Tomato Medley with Arugula Pesto

Don loves arugula.  He will eat a bag of arugula as a snack.

I love tomatoes.

In fact, my mother has told me that “tomato” was my first word.  I pronounced it as “apimanus” and would do anything for a tomato.  I still will.  I just think that the juiciness, sweetness and unique character of a tomato makes a salad complete.

And, nowadays, tomatoes are available in all shapes and colors.  There are yellow pear tomatoes and brown kumato tomatoes.  There are beefsteak and grape tomatoes, cherry and low-acid tomatoes.

And, most are available year-round in your local markets.  Best of all, tomatoes are very simple to check for kashrut (kosher status) as their structure rarely allows for insect infestation.

Recently, a group of our friends joined to prepare an exquisite and delicious Sheva Brochos (seven day wedding after-party) for our newly married children, Yitzchok Aaron and Hindy.   There was gorgeous china and stemware.  The tablecloths were elegant and beautiful.  Every delicious home-cooked dish was impeccably prepared and served.

But, for me, the stand-out memory of the evening was the tomato salad.  It was a beefsteak tomato salad served in stout chunks with the most incredible pesto drizzled on top.  It was gorgeous, fresh and simply delicious.

Last night, my aunt and uncle came to visit my parents who are living with us.  They were coming from quite a distance and were due to arrive around dinnertime.  I had been busy all day with my mother and we arrived home later than expected.  Before I left that morning, I had prepared a crockpot lentil soup and set a simple brisket  and Simple Rainbow Roasted Vegetables in my oven on time-bake.

What I had left for the end was the salad.  I knew that I had some pre-checked lettuce and other assorted vegetables in my refrigerator bin.  Thirty minutes before their arrival, I opened the bin to begin preparing the salad.  All my salad ingredients, including the checked lettuce were gone.  All that remained were tomatoes, onions and arugula.

And, oh, there were tomatoes!  I had containers of every type of tomato imaginable.  There were yellow pear tomatoes and brown kumato tomatoes.  There were grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, but no beefsteak tomatoes. Last week, all the local markets had interesting tomatoes at great prices, so I had stocked up.  And, my salad thieves had barely touched the tomatoes.

So, what was there to do?  My mind raced back to the Sheva Brochos tomato fantasy.  I had never received the recipe, but in my mind, I knew exactly what to do.  And, the results were even better than the original and approved by all my guests.


Tomatoes, sliced

Arugula, washed and pat dry

1/2 onion, cut in chunks

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt


Wash and cut tomatoes.  If using large tomatoes, cut into thick slices.  Arrange in a bowl or on a serving platter.

heirloom tomatoes alone.jpg

In the food processor fitted with the s-blade, pulse onion chunks and well-dried arugula.  Once the onion and arugula are completely broken down, add lemon, salt and oil and process until well combined.

arugula pesto.jpg

Right before serving, pour pesto over the tomatoes.  Enjoy!


heirloom tomatoes w arugula pesto on plate


Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.  Kashrut authorities differ somewhat on the proper checking of leafy vegetables. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using greens such as arugula.


For an interesting appetizer, side dish or buffet option, decant tomatoes into a glass.  Top with arugula pesto and garnish with a small bread stick or crouton.

heirloom tomatoes w arugula pesto in glass.jpg

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Out of the Bowl Tiered Salad

Who says that salad must be served in a salad bowl and tossed?

out of the bowl salad-side view.png

One of the most exciting things about salad is its versatility.  A beautiful and delicious salad can incorporate so many disparate ingredients and the contrast of colors, textures and flavors makes each salad unique.

Today’s salad is about layering a gorgeous vessel with different vegetables and toppings.  Its effortless simplicity achieves an elegance that highlights the colorful and flavorful vegetables themselves.

This salad is prepared on a rose gold hammered elongated platter with the ingredients placed in long tiers.  The vibrant colors of the romaine lettuce, shredded fresh beets, rainbow peppers and heirloom tomatoes speak for themselves.


hammered elongated bowl (different than bowl pictured on blog post)


romaine lettuce, shredded
raw red beets, peeled and shredded
rainbow peppers, cut into small pieces
heirloom tomatoes
parsley and scallions, cut into tiny pieces

Balsamic Vinaigrette


Place a layer of shredded romaine lettuce.  Top that with a layer of shredded red beets, overlapping the bottom layer so that the romaine lettuce can be viewed from the sides.

out of the bowl salad-layers 1 and 2.png

Top that with small pieces of rainbow peppers and small colorful tomatoes.

rainbow peppers

Garnish with shredded or sliced parsley and scallions.  Drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette over the salad and serve.

out of the bowl salad partial view.png


This salad is truly simple to wow!

out of the bowl salad.png

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Watermelon Jicama Salad

watermelon jicama salad


A few weeks ago, we had very hot weather on Shabbos.  It was one of those weeks that boasted a potpourri of  weather patterns.  We had rain, cold, overcast skies, bursts of sunshine and then a 40 degree rise in temperatures from Friday to Shabbos.

