Pereg: A Taste of Home

A couple years ago I let several containers of Pereg salad and rice toppings I had received as a gift languish and go to waste, because they didn’t have clear ingredient listings, let alone instructions for use. Feel free to call me obsessive compulsive type A food shopper, but I couldn’t get near an uncharted food product.

Then on a recent trip to Israel, one of the spice stores in Machane Yehuda was offering some heavenly-smelling rice dish samples, and I stood in line behind a good dozen people, determined to find out what the commotion was about and what everyone was raving about. I soon did: Pereg grain mixes, salad toppings and much more. I was blown away. I excitedly mentioned to the merchant I just had to get a box of each item to take back home with me, and he said all the Pereg products his store carried came in bulk, just fill any size bag you need straight from the bins. After all, all things Pereg were born in Israel, and they were perfectly at home in the Shuk bins, thank you very much. So no ingredient list? Nope. Oh sugar, I thought, here we go again, as I walked away dejected.

But at the last Kosherfest Show I was wonderfully surprised: Not only did Pereg have a beautiful and extensive line of grains, grain mixtures for soups and stews, oils, spices, pastas, condiments, mixed toppings and seasonings, all natural, but each item came clearly listed, with suggestions on how to use them, cooking and serving instructions. Now we are talking! A closer look at the ingredient lists on the Pereg product containers easily revealed their purity and integrity, and their extreme ease of preparation.

I was somewhat perplexed at the cooking instructions on a small box of rice dish that boasted three servings. The uncooked contents of the included bag couldn’t have been more than half a cup total, so I thought, OK, maybe three toddler size servings. But the finished dish yielded three very generous and delicious servings, and I marveled at the astounding elasticity of Pereg grain mixtures. How did it expand so magically? What just happened here?

The instructions on the Pereg grain dish box are, quite simply, to pour the contents of the bag into a small sauce pan, a measure of water and a small measure of oil, bring to a boil, simmer about 15 minutes, fluff. end of story. Could it really be so simple?

Yes it was. And the best part, which is also the reason Pereg grain dishes expand greatly, is that the grain is mixed with wonderful freeze-dried vegetables (as distinct from the inferior, ubiquitous and intractable “soup mix powders” of all persuasions – broth, bouillon, consomme and goodness knows what else) that get reconstituted to their full volume with the heat and the steam released during the cooking process. Did the freeze-dried veggies mixed into the grains taste as good as fresh? The answer is a flat-out yes and then some, because the process of freeze-drying vegetables concentrate their flavors to a pure quintessence, the very best kind of processing you could subject your food to.

Pereg-Oils-LevanaCooksPereg-Salad-LevanaCooks

Pereg-spices-LevanaCooks

I was delighted at the restraint Pereg uses in their seasonings: Mere drops of oil per serving, and very little salt, interesting spices in distinct but discreet amounts that don’t interfere with the rest of the meal you are preparing.

Pereg oils are intense and fruity yet do not steal the show, which makes them a wonderful choice of salad dressing. You will also find unbelievably delicious nut, seed, herb and spice topping mixtures, with no-nonsense short and sweet ingredient lists, that are often all you need to quick a plain salad or pasta dish up a notch and give them that ideal crunch, texture and flavor salads and pastas are so prized for.

The finished dish made from Pereg mixtures are a valuable building block to substantial and interesting meals, and indeed they can be the meal itself, whipped up in minutes. Pereg is perfect not only because it saves the harried yet uncompromising cook time and money, but because it is, quite simply, as natural, as pure and as delicious as what you might make at home from scratch.

Don’t be bashful, spread on the Pereg mixtures really thick, you can’t go wrong: So good, and so good for you!

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