After 10 delicious and extraordinary days of eating Israel’s best hummus, shawarma, and halva, with 40 of my new best friends, one amazing memory from my Birthright trip stands out — an afternoon at Israel’s Shvil Hasalat (“Salad Trail”) farm. Deep in the desert, right near the Gaza strip, the Shvil Hasalat grows everything from San Marzano tomatoes to strawberries to lemon basil using an intricate temperature and bee-controlled greenhouse system.
Running around these houses, tasting anything we pleased, was comparable to a real-life Willy Wonka Factory. I had my first chocolate tomato, some amazing rosemary… and when some mischievous boys went searching for the Khat in the herb house, I may or may not have followed them.
After the tasting, we entered into a Chopped-inspired competition, where we divided into four teams and were challenged to create three dishes centered on a secret ingredient, using pita, tahini, olive oil, and whatever we could find in the greenhouses. I was on team Purple Carrot, which was headed by one of the Israelis in our group, who also happens to be a chef at Tel Aviv’s new hip restaurant, Popina. Just my luck!
We got to work, picking herbs, chopping carrots, and making a boreka-inspired dish using our small portion of pita dough and my dumpling folding hands. In our “boreka” was a magical filling of purple carrot hummus, whipped up brilliantly by our fearless team captain. Sweet and nutty and delicious, it won over the judges and led us to victory.
Upon my return to the States, I scoured the markets for those sweet purple carrots but failed miserably. So took a stab at the hummus using regular orange carrots and found it was equally as tasty as the one in Israel.
2 cups chopped carrots
6 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
the juice from 1/2 a lemon
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve with pita and enjoy!