We just did not have enough time for our bodies to acclimate to nearly ninety degrees F on Shabbos.

I had bought a watermelon to greet the warm weather and Shabbos morning, on the spur of the moment, I decided to serve the watermelon as a salad rather than as a dessert.  I remembered having a delicious watermelon salad at my friend, Sallie’s house several years ago.  I didn’t remember anything about the other ingredients in Sallie’s salad, just that I had really enjoyed her watermelon salad.

I ran the idea of creating a watermelon salad by Ruti, our Shabbos house-guest from Jerusalem.

She had one word for the idea.  Muzar.  Strange.

That didn’t stop me.  I looked in my refrigerator.  I had jicama, mint, scallions and blood oranges in addition to the watermelon.  So, I cut everything up, placed the salad bowl in the refrigerator and waited for inspiration to set in for the dressing.

Inspiration is the mother of invention,  The salad was refreshing, delicious and beautiful.

Oh, and Sallie joined us with her family for Shabbos lunch.  At first all our guests remarked, “So, we’re the guinea pigs for the blog?”, to which I simply said “yes!”.

But then, Sallie tasted the salad and just said, “Wow!”

That made my day.  The ingredient combinations may be muzar, but Sallie’s declaration of wow confirmed that this recipe would be a keeper.


watermelon, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
jicama, peeled and cut into small cubes
scallions, washed and cut into 1″ sections
mint, soaked and rinsed (optional) (see kosher notes)
2 blood oranges, peeled and cubed

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
dash of pepper
lemon juice or cider vinegar
drizzle of oil (optional)


wavy crinkle cutter



Cube watermelon and cut jicama into small strips or cubes using  wavy crinkle cutter. Clean and rinse scallions and mint.  Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over ingredients. Drizzle with lemon  juice or cider vinegar.  Lightly drizzle with oil.



Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.  Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of herbs and some disallow the use of fresh herbs altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing herbs such as mint.

Simple and Colorful Rainbow Carrot Salad

rainbow carrot saladI love using interesting and varied fresh ingredients in my recipes.  It used to be harder to find heirloom produce varieties, and I would have to scour farmer’s markets and specialty shoppes to find specialty produce.  In the past few years, our local supermarkets and stores like Trader Joe’s have begun stocking heirloom and specialty varieties of our favorite produce.

Many unusual color vegetable varieties lose their vivid color when heated, so I prefer to use these in salads and in fresh  preparations (Rainbow Carrot Curls: A Wow Garnish). Vegetables like heirloom tomatoes, red basil and rainbow carrots really add a beautiful and colorful wow factor to ordinary recipes.

This salad is hearty, satisfying and simple to prepare.   It can be made with orange carrots instead of rainbow carrots and will be equally tasty with just a few less colors of the rainbow to admire.  It boasts Garbanzo beans (chick peas) for a protein boost and almonds and scallions for color and texture.

This salad is best made several hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.  I prefer to shred the carrots myself since unpeeled whole carrots stay fresher than ready-to-use shredded carrots.


2 pounds of peeled rainbow carrots, or any color carrots, shredded
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained well
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 bunch of scallions, sliced thin

squirt of mustard
drizzle of honey or agave syrup


Shred carrots using the shredding blade of the food processor or using a hand grater or mandoline.  Add well-drained garbanzo beans, almonds, dried ranberries and scallions.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with mustard and honey.  Toss well and enjoy.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad

For our annual Purim seuda (festive meal),  I decided to prepare a new salad.

This salad took inspiration from a delicious battata (sweet potato) salad that I enjoyed at Cafe Greg in Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee of Israel.  It combined the delicious colors, flavors and textures of roasted sweet potatoes, candied almonds and shredded fresh beets. All these were served atop a bed of arugula and baby kale and then tossed right before serving.

I prepared this salad as my feature salad, reserving my biggest salad bowl for this new recipe.

The only thing that took extra time was roasting the sweet potato cubes in advance.  It was well worth the effort.

It must have been delicious because it was the only item that I prepared for the seuda that was finished within the first hour.


