I’ll Have Mine Baladi

Posted on June 10, 2010


For those who are interested in fresh local produce, “baladi” is the term for vegetables that are not raised industrially in greenhouses, but are grown in the old, traditional way.  The word comes from “balad” which in Arabic means village.  Baladi vegetables can usually be found in the produce markets in Arab villages and are valued for the intensity of their flavor.

My good friend Balkees from Nazareth is growing her own baladi vegetables this summer on a plot of land outside the city and I joined her yesterday in the late afternoon to go do some weeding and picking.  The okra was still tiny and there was very little to pick, but there was a profusion of zucchini to be harvested – particularly since Balkees likes to pick them when they are still only the length of a finger.  This is the perfect size for making stuffed zucchini – so that they can be piled up into a pot together with stuffed grape leaves – for a favorite summer meal.

What is amazing about these baladi vegetables is not only that they are not sprayed or fertilized, but that they are grown entirely without watering. 

   how the leaves collect dew

Balkees explained that they get their water from the dew, and showed me how the leaves are specially shaped to maximize the collection of every drop of moisture. 

I’m going to prepare my baladi zucchini tonight using another technique Balkees taught me – to slice them and sautee them in plenty of olive oil until they get brown – then drizzle a mixture of garlic and lemon juice on top.  I can’t wait!