Israeli Salad with Ricotta and Yogurt

If I’ve made a favorite recipe among my peers this year it would be this salad!  I had a similar version in a high-end restaurant in Tel Aviv, and I could not wait to make my own version.  The spice mixture za’atar is a middle eastern spice that is not easy to find, so you can substitute with dried oregano and sesame seeds.  I prefer to use ricotta and yogurt from my farmers market because it tastes so fresh.  I use metal rings to assemble this salad for parties, and the layering is so much easier and a beautiful presentation.

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Ingredients (serves 4):  

cheese layer:

8 ounces ricotta
8 ounces whole fat yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons za’atar

tomato salad:

1 cup tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped
1 cup cucumbers, peeled with seeds removed, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 mild green chile, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup good olive oil

arugula topping:

4 cups baby arugula, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon ground sumac (optional)

Pour off any liquid in the ricotta and yogurt containers.  In a medium bowl, combine the cheese layer ingredients together in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all tomato salad ingredients and gently mix.  Taste to see if more salt is needed.

In a medium bowl, combine arugula, salt and olive oil; toss.

On 4 salad plates, assemble the salad.  Place a layer of cheese mixture in middle of each plate; top with layer of tomato salad, and place arugula mixture on the very top.  Sprinkle with sumac, if using.  Serve immediately.

SaladsEvan Wei-Haas