Australia Day is a day to enjoy a barbecue lunch with friends and family. This year it falls on a Thursday, which is kind of random but fun. Australia Day is not just about the drinks and the barbecues though. It’s also about celebrating what it is to be Australian.
To me, being an Australian is to be open-minded and welcoming to all cultures, genders, and sexual preferences. We are a young country and in a way all of us are newcomers. No one is better than another. In light of the atrocities happening in Melbourne recently and further afield in America where there is a president ruling with prejudice, I wanted to tell another story – one of tolerance and acceptance.
People often say that they are not racists, or homophobic, or that they don’t have a problem with the burqua, and then you hear the ‘but’ as they continue on to justify their prejudice view. Australia Day should be about no ‘Buts’. It’s about recognising that every single one of us is welcome to be here and that we should all be grateful to live in this wonderful country.
Food brings all cultures together. I love seeing the Muslim communities down at the Barwon Heads river cooking their lamb on a spit (it smells amazing!) sitting under the trees and talking. I grew up with Tongan neighbors who invited us to their regular Hungis, where they would dig a hole in the ground and cook food wrapped in banana leaves and hot stones. It was amazing!
So in the theme of togetherness, multi-culturalism and food, I thought I’d share with you one of my absolute favourite summer salads at the moment, The Israeli Chopped Salad. I found it in a book given to me by a dear friend for my birthday, called Neighborhood and it is a collection of recipes from all over the world, by Hetty Mckinnon. The message of food and connectedness resonates strongly through her book too.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
3 large beefsteak tomatoes (about 1kg)
4 small Lebanese cucumbers (about 400g) trimmed
1 bunch of small radishes (300g) trimmed
1 red onion
3-4 Chinese Shallots
1 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup coriander
1 long green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons
160-200 ml of extra virgin olive oil
200g of sheep’s milk feta, crumbles
salt & pepper
(The key to making this salad quickly and nicely is a ‘slicer dicer’, but if you don’t have one of these a sharp knife is just as good.)
If the tomatoes and cucumber have lots of seeds, cut them out and discard. Cut the tomatoes into roughly 5 mm cubes followed by the cucumbers, radishes and red onion, making sure everything is roughly the same size. Chop the Chinese shallots, parsley, mint and coriander leaves as finely as possible. Place everything in a bowl and add in the chili.
Now it’s time to dress the salad with the lemon juice and olive oil. I encourage you to add these gradually – tasting, adding more and tasting again – until you achieve the acidity you like. Remember, this salad is designed to be very lemony.
To serve season well with salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice, if you like, and scatter over the crumbled feta.
What is your favourite barbeque salad? Please share below!