues to help prepare the most outstanding meals. This salad was part of a typical Israeli breakfast we enjoyed on a Kibbutz in the north. I've been mulling over the possible ingredients and I think I broke the code. It is as good as I remember. So simple, flavouful and healthful.
Tomato & Walnut Salad
Origin: Inspired by Kibbutz Kfar Blum
Notes: Simple dishes like this shine when the best ingredients are used. Use juicy, flavourful tomatoes, fresh basil and really good olive oil for best results. Though I discovered this salad at breakfast, it would also be great along side a burger.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup basil, loosely packed, torn or roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 small clove garlic, minced (just a touch)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Toast the walnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes (or on the stove, in a frying pan, watching carefully, over medium heat until fragrant and toasted). Cool the nuts and then chop very coarsely.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary, a little more salt or lemon juice for more zing, or a little more olive oil if it's too strong. Serve immediately.