3 cups checked salad greens (see kosher notes)
2 cups roasted cubed sweet potatoes
2 cups shredded fresh beets
1/2 cup nuts
thinly sliced scallions
french fried onions (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil.

Peel sweet potato and cut into small cubes.  Place sweet potato cubes in a single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.

Roast for 35-55 minutes checking that sweet potato cubes are crisp on outside and soft on inside before removing from oven.  Cubes may be prepared in advance.  They may either be added to the salad warm or at room temperature.

Peel beets.  Using the shredder disk on the food processor, shred beets.

Combine, process or shake all dressing ingredients together.

Layer greens and shredded beets. Lightly drizzle dressing over the salad. Top with nuts, scallions and french fried onions.  Toss right before serving.



Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.  I have found that flat-leafed greens like baby spinach and flat-leaf  kale are much easier to check for insects than their curly-leaf counterparts.  Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of leafy vegetables and some disallow the use of spinach and kale altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing greens such as spinach and kale.



Cubed butternut squash or fresh pumpkin may be substituted for the sweet potatoes.



When I prepare greens in advance, I place a few absorbent paper towels at the bottom of the bag or dish.  I then layer the greens over the paper towels.  These paper towels will absorb any extra moisture in the greens and will keep the green fresh. roasted sweet potato salad


The Blessing and Renewal of Tu Beshvat


tu beshvat fruit salad with kiwi garnish.jpg


Tomorrow is Tu B’Shevat , ט״ו בשבט‎‎, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat.   This special Jewish day commemorates the New Year of the Trees.

We are  taught that the trees are judged on this date for the fruit that will be produced in the next growing year.  In Israel, this is the beginning of fruit trees emerging from winter dormancy to begin a new fruit-bearing season.

To commemorate this special day, we enjoy fruit, especially fruits synonymous with the Land of Israel.  In the Torah, certain fruits are praised as the bounty of Israel and we make certain to enjoy these fruits on this day.  These fruits of mention are olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.

Tu B’Shevat reminds us of the dormant potential in the trees and in each one of us.  Just as the trees and their seeds lie dormant during the harsh and cold winter months, often we have times of dormancy.  Our hope is that we recognize the potential in ourselves, our children and those around us, even in the harshest and most challenging of times. Precisely at this time, while it is still cold and unforgiving outside, the trees celebrate their New Year.

May each one of us celebrate this festival of potential, growth and blossoming in our gardens, our families and our hearts.

This fruit salad incorporates some new fruits and some of the fabulous fruits of Israel. We thank G-d when enjoying the vibrant colors, textures and flavors of fruit by reciting this blessing:


Baruch atah A-donai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam Borei Pri Ha-aitz.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

When we eat new fruits that we have not eaten for an entire season, we also bless G-d with this special blessing:

Hebrew:Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu laz'man hazeh.

Baruch atah A-donai, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam shehecheyanu v’kiyimanu v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh

Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season

This fruit salad incorporates so many of the fruits that I love to purchase at the Machene Yehuda Shuk (Jerusalem open-air market) while we are in Israel.  I hope that it connects you to The Land, to G-d and to the potential that is Tu Beshvat, too.

Happy Tu Beshvat!

dragon fruit
kiwi (see tips)
star fruit
Asian pears (see tips)

melon baller
scallop knife

Was, dice, scoop and cut fruit into small pieces.  Gently toss and optionally garnish with Simple Kiwi Flower Garnish.



To keep fruits like Asian pears from oxidizing, place cut pieces in a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part of lemon juice r pineapple juice.

Peel kiwi with a vegetable peeler.  You will preserve more of the fruit.

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Leah’s Crunchy Chopped Salad

When Leah read the recent blog post on her chocolate chip cookies, she felt inspired to share some new salad recipes.  After all, she felt it necessary to validate her title as “Salad Queen”.

One evening, on the night before I planned to clean out the refrigerator and then restock my fruits and vegetables, Leah created this chopped salad with the slim pickings in our fridge.

This salad is the perfect combination of crunchy and smooth.  It boasts vegetables of all colors and textures.  She savored every bite and I’m sure that you will, too.

Here’s to Leah Primavera!



1-2 cups red cabbage, shredded
3-4 stalks celery, sliced
2-3 green scallions, sliced
1-2 red peppers, cut in chunks
1 ripe avocado
handful of shelled roasted sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons Simply the Best Caesar Dressing
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame seeds



Layer vegetables and sunflower seeds in order of ingredients listed above.  Drizzle Caesar Dressing and balsamic vinegar.  Gently toss.   Sprinkle sunflower and sesame seeds on top.





