Although a plane ticket to Israel to celebrate Independence Day this week might not be possible, a feast made from the country’s juicy citrus exports can be the next best thing! While Bamba, halva and Aroma coffee are some well-known Israeli products, the agricultural industry, including citrus, is a driving force of Israel’s economy.
Israel produces more than 600,000 tons of citrus annually, exporting almost a quarter of its crop. Though most of the exports make their way over to Europe, you may be able to find some Israeli citrus in your local grocery store (look for the Jaffa brand).
But even if you can’t find Israeli-grown citrus, you can still celebrate Israel’s birthday with a menu full of vitamin C and Israeli pride. Sweet and savory, baked, broiled and even candied, there are more ways to enjoy citrus than the varieties available.
A classic way to enjoy the fruit and the new greens that are popping up in farmer’s markets across the city is with a salad. This Spring Green and Grapefruit Salad is can be made with your favorite green of choice. Add in some crunchy toasted nuts or tangy cheese like goat or feta for more depth. Pair a bright spring salad with a piece of fresh fish. With four different types of citrus, Salmon with Pink Peppercorn Citrus Sauce is the show-stopping centerpiece to your meal. Citrus adds a lot of flavor without overpowering the salmon, and the leftovers are great for a new spin on your classic bagel and lox.
With Passover just ending, your pasta cravings may be taking over, so how about a post-Passover pasta party? Using fresh lemons, herbs and cheese to make a light, flavorful sauce, five-ingredient Lemon Rosemary Pasta will convert any citrus critic into a fan.
For a country of baklava, halva, Krembo and rugelach lovers, it’s no surprise that even the tartest citrus can go sweet. To prevent the pucker, boil your oranges in sugar for a sweet candy. Candied Orange Peels are surprisingly simple to make, and you can substitute any kind of citrus for the orange. (Happen to find yourself with a pomelo on your hands? Try Pomelo Candies from Israeli cookbook author and icon Gil Hovav.) Or put the whole lemon into a food processor for wonderful no-waste Whole Lemon Bars.
No matter the country (and as a popular Hebrew children’s song goes), you can’t have a birthday without cake! From healthy to pure indulgent, there are several ways to have your cake and eat it, too, on Independence Day. Refresh your boring bundt cake with orange and Earl Grey tea—ahem, it’s good for breakfast the next day, too—or go for Yogurt Anything Cake. It’s called “anything” because you can make it with any citrus you have on hand, and maybe a few chocolate chips for good measure. If dietary restrictions usually keep you from eating cake, try this decadent flourless orange cake that has gluten lovers asking for seconds.
And how about a toast? Cheers to 70 years with this Orange EndowMINT Cocktail. Happy birthday, Israel!