Jerusalem Salad

My cousin Mona, who grew up in Jordan and eventually came to the United States to study, made this salad whenever she was homesick — it was a vivid reminder of her father, who loved the piquant tahini dressing. Mona always served Jerusalem Salad with warm lentils with rice, just as her father did. Although she passed away several years ago, it’s as if Mona is in my kitchen every time I make this. It is delicious with grilled meats, or spooned onto Falafel in place of the tomato and onion slices.–May Bsisu

Jerusalem Salad Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds firm tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 small pickling cucumbers, such as Kirby cucumbers, or 1 English cucumber, finely chopped
  • 5 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 packed cups finely chopped hearts of romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sesame paste (tahini), plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • 1. Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, bell peppers, and lettuce in a large mixing bowl.
  • 2. In another bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, vinegar, salt, and pepper together until the dressing is creamy and pale. If the dressing is too thick, gradually and a little water, whisking, until it reaches the desired consistency. If it is too thin, gradually add more tahini.
  • 3. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss thoroughly to coat. Serve immediately, to prevent the salad from becoming soggy.
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Elsa M. Jacobson

May 08, 2005

I made this recipe precisely as directed, and it was full of piquant goodness, a wonderful range of color and texture, and a delightfully nutty undertone from the tahini. I think this recipe can also serve as an excellent guidepost for similar salads, and that a range of ingredients, as well as their proportion in the salad, would work in almost any combination. I have had Jerusalem salads previously, but never with the inclusion of lettuce, which added lightness and crispness to an otherwise fairly crunchy salad. Where it is normally texturally a variation on a chopped salad, this felt fresher and cleaner, and I would be enticed to eat more of it. Because it is not as heavy, it also partnered well with the heavier Warm Lentil Salad recipe on this site, as the prelude to an entrée of the Turkish Baked Eggplant with Chile, Feta & Mint, also on this site. There is a little bit of leeway with the directions to serve immediately, but this salad should be made right before serving, as the instructions correctly note that it will become soggy.


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