Dishes That Build Bridges
These recipes from “Breaking Bread in Galilee: A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land” by Abbie Rosner take you on a journey with the author, exploring local foods and age-old culinary traditions and culinary wisdom described in the Hebrew Bible and still practiced in Galilee today. The book shows how sharing foodways is a powerful means for overcoming suspicion and building bridges between individuals on each side of this country’s bitter conflict.
Mejadra is most commonly known as a Middle Eastern dish pairing lentils and rice. In the Galilee, where wheat was king and rice an exotic import, the lentils were matched with coarsely ground bulgur instead. Galilean mejadra is distinguished by its ruddy color, derived from onions that are bronzed in a long and copious olive oil bath. Mejadra is served with leben (yogurt) and a little fresh salad.
1/2 cup small black lentils
4 cups boiling water
1/3 cup olive oil
4 chopped onions
2 cups coarsely ground bulgur
Cook the lentils in the boiling water, in a pot, until soft. Drain and save the cooking water.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very browned, but not burned. When browned, add 2 cups of water to the pan and stir well. When the water has almost boiled away, add the bulgur and mash it into the onions with a wooden spoon.
When the lentils are soft, add them, plus as much of their cooking liquid as you need, to more than cover the bulgur. The type of lentils and bulgur used, and how much water is left in the onions, will determine how much liquid to add. You can always add more liquid or let the excess cook away. When the bulgur is cooked through, season with salt to taste.
extra virgin olive oil
bunch of wild asparagus (or domestic asparagus if wild is not available), finely chopped
4 scallions, white and a little green, finely chopped
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground pepper
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet. Sauté asparagus and onion until the asparagus takes on a deep color.
Pour the eggs over the mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the eggs are set.
Bitter herbs are generally associated with the Passover seder ritual, where they serve as a reminder of the bitterness of exile. But bitterness is considered to be healthful and invigorating. The Galilee’s springtime wild growth offers numerous edible plants that fit the bitter bill. The all-time favorite in these parts, however, is chicory.
1 bunch chicory, cleaned and chopped into smaller than bite-sized pieces (endive can be substituted)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ground sumac
plenty of lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss well. Use plenty of oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste.
Find more of Sheilah’s culinary treats at www.cookingwithsheilah.com.