One of the things I always lament about getting cookbooks in the fall and then later in winter during the holidays is that inevitably I’m going to find a whole host of recipes that sound amazing but I must wait to make them until better weather arrives. While flipping through Zahav back during Christmas I did exactly that not far into the book–not only did the Israeli salad featured look both fantastic and simple, but then Michael Solomonov went and did one better and add in an Israeli salad water martini that looked damn refreshing as well.
The salad itself is fantastically simple: cucumbers and tomatoes are cubed and then tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and minced parsley. That’s it. The liquid that collects at the bottom of the bowl of the salad then inspired the martini; not wanting to waste that goodness, initially the thought was to simply drain some of the salad to get at that water and combine it with gin. They eventually realized that people might be weirded out by the though of olive oil* in their drinks, so moving forward they instead made a separate batch of what they called salad water to keep at the bar. A tomato and cucumber are blitzed in a blender with a sprig of parsley and then left to strain overnight in some cheesecloth, leaving you with a flavorful that pairs very nicely with the complex flavors of gin.
Though most of our Memorial Day weekend was on the cooler, even rainier side, by Monday the sun and heat did make an appearance and so I couldn’t wait any longer to give these recipes a try. (It helped that the on-the-vine tomatoes from Virginia at the Teet had the most fabulous scent and cucumbers were on sale.) After a couple of intense workouts over the weekend it was a great way to replenish our fluids in a more interesting way than merely drinking lots of water, while the cocktail was a welcome savory treat. The temptation to start infusing water with tomato, parsley and cucumber is getting furiously strong.
While we still have a few weeks to go before the official start of summer, it’s never too soon to start squirreling away recipes for when the heat becomes almost too much to bear. Definitely put these on your radar–you’ll be so happy you did.
barely adapted from Zahav (there’s not much to adapt here, to be honest)
- 3 cups chopped tomatoes
- 3 cups chopped cucumber
- 1/4 cups chopped parsley (leaves only)
- 2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil (use your fancy stuff)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice (about half a lemon)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine everything in a bowl, stir well to mix thoroughly and serve. Boom.
Israeli Salad Water Martini
also barely adapted from Zahav
- Israeli Water:
- 1 cucumber
- 1 tomato
- 1 sprig parsley
- Pinch kosher salt
- For each martini:
- 2 ounces gin (I like Bombay Sapphire)
- 1 1/2 ounces salad water
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
To make the salad water, blend the tomato and cucumber in a blender with the parsley and kosher salt. Line a fine sieve with cheesecloth over a bowl and place the puree into the strainer–let drain overnight in the fridge, and then when ready to use discard the puree and strain the liquid again to remove any sediment.
To make the martini: Combine all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into martini glasses. Garnish with a cherry tomato and a slice of cucumber (if desired) along with a lemon twist. Serve immediately.
*Am I the only one who would rather have a bit of olive oil in a martini rather than an actual olive? I mean intentionally and not because a greasy condiment gets plunked into the drink and creates an oil slick, of course.