Food for thought on Yom Ha’atzmaut

Sachlab (Jessica Grann)

Israel is turning 74. May 5 is Yom Ha’atzmaut, which marks the anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948. We decided to celebrate with some Israeli cuisine, so we found some oldie-but-goodie recipes and reprinted them here. Enjoy!

Falafel salad

Keri White | Special to JT

I am generally a homemade cook and tend to avoid premade ingredients. But I make an exception for things that are just as good (or better) bought than what I could create in my kitchen, or that are so labor intensive and messy to prepare that I can’t justify the effort. Falafel ticks both boxes.

Serves 2 for a meal

  • 4 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced in ¼-inch pieces
  • Oil to spray cheese
  • 6 store-bought falafel
  • 6 cups lettuce, such as spring mix, romaine or Boston, rinsed, spun and torn
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup prepared hummus
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkle of ground cumin, salt and pepper, to taste

Spray the cheese with oil and pan fry it in a skillet over medium-high until crisp. Place on paper towels and set aside.

Prepare the falafel according to package directions. If no prep is needed, simply heat them up.

In a shallow bowl, mix the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, mix the hummus, lemon juice, oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork and taste for seasoning.

When all the components are prepared, place the cheese and falafel on top of the salad and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

Sachlab or malabi: This recipe does double duty

Jessica Grann | Special to JT

Sachlab — a warm drink loved by children and adults alike — is the epitome of Levantine comfort food. Also known as sachlav and salep, every country seems to have its own take.

My recipe also doubles as malabi, a traditional boiled milk pudding, well-loved in Israeli and Middle Eastern home cooking. Malabi is a favorite after-school snack and lightly sweetened dessert at my home.

While the recipe is identical, sachlab is served warm immediately after cooking and malabi is ladled out and chilled until it’s set into a firm pudding. The base takes less than 15 minutes to make.

Serves 6-8

  • 4 cups whole milk, coconut milk or almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons corn or potato starch
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon rosewater, optional

Measure 4 cups of milk into a heavy-bottomed pan and place on a medium-sized burner on the stovetop.

Ladle about half a cup of cold milk into a smaller dish.

Turn the heat of the burner to medium/low.

Whisk the starch of your choice into the smaller bowl of milk until the powder is combined with the milk. After about 5-7 minutes, when the milk in the pot is just starting to feel warm to the touch, add the honey and vanilla before whisking in the starch/milk mixture until combined, stirring a few times per minute to make sure that the starch mixes nicely into the milk.

Reduce the heat to simmer, and stir constantly as the mixture softly boils and begins to thicken. It is important that the mixture be continually stirred so that it does not scald on the bottom of the pan.

Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes, then remove the pot from heat.

It is important not to allow this mixture to sit in the pan, or it will develop a layer of “skin” over the top.

For sachlab, ladle into mugs and serve immediately, adding your desired spices or toppings.

For malabi pudding, ladle immediately into cups or glasses. Allow the pudding to rest at room temperature until cool, then cover with plastic wrap and transfer the cups to the refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours, or until firm. Remove from the refrigerator when you’re ready to serve and add your favorite toppings. I like to put out small bowls of each fruit and nut, so that my family and guests can add what they prefer.

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