Thursday, April 7, 2016

Amazing Israel.... and Some Good Food to Boot !

   Where do I begin to write about a land with so much history (His story),beauty, color, texture, cuisines,and on and on..My recent trip to Israel was educational, inspirational, emotional, strenuous, challenging, and unforgettable ! It challenged me to push myself harder than I usually do physically, as we had nine days of getting woken up at 6:30 AM, being ready for the bus at 8:30, and walking on a lot of stones, gravel, and steps. I don't think I have ever seen so many rocks in one country, and Israel is vey small, much smaller than California ! When one travels there, you feel like you have gone back in time, but Israel is also a beautiful blend of the ancient and modern day age. It was so awesome  and emotionally moving to go to places where Yeshua, Jesus Christ had been ! I particularly loved sailing on an ancient looking boat, across the Sea of Galilee, on a gorgeous day, knowing that Yeshua had walked on that body of water !! Cowabunga !!!
   After landing in the Tel Aviv Airport, I was taken by taxi to the Mediterranean Seaport city of Netanya.I was staying in a brand new Ramada Hotel and would meet the rest of my traveling group in the morning, as they had flown on another airline. I arrived in the afternoon, so I had time to take a little nap and a stroll to take in the view of the sea, and then later I would have dinner in the hotel restaurant.
   My Rabbi's wife,Lynette, had told me that the food was wonderful in Israel, so I was very excited to indulge ! When I entered the restaurant, my eyes almost popped out of my head ! There was a buffet line of assorted, beautiful salads, and array of meats, such as chicken, beef, and fish, as well as stews, and a counter with  assorted, cute little French pastries on it !
   We stayed in four hotels on our trip, and these food photos were taken at several of them. I couldn't get over how organized the hotels were, from handling large groups of pilgrim tourists like us (We had 21 people in our group.),
 and feeding us dinner and amazing breakfasts as well !
   The breakfast buffets consisted of yummy selections like custom made omelettes, hard boiled eggs, small mushroom quiches, yogurts, yogurt cheese with mint or dill, cucumber and tomato salad, baby arugula, cereals, granola, croissants, pastries, a twisted chocolate yeast cake called a krantz cake, cappuccinos, cafe mochas, hot chocolate, and I could go on ! Yes, they even had salad for breakfast ! How's that for eating something healthy to start your day !!                                                                                              Speaking of salads...Here's a recipe for a farro salad, adapted and inspired by a recipe in the cookbook, "A Year in Vegetarian Kitchen" by Jack Bishop. Farro, or spelt, is a whole wheat grain that is eaten a lot in Italy. It's a great salad to eat at a bar-b-que, a picnic, or to have on hand in the fridge when you want to grab something easy and quick, to eat for three days at lunch, dinner, or maybe breakfast ??!!

                                                 Farro Salad

1 pound Cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered, (halved if small)  (Optional, I don't always add them.)
1 cup cherry tomatoes   (Or 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced. I prefer these because they have intense flavor.)
4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/3" strips
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or lemon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons aged Balsamic vinegar (or more)
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups farro (spelt) rinsed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
6 cups baby arugula leaves or fresh spinach
4 ounces Pecorino Toscano, Goat Cheese, or Feta cheese, diced or crumbled (about 1 cup)


   Move an oven rack to the center position and heat to 425 degrees. Combine the mushrooms, tomatoes, shallots, peppers, 2 tablespoons olive oil,  and salt and pepper to taste on a baking sheet with a rim. (If you'd rather use sun-dried tomatoes, you can omit the fresh tomatoes and add them after the vegetables have roasted.) Roast the vegetables, stirring once, until the are nicely browned, about 20-25 minutes. Slightly cool the vegetables.
   While the vegetables are cooling, bring the broth, farro, and one teaspoon salt to a boil in a large pan. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently, stirring it once or twice, until the faro is tender, but a bit chewy, 25-30 minutes. Drain the farro  in a strainer and put it in a large bowl.
   Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, and toss until the farro is coated evenly. Add the roasted vegetables, parsley, and if using the sun- dried tomatoes, to combine. Cool it slightly then add salt and pepper to taste.Chop the spinach and add to to the salad. If you feel that more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasoning is need, go and add them.  Crumble some cold goat on top or the cheese of your choice. So make this salad and.......Go to Israel !! You'll be forever changed !!

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