If you've ever visited Israel, then you can vouch that one of the most fantastic ways to start the day is with an Israeli breakfast. What began as kibbutz fare—a big breakfast spread with lots of variety that made sense for collective living and dining—has turned into a common and well-loved fixture in Israeli hotels and restaurants.
When it comes to entertaining, it's also a nice change-up from the standard bagels and lox brunch. Even if you're looking for a different weekday breakfast, these dishes are ideal inspiration for those days when you want something more exciting than cereal or an egg. After all, hummus, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a pita are a great way to fuel up in the morning.
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Hummus—that much loved, humble chickpea dip—is a vital part of the cuisine throughout the Middle East. In Israel, where it's served at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack times, it's practically iconic.
Nowadays, you can find tubs of hummus in supermarkets worldwide, in all sorts of flavors. But nothing beats homemade hummus, and once you get the hang of the basic recipe, you can tweak it to get exactly the texture and flavor you desire.
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This recipe for Israeli pita bread makes it easy to enjoy your own fresh pita breads (pitot in Hebrew) warm from the oven. If you want to make them ahead, you can store them in the freezer so they stay fresh, then warm them up before serving.
Pita, by the way, isn't the only bread you'll find in a typical spread. Rolls, multigrain breads, challah, and bagels are all popular choices, too.
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This chopped tomato and cucumber salad is so iconic of Israeli cuisine that it has been dubbed "Israeli salad," and shows up on the table any time of day—breakfast included. It's virtually impossible to imagine stuffing a falafel sandwich or enjoying some freshly baked pita and hummus without it.
The truth is, Israelis aren't the only ones who appreciate this simple salad; you'll find similar recipes throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean region. Some include fresh herbs, other vegetables, or vinegar.
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Popular throughout the Middle East, Baba Ghanoush—also known as Baba Ghanouj and Babaganoush—is a dip or spread made of roasted eggplant and tahini. The recipe is straightforward: simply roast the eggplant, spoon out the softened pulp, and then puree with tahini and seasonings. Scoop it up with fresh pita bread or raw veggies.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Think of chocolate spread as Israel's answer to Nutella, only without the hazelnuts. Like its much loved Italian counterpart, Israeli chocolate spread first hit the market in the mid-1940s and has been popular as a breakfast spread, snack, and dessert ever since. Unlike Nutella, most commercial chocolate spread is pareve, so it can be enjoyed any time of day or night.
The original and arguably most popular brand in Israel is called HaShachar Ha'Ole—literally "the rising dawn"—so how can one not associate it with breakfast? Try it on challah or warm pita, or as a filling for crepes. Add some banana or strawberries if you want to up the nutrition factor.
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In Israel, freshly baked bourekas with all sorts of fillings are a bakery mainstay, and the supermarkets sell frozen ones as a convenience item. Kosher supermarkets in the U.S. and elsewhere often carry them, too, but they can be hard to find otherwise.
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Labneh is a thick, tangy strained yogurt that's delicious with cucumber and tomato salad, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with za'atar, or served as a spread for pita and breakfast breads. It's easy to make your own from plain yogurt and salt. Simply strain the yogurt and mix with seasonings. Then use as is, or form into small balls and store in olive oil in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Fruit yogurts also tend to make an appearance on Israeli breakfast buffets, so if you prefer things on the sweeter side, feel free to add.
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Eggs of all sorts are a staple of the Israeli breakfast. Shakshouka, eggs cooked in an aromatic, tomato-based sauce, is an Israeli specialty and becoming more popular across the globe. This recipe makes individual shakshouka, but you can cook it in one large pan for everyone to share. The great thing about this egg dish is that you can prepare it up to cracking the eggs and then once your guests arrive, add the eggs and cook until hot and set.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Israeli breakfasts feature plenty of locally grown produce, and olives are no exception. Plus, they're a natural fit for a meal featuring savory fares like hummus, cheese, and eggs. It is simple to bring home a container from the supermarket olive bar, but it is also pretty easy to add your own flavors to green and black olives.
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Israel has always had a strong coffee culture, with Turkish coffee a perpetual mainstay. But espresso-based drinks have gained lots of ground, too. One favorite is the "cafe hafuch," or "upside down coffee," a latte-like drink made with steamed milk on the bottom, espresso, and sometimes foamed milk on top.