Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

Sephardic Spice Girls

Tomatoes: A Summer Romance


We can’t imagine anything more perfect than tomatoes to eat on these hot summer days, so we thought we’d share our all time best tomato salad recipes.

Fresh, juicy, grassy, aromatic tomatoes are abundant and at their peak right now. So many different varieties—Roma, plum, heirloom. So many different colors—red, yellow, orange, green and purple. Tomatoes are full of fiber, Vitamin C and folate and tons of the antioxidant lycopene and low in calories.

Native to Central and South America, tomatoes were exported to Europe by the Spaniards. They quickly became integral to the cuisine of Spain, Italy and the Middle East. The Italians called tomatoes pomodoro “golden apples” leading food scholars to believe that the first tomatoes in Europe were yellow. The French called them pomme d’amour, thinking that they had aphrodisiacal qualities. Our use of the word tomato derives from the Aztec word tomatl.

We can’t imagine anything more perfect than tomatoes to eat on these hot summer days, so we thought we’d share our all time best tomato salad recipes.

Rachel’s Tomato and Roasted Pepper Salad

My mother always made this salad because it’s my father’s absolute favorite.

I’ve made it a part of my menu and now my husband Neil loves to eat it over white rice.

The combination of roasted pepper, herby parsley, minced garlic, preserved lemon and fresh lime juice make the tomatoes explode with flavor. Dress with a really good extra virgin olive oil and serve with a fresh crusty bread to sop up all the delicious juices and flavor.


3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small can roasted green chili peppers, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small preserved lemon, skin and pulp chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper

In a serving bowl, place tomatoes, green chili peppers, garlic, preserved lemon and parsley.

Dress with olive oil and lime juice.

Season with salt and pepper and toss.

Sharon’s Israeli salad (Photo by Alexandra Gomperts)

Sharon’s Israeli Salad

When I met Alan, my future husband, I discovered that he didn’t eat tomatoes or beets. I told him that I could live with a man who didn’t eat beets. But not eating tomatoes was a dealbreaker! He quickly learned to love tomatoes. After I fed him a ton of Israeli Salad, and this is just anecdotal, his vision improved and his hairdresser told him his hair was thicker!

My salad includes fresh cherry tomatoes, juicy peppers, crispy cucumber, sweet purple onion, Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and kosher salt. Avocado adds another level of creamy goodness.

My grandmother called it z’lata in Arabic, my friends and family call it yummy!

If you have any leftovers, blend for an amazing gazpacho soup.


1 lb heirloom cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, soaked and finely chopped
1 medium purple onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 Persian cucumbers, finely diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.

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Tomatoes: A Summer Romance