Sweet Potato Roses in Salad Box


Who said that salads have to be tossed in a salad bowl?

I love the idea of individual salads and especially individual layered salads. There is something wonderful about being served an individual salad, especially when there is a beautiful and delicious garnish to top it off.

Here is one sensational salad appetizer that I created using the simplest of ingredients to create a wow.




sweet potato, onion or zucchini, scrubbed
kosher salt
romaine lettuce leaves
chopped peppers or your favorite chopped vegetables
Simple and Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette or your favorite dressing in a squeeze bottle


mandoline or wide peeler
clear square plastic bowls



Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Thinly slice unpeeled sweet potato using wide peeler or mandoline.

Place thin sweet potato, zucchini or onion slices on parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of oil and kosher salt. Roast for 20-30 minutes, just until vegetables are soft with the edges just starting to turn brown.

While roasting the vegetables, soak and rinse romaine lettuce and chopped peppers.

Stand 1-2 sprigs of smallest inner leaves of hearts of romaine at edge of square plastic bowl. Place chopped peppers at the bottom and squeeze scant amount of dressing on top of peppers.

Remove the vegetable slices from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Roll each slice up to form a rose, using the crispy end to form the middle of the rose bud and wind the softer end around to form a rose.


Garnish each salad with vegetable roses and tuck  two or three loops of chives between the vegetable roses and the romaine  sprigs.




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which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Thanksgiving Quinoa Salad

Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the harvest.  Giving thanks is central to Judaism and offering thanks for agricultural success (Bekurim: First Fruits from Hollister) is an important Jewish theme.  Traditionally, foods like cranberry, almonds and corn are included in the American Thanksgiving celebration.  This salad celebrates the breadth of so many delicious salad ingredients, some old, some new and some recreated.  The addition of pumpkin pie spice to the toasting of the seeds and nuts adds a familiar Thanksgiving taste and aroma to this salad. (more…)

Mango, Pecan and Pomegranate Salad

Occasionally, I like to prepare a sweet and leafy salad.  I usually use romaine lettuce or baby bok choy, since these greens are assertive enough to stand up to the sweet juiciness of the fruit and nuts.  I choose whatever fruit is abundant and perfectly ripe.

Over Sukkos in Israel, pomegranates and mangoes were exactly that: abundant and perfectly ripe.  I bought candied pecans in the Machane Yehuda Shuk (Jerusalem market) and added those, too.

Davida prepared this salad and is was both beautiful and delcious.  I loved the interplay between the soft bitterness of the chopped greens, the sweet juiciness of the pomegranate seeds, the tropical flavor of the mango and the heartiness of glazed pecans.


The dressing for this salad is best made by sprinkling the spices and drizzling the liquid ingredients directly on the vegetables right before serving. That way, the salad remains light, fresh and not weighed down by the dressing.




2-4 cups of chopped romaine or baby bok choy (see kosher notes)

1 mango, cut into small cubes
1 pomegranate, seeded

1/4 cup candied pecans, chopped small


1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, sprinkled
Coarse black pepper, just a pinch to taste
juice of half a lemon, lightly drizzled
Olive or canola oil, lightly drizzled (optional)

light drizzle of agave syrup, honey or sugar




Make sure that the lettuce or bok choy is dry.  Place mango, pomegranate and pecans right on top of greens.  Right before serving, sprinkle salt and pepper on top of vegetables. Lightly drizzle with lemon, oil and syrup, honey or sugar. Toss all salad ingredients together. Enjoy!


Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing. Kashrut authorities differ somewhat on the proper checking of leafy vegetables. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using greens such as romaine lettuce or baby bok choy.


Substitute star fruit or granny smith apples for mango




Kohlrabi Confetti Salad


We are in Israel for Sukkos and kohlrabi is plentiful here.  It is sold in the Machane Yehuda shuk (market)  and in fruit stands throughout the country.  In the past, I have used kohlrabi in soups and have cooked it in a myriad of ways.  Today, I prepared a shredded salad for dinner in the Sukka using fresh kohlrabi.  It was simple, delicious and very satisfying.

Kohlrabi is a root vegetable also named German turnip or turnip cabbage.  It has a white interior with an either light green or purple peel.  Kohlrabi has trademark antennae, making it look like an alien vegetable.

