Black Lentil and Nectarine Salad

Photo by Jeremy Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/

Photo by Jeremy Keith.

The heavy dishes and red wines of winter have been set aside. Summer is here, and it is time to enjoy three months of lighter meals.

My wife and I held a get-together for our village to celebrate the season and create a delicious salad together. Our main components were black lentils and fresh herbs.

Black Lentil and Nectarine Salad

  • 2 cups black lentilsIMG-20150516-WA0024
  • 1 cup chopped dill
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 2 large nectarines, cubed
  • salt to taste
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. Place the black lentils in a saucepan.
  2. Cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the lentils in a colander under cold running water.
  5. Place the lentils in a large bowl.
  6. Combine with all the other ingredients.

Campfire Soup for Lag b’Omer

Spring is here, and the weather is nice enough for the family to go on a camping trip.

In Israel, it is also time to celebrate Lag b’Omer (or Lag Baomer): a celebration of the Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Romans between 132 and 136 CE, which occurred on the 33rd day of the Omer period of counting the days between Passover and Shavuot. In Hebrew, lag (ל”ג) has a numerical value of 33.

Every year, I pack my cast iron Dutch cauldron so I can cook dinner over the campfire. After my family and I pitch our tents, we carefully build our campfire. It is time to prepare my famous beef and lentil soup.

Beef and Lentil SoupIMG-20150410-WA0089

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch parsley, minced
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 lb. black lentils
  • Soup bones
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in the pot.
  2. Add the chopped onions, and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the ground beef.
  4. Cook until the beef is browned.
  5. Add the soup bones, and season to taste.
  6. Pour in the black lentils.
  7. Cover the mixture with water so it reaches four inches below the rim of the pot.
  8. Add the parsley and thyme and bring to a boil.

The soup is ready when the lentils are soft.

More Lag b’Omer recipes:

Freekeh, Lentil, and Parsley Pilaf

Sometimes, very early on Saturday morning, when the spirit moves me, and I have time, I get on the bike and go exploring the Judean hills.

Since it is Saturday morning the road is quite empty, I only encounter farmers tending to their small plots of land. This is a good opportunity to purchase freshly-harvested local freekeh.  

Freekeh is wheat that is still green. It needs to be roasted before it can be cooked.

The green wheat berries are slow roasted over coals in their hulls. Then, the peel is rubbed off. The roasting imparts a smoky flavor to the freekeh. I cook it like rice. Here is my recipe.

[Read more…]

Oven-Roasted Pumpkin

If you plant pumpkins in your garden, this is the time of year that they all ripen. What to do with all of them?

Once you cut a pumpkin open, you need to use it pretty quickly, because it will not keep fresh for long. The best thing to do is invite your friends and family to dinner and make sweet and spicy roasted pumpkin.

[Read more…]

Sinaia: Meat and Tahini Casserole

palestinian meat sinaiaFor the second week, I am getting through without smoking.

Memories from the last time I tried this made me believe that the task will be more difficult this time. On the one hand it’s encouraging, but then I think to myself that it really is not that complicated. What is the urgency in quitting? Why not smoke again?

Luckily I can transfer these lecherous thoughts to the kitchen.  Today I am thinking about a traditional Middle Eastern dish of seasoned ground meat baked with tahini sauce. Before we begin I should make one thing clear: Sinaia is entirely about the quality of the meat and the grinding. There is no choice but to grind it at home. I asked my wife if she would be able to stop by the best butcher we know to buy some meat.
[Read more…]