Talk of the Table: Simple Salads for Summer Nights.

AuthorGuttman, Vered

It's summer, and cooking on a hot stove becomes less attractive. As temperatures soar, dinner made up of salads sounds more sensible than ever.

Israeli salad may be the first to come to mind. It's the perfect summer dish, made with Mediterranean sunshine staples like tomato and cucumber, finely diced, together with onion, parsley, pepper, radish, and any other fresh veggie around. The more colorful the better, as each color represents a different nutritional benefit.

But the Jewish diaspora has much more to offer when it comes to salads. Fresh, wonderful vegetable combinations have immigrated to Israel with generations of Jews making aliyah from across the world and have won their place on summer-night dinner tables. 'Hike watermelon and salted cheese salad, a combination that Bulgarian Jews brought with them. Traditionally a brined feta-like cheese called sirene is crumbled over or served with chunks of watermelon. Below is a modern take on the combination with the addition of pickled onions, pumpkin seeds and jalapeno.

Another popular salad is fattoush, a Levantine salad that uses old and dried pita bread to add volume and texture to a simple salad, much like the Italian panzanella. The pita is either grilled or fried and soaked in water and crumbled into a salad of tomato, onion and sumac.

Matbucha is a favorite Moroccan cooked salad that makes good use of the seasonal abundance of tomatoes. And while you're by the stove (for the occasional stirring!), make a batch of Moroccan carrot salad as well.

Finally, Turkish salad of charred eggplant, tomato and red onion lets you take cooking to the grill. Enjoy it with a slice of good bread and sparkling wine for an alfresco summer meal.

Charred Eggplant, Tomato and Red Onion Salad Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 4 Italian eggplants | 6 medium tomatoes | 1 red onion, quartered | 2 serrano peppers | 1 lemon, halved 1/4 cup olive oil | Bunch of fresh basil leaves | Kosher salt to taste DIRECTIONS 1. Light grill to medium-high heat. When hot, arrange eggplants, tomatoes, onion, serrano peppers and lemon on the grill. Cover for 15-20 minutes until eggplants are completely soft to touch and tomatoes are nicely roasted and their skins are partly charred. Rotate vegetables 4 times. Transfer veggies to tray, let rest for 5 minutes. 2. Using your hands, gently peel eggplants and transfer their pulp into a large bowl. Peel serrano peppers, clean out seeds and transfer to bowl. Chop tomatoes with their charred skins...

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