My husband and I are vegetable farmers in Prince George’s County. We stay well connected to Israel by importing organic Israeli olive oil, olives and dates, which we sell to chefs, stores and individuals. For the past three years, we have imported wonderful organic olive oil from Makura Farm located a little south of Haifa on the Carmel coast.
Guy and Orna Rilov of Makura Farm have built the farm from a very small grove into a well-regarded operation, producing more than 10,000 gallons of olive oil each year. Check out Makura Farm’s website for plenty of photos and a history of the farm in English.
A few years ago, The Jewish Daily Forward published an article on how the farm grows the ancient Souri variety thought to be the same type of olive grown during the time of the Maccabees. Last summer, caterer and Jewish Food Experience author Vered Guttman wrote an article for Haaretz on why we import Makura’s olive oil.
Last week, Israel celebrated its independence day, Yom Ha’atzmaut. Here in the US, Passover gets so much attention that it is possible to miss the important days that follow. In Israel, of course, the experience is different. In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, we asked Orna Rilov for a recipe using their olive oil. Orna, who is a talented Mediterranean cook, shared her family’s tabouli recipe.
Orna writes, “In Israel, friends and families gather for picnics to celebrate Israeli Independence day and enjoy time outdoors in nature. Along with barbecues, many salads are served, including tabouli, which has a wonderful green appearance and great taste.”
We made Orna’s recipe using fresh mint and green onions that grow on our farm in spring. In one version, I used farro wheat instead of bulgur because my local store was sold out of bulgur. Farro is also a whole grain form of wheat, but has a chewier consistency similar to barley. If you want to stick to the Israeli tradition, use bulgur.
Just before Passover, we received a new shipment of olive oil. For us, it is a small miracle that the oil makes the journey from Makura Farm to our Prince George’s County farm unharmed. This year we imported three different varieties of extra virgin olive oil from Makura: Souri, Coratina and Kalamata. For information on purchasing Makura olive oil, visit Israeli Harvest. We ship the olive oil and also deliver group orders to Washington and Baltimore area congregations.