But don’t let its antennae scare you off.  Kohlrabi is a low-calorie option that is loaded with vitamins.  It has a crisp and crunchy texture and a mild sweet flavor.  Its flavor is reminiscent of broccoli stem and apple.  Kohlrabi may be cooked into soups stews or mashes.  It may be roasted like a turnip.  When roasted or cooked, it takes on the texture of a typical turnip.  When visiting Israel, I add cubes of kohlrabi to my chicken soup.

This was the first time that I have prepared raw kohlrabi and my family really enjoyed it. The salad was so simple to prepare and oh, so delicious!

Here is the recipe:


2 kohlrabi, peeled
2-3 Granny Smith apples, scrubbed
1 zucchini or summer squash, scrubbed
3 small cucumbers, scrubbed

salt and pepper, to taste
a splash of lemon juice

light drizzle of honey or agave syrup
a light drizzle of olive oil (optional)
slivered almonds (optional)


Cut apples off of core in several pieces.  Place cut apples in a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part of lemon juice to prevent apples from oxidizing.  Grate or spiralize vegetables and apples.

Sprinkle, splash and drizzle seasoning right over vegetables.  Sprinkle almonds on top of salad.


Arugula Salad Wrapped and Upright

We recently attended a wedding and I was entranced by the appetizer.  It was an upright mesclun salad wrapped in a long slice of cucumber.  The dressing was poured into the tightly packed upright salad and the appetizer bowl where the salad was placed was garnished with gorgeous fruit.

upright wrapped salad with fruit

When the cucumber peel was uncurled, the salad opened up and it was coated with the dressing and was garnished by the fruit.

I loved the presentation, the flavors of the salad and the whole idea of serving a salad wrapped and upright.

Of course, I was determined to create my own version of this type of salad.  I decided to try it first with arugula, one of my favorites.  It was not even much of a challenge.  I nailed it on the first try.

Here it is:


Arugula, soaked and rinsed (see kosher notes)
Lemon Vinagrette
Long Seedless cucumbers
fruit or tomato garnish


Carefully peel long slices of seedless cucumber with a peeler or mandolin.


Soak and rinse arugula, shaking out all excess moisture and/or wrapping in paper towels to dry.  Wrap cucumber slice around bundle of arugula, securing with a toothpick or small skewer, if necessary.

Stand bundle of arugula up on appetizer plate or shallow bowl so that arugula leaves are standing up.  Squirt dressing into center of arugula bundle, directing the tip of the squirt bottle into the arugula bundle so that dressing is contained within bundle and does not disperse or color the arugula.  Garnish with slices or fruit or vegetables.



Substitute arugula with other greens like mesclun, kale, romaine lettuce or shredded cabbage.


Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing. Kashrut authorities differ somewhat on the proper checking of leafy vegetables. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using greens such as arugula.



arugula salad in cucumber


Warm Zucchini-Mushroom Salad with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds

A warm salad can both accommodate our low-carb diet and satisfy our hearty side dish craving in a way that a cold salad never can.   This salad starts with a cold base of chopped romaine lettuce and is topped with a warm saute of onions, zucchini, mushrooms, slivered almonds and sunflower seeds.  The combination of salad and saute, cold and warm, fresh and hearty is simply sensational.

It is easy to prepare the parts of this warm salad in advance.  Just make sure to assemble right before serving to keep the salad greens crisp and fresh.

Best of all, you can separate  some of the warm saute separate and save it for another meal.  It will refrigerate well and can be served the next day over a bed of warm rice or quinoa.

warm salad mushrooms zucchini nuts and seeds plated



Extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced (see onion tip below)

1 box of mushrooms, cleaned, sliced and patted dry

1-2 zucchini, scrubbed, diced small  and patted dry

a sprinkle of slivered almonds

a sprinkle of shelled sunflower seeds

salt and pepper to taste
scant drizzle of balsamic or wine vinegar

1 cup romaine lettuce, soaked, rinsed and chopped



Clean and chop romaine lettuce.  Place on plate or in salad bowl.

Lightly saute onion in olive oil until just starting to brown.  Add mushrooms and zucchini to saute pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Scantly drizzle balsamic vinegar over saute and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to saute pan.

Saute vegetable for a few minutes, just until soft and fragrant.  Add a light sprinkle of almonds and sunflower seeds.  Toss until just coated, for 1-2 minutes more.

warm salad mushrooms zucchini nuts and seeds.jpg

Spoon  vegetable saute over the romaine lettuce.  Enjoy!





Lightly pierce and microwave onion for 30 seconds before chopping to avoid tears.The microwave heat denatures the onion enzymes that cause the release of sulphuric gas, which are the culprit for making us cry when cutting onions.