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Cooking with Israeli Ingredients

August 2, 2015 | by Elizabeth Kurtz

Celebrate Israel and the flavors of our home with these recipes.

Celebrated chefs, magazines, and cooking shows are highlighting products and ingredients from Israel and thus I must follow suit. My family is enjoying the new dips that appear each week on the table, like these Israeli olives, the creamy tahini salad dressing that I’m using for everything from marinating chicken and meat, to a dip for veggies in addition to a great dressing for the Israeli inspired salad here.

I’ve also included a few recipes with Middle Eastern spices like Zaatar and Ras el hanout which are commonly found in the spice aisle today. Zaatar is fantastic on salmon and sprinkled on chicken before roasting, and ras el hanout, a sweet and savory blend, is fantastic blended into hummos, as a meat seasoning, or atop roasted vegetables or potatoes.

Finally, nutella and the pareve equivalent are so decadent as a dessert ingredient. Not just for crepes anymore, nutella is used in cookies, brownies, and chocolate fudge sauce. The cookies below are a winner, but I’ve tried it every which way this year! Celebrate Israel and the flavors of our home with these recipes.

Israeli Olives

Israeli Olives

Serves 8

  • 2 cans pitted green olives, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (1 teaspoon Srirachi sauce), optional (this makes it spicier)

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add olives, tomato paste, water, and crushed red pepper, if using. Stir until blended. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, until slightly thickened and smooth.

Can be prepared a few days before serving. Olives keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Green Beans, Dates, Pomegranates, and Honey Dressing with Smoked Almonds

Green Beans, Dates, Pomegranates, and Honey Dressing with Smoked Almonds

Serves 6

  • 10 ½ ounces green beans
  • 10 ½ ounces white wax beans
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup fresh mint
  • 2 shallots
  • ½ cup dates, chopped
  • ¼ cup pomegranates

Honey Dressing

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup smoked almonds
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add both types of beans and sugar snap peas and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Set aside.

For the dressing: Place honey and almonds in a small pot and warm gently over low heat. Add olive oil, vinegar and pepper and stir. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, toss beans, parsley, mint, shallots, dates, and pomegranates. Add the dressing. Mix together then chill until ready to serve. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Mixed Green Salad with Roasted Squash, Chickpeas, Pears and Tahini Dressing

Serves 8


  • 6 cups mixed salad greens (romaine, mesclun, arugula, frisee)
  • 1 lb. butternut squash, chopped into bite size pieces, about 2 cups total
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup sliced green pears
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds


  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, optional
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Place squash on a low-sided roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and mix well so that the pieces are all lightly coated with oil. Roast in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted but cooked through and still in pieces.

To make the dressing: In a food processor or immersion blender, combine tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, Sriracha, and puree until blended. With the machine running slowly drizzle in the canola oil and chili oil until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: In a large bowl or platter, mix lettuce, squash, chickpeas, pears and nuts. Top with desired amount of dressing. Toss and serve. Reserve additional dressing for another salad, as a marinade for grilled chicken or use as a dip.

Zaatar Salmon

Zaatar Salmon

Serves 6

  • 2-½ – 3 pounds salmon (I like the tail end, skin on piece)
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1 lemon sliced very thin
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Zaatar spice (available at most grocery stores and Persian markets)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Rinse salmon and pat dry. Place salmon skin down on a low-sided pan, lined with foil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salmon. Sprinkle the kosher salt and the Zaatar spice over the salmon. Lay the lemon slices on top of the salmon. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Classic Pot Roast with Ras el Hanout and Dried Fruit Couscous

Classic Pot Roast with Ras el Hanout and Dried Fruit Couscous

Serves 6

For the Pot Roast:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice juice
  • 1 tablespoon ras-el-hanout (Middle Eastern spice blend)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole lemon, pierced several times with a fork
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Couscous:

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped or other dried fruit
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Pot Roast: Preheat oven to 325°F.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Season roast with salt and pepper and brown meat on one side, about 4 minutes total. Flip roast, scatter onion, carrot, and celery all around, and continue to cook, stirring vegetables occasionally until roast is browned on second side, about 4 minutes. Add beef stock and tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the Dutch oven, and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, with an immersion blender, puree lemon juice, ras-el-hanout, paprika, mint, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until smooth. Add to meat and stir. Add the whole lemon, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook until roast is fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours total, removing lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

For the Couscous: Combine chicken stock, garlic, and cherries in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add couscous, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add parsley and lemon zest. Stir to combine and cover to keep warm.

Discard bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and whole lemon from pot roast and skim fat from the surface. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve meat and vegetables with couscous, spooning gravy on top.

Chocolate Nutella Cookies

Chocolate Nutella Cookies

Makes 5 dozen

  • 1-1/2 sticks of unsalted margarine, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup of Nutella spread (Or pareve nutella, chocolate hazelnut cream spread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream margarine in an electric mixer for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and pareve Nutella and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each. Add the vanilla and mix for 10 seconds.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda (do not skip this step as sifting eliminates clumps of cocoa). Mix into the margarine mixture on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides at least once to ensure even mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and refrigerate the dough for ten minutes.

Spoon tablespoon-sized drops of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheets for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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