For centuries, Israeli cooks have created a compelling cuisine based on readily available fresh local produce. Abundant in the region, olives, lemons, oranges, grapes, dates and mint have been served at feasts since Biblical times. A tradition in Israel, and throughout the Middle East, is the hors d'oeuvre or antipasto course called by its Arabic name, meza. This lavish spread of as many as a dozen dishes includes hummus, vegetable salads, tabouli, Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves and peppers, plus at least three or four eggplant preparations, all scooped on pieces of fresh pita or flat bread.
Moshe Basson, the chef/owner of Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem, shares his recipes for Israeli cooking, which rely on locally grown, organic produce. He includes four meza recipes to be served with pita as an appetizer course. Following the meza is the soup course and ma'aluba, a main dish comprised of chicken, rice and vegetables.