Pascale’s Kitchen: Independence Day for vegetarians

These are dishes that everyone in the family will love and will add lots of flavor and spice to your Independence Day activities.

May 7, 2019 14:28
Pascale’s Kitchen: Independence Day for vegetarians

The writer. (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)


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This year, I decided to offer an entire Independence Day menu that is fully vegetarian. I’ll explain to you how, instead of hanging out around the grill with all the family, you can prepare homemade falafel in your own kitchen, alongside homemade pitot, hummus, tehina, salad, french fries and s’hug. These are dishes that everyone in the family will love and will add lots of flavor and spice to your Independence Day activities.

Happy birthday, Israel!

Of course, it’s easier to just go to the grocery store and buy a bag of pitot, but if you have an electric baking pot, I seriously recommend you try this incredible recipe.
Makes 14 to 16 pieces.

1 kg. white flour, sifted (you can also use whole wheat or spelt flour)
1 Tbsp. salt
1½ Tbsp. dry yeast
1-2 Tbsp. white or brown sugar
3 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
3½ cups lukewarm water


Pour the flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Mix. Add the yeast and mix with your hand. Add the sugar and mix again.
Add the oil and half of the water. Mix until dough begins to form. Continue to knead and gradually add the rest of the water. Knead until very sticky. Stick your hand in the water and make a half-turn of the dough with the other hand. Take hold of the side of the bowl and turn it 180°. Keep kneading the dough in this fashion, getting your hand wet every once in a while so that it doesn’t stick to the dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes until soft.

Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 10 minutes or until dough falls away from side of bowl. If needed, you can add a few drops of water while mixing.

Cover the bowl of dough with a damp towel and place in a warm place to rise for 60-90 minutes until dough doubles in volume.
Place a baking stone in your oven and preheat to 250° for 90 minutes before beginning baking process.

Place the dough on a well-floured work surface. Cut the dough into 14-16 pieces and form them into balls. Place the balls on a floured tray. Cover them with a towel and let them rise for 10 minutes. Roll out each ball into a thin circle and form a pita.
Place the circle of dough on the hot stone. Leave it for 30-60 seconds until the pita expands and then remove it. Prepare all the pitot in the same fashion.

To prepare pitot in an electric pot, place two or three balls of dough on a metal tray inside the pot. Cover the pot and wait 30 seconds. If the pita expanded and is covered with golden brown spots, carefully flip it over. If it’s not ready, wait 15 seconds and check again. Cook the pitot for 20 seconds on the second side. When it’s done on both sides, remove it from the pot and place it on a towel to cool down. Prepare all the pitot in this fashion.

The pitot will soften, once they cool down, and therefore it’s recommended to serve them only 30 minutes after they’ve been baked.

If you’d like to cut down on your bread
and calorie intake, prepare smaller pitot.

Although it’s considered a national Israeli food, its roots are in Egyptian and Yemenite cuisine.
Makes 20 to 22 balls.

2 cups chickpeas
5 sprigs of cilantro
6 sprigs of parsley
5 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. spicy paprika
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. water
Oil for deep-frying

Soak the chickpeas in water the day before.
Rinse the chickpeas and blend them in a food processor with the cilantro, parsley, garlic and onion, until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except for the oil. Stir and let sit for 20 minutes. Take small amounts of the mixture and form balls. Heat the oil and deep-fry the balls until they are crispy. Remove and place on paper towels.

Special spoons to create perfect falafel balls
are available at specialty stores.
You can swap baking soda with baking powder, if desired.

Makes six servings.

½ kg. chickpeas, soaked overnight with
1 tsp. of baking soda and then rinsed
1 cup raw tehina
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of water the chickpeas were
    cooked in
Juice from ½-1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Serving suggestion:
½ cup chopped parsley
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 spicy green pepper, chopped finely
Juice from 1 lemon
4 Tbsp. olive oil


If you plan on serving hummus on a plate and not spread on a pita, I recommend serving with the following:
1 eggplant, cut into cubes and fried         in oil
Kosher salt and chopped chili pepper
1 cup of cooked chickpeas

Pour the chickpeas into a pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 90 minutes until chickpeas are completely soft. Drain, reserving one cup of liquid for later.
Place the chickpeas in a food processor and add the tehina and garlic. Pulse while adding a little of liquid you reserved, until desired consistency achieved. Taste and add lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste.
In a separate bowl, mix parsley, garlic, green pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Store in the fridge.
To prepare a plate of hummus, spread on a serving plate and flatten a little with back of spoon. Add some of the parsley mixture on top and then a little of the eggplant and whole cooked chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt and chili pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

1 cup raw tehina
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from 1-2 lemons
1 cup water
8 cloves of garlic, chopped

To make green tehina, add:
1 bunch of parsley, chopped finely
8 mint leaves, chopped finely


Place the tehina, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a bowl and mix well. Gradually add the water while stirring, until desired consistency reached.
If you’d like to prepare green tehina, add the herbs and mix.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.


Makes six servings.

4 tomatoes
4 cucumbers
Small-medium onion
1 cup parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
5 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
Pepper, to taste

Chop the vegetables into small pieces
and place in a bowl. Add seasoning and serve.

Makes four to six servings.

4 red potatoes
Oil for deep-frying
Salt, to taste

Red potatoes are the best type to use for making french fries. I like to choose large ones, since they’re easier to peel. Place pieces in a bowl of water, while peeling and chopping to keep them from browning. Drain water when you’re done – this also removes some of the starch. Then refill the bowl with water and add ice cubes. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. Rinse and dry before frying.

Heat the oil for deep-frying (at least 6 cm. high) over medium flame. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop one piece of potato inside. If it sinks and creates little bubbles, the oil is hot enough. Add some of the potato slices to the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove when done and let excess oil drip back into pot and then place on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

I recommend preparing a small amount of french fries each time, so that the temperature of the oil doesn’t decrease.



This salad is a perfect addition to any sandwich, and especially with falafel.
Makes four servings.

3 medium tomatoes
1 large spicy green pepper
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and olive oil, to taste

Rinse tomatoes and pepper and cut into small pieces. Place in a bowl and add garlic, salt and olive oil. Mix and adjust seasoning. You can also add some lemon juice or vinegar, if desired.


Makes enough for a small jar.
150 gr. small spicy red peppers, dried and ground
6 tsp. coriander seeds, ground
6 tsp. cumin, ground
5 tsp. black pepper, ground
7 cardamom seeds
20 cloves of garlic, crushed
¾ tsp. cloves, ground
2 tsp. salt
450 gr. cilantro leaves, chopped finely and ground
¼ cup water

Grind all the ingredients together, except for salt, in a food processor. Add more water, if necessary. Add the salt and store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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