We’ve been doing some serious eating lately, it being the holiday season here in Israel. Sukkot is up next and we will be having at least two meals with friends, and others at home in our own sukkah. Although there is a lot of meat and fish on holiday tables, the emphasis on fresh vegetables here ensures that even at a barbecue, vegetarians are unlikely to walk away hungry (stuffed is more like it).
Israel and the Mediterranean region at large are quite famous for its selection of pre-meal salads, known as mezze. Nearly every Shabbat and holiday meal begins with a wonderful selection of small, colorful salads made from legumes, grains, and fresh or roasted vegetables. The salads a host/ess puts out is a reflection of their ancestry, cooking influences, and personal taste.
Since my own palate is the result of quite a culinary jumble — mixed Ashkenazi-Sephardi heritage, American and Israeli identities, New England and Middle Eastern flavors — I don’t really have a standard when it comes to mezze, and I am always open to new and tasty salads making their way onto our table.
This one is welcome!
Roasted Red Peppers with Walnuts and Raisins, from Gourmet Today
Unlike another red-pepper favorite, muhammara, this recipe does not require a food processor and is more of a salad than a spread.
8 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, cored and seeded
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
1 Tbs walnut oil
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup raisins (I recommend less, too many raisins make this salad a bit sweeter than I like)
Preheat broiler. Line two large baking sheets with foil. Rub or brush skin sides of bell peppers with two Tbs. olive oil and put 8 pepper halves, skin side up, on each baking sheet. Broil (in two batches) about 2 inches from the heat until skins are blistered and charred, about 15 minutes per batch. With tongs, transfer pepper to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let steam until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, the vinegar, walnut oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until the salt is dissolved.
Peel peppers. Teal lengthwise into 1-inch pieces. Add peppers, walnuts, and raisins to vinaigrette and toss until well coated. Cover and marinate at room temp for at least 30 minutes.
This salad tastes best at room temperature.