Friday, February 19, 2016

Butternut Squash And Chickpea Salad With Tahini

This salad has so much flavor and textures. I like to serve it with grilled fish or just with an assortment of other salads and vegetables. Especially when I have vegetarian guests, they just love it!

Serves 4.
  • 2 lbs butternut squash, more or less. Peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups home -cooked chickpeas or canned chickpeas,drained
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • sea salt and black pepper
Tahini Sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a sprinkle of salt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoons water, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss the squash with the garlic, olive oil, allspice, and some salt and pepper. Place on a tray in the over for about 15-25 minutes or until soft. Remove and cool.

While the squash is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix the crushed garlic with the lemon juice and add the tahini. Thin with the water and olive oil and check for seasoning. You should balance between the nutty tahini and lemon.

To assemble the salad, place the squash, chickpeas, red onion and coriander in a mixing bowl. Pour on the tahini sauce and remaining oil and toss gently.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Another Mediterranean dish I love - I make it all summer long, and sometimes even in the winter!
  • 2 pounds large shrimp
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (less if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika ( if you can get smoked sweet Spanish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Makes 4 servings but can be doubled!!

Peel the shrimp, or buy already peeled. Mince the garlic with the salt, mix it with the cayenne and paprika, then make it into a paste with the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix the sauce over the shrimp. Let the shrimp come to room temperature while you turn your grill on or use your broiler. Grill or broil the shrimp on each side for 2 to 3 minutes., serve immediately or at room temperature.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Burrata Cheese with Fresh Pesto Drizzle

Burrata cheese has been described as the "Rolls Royce of fresh mozzarella".  I agree, it's a splurge in pocket book and calories, but it's worth it!!  If you can't find it, you can use goat cheese, or fresh mozzarella.

Pesto
  • 2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
Combine the basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Add the olive oil and roughly puree. Season with salt to your taste.

Cheese and Pesto
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 16 ounces Burrata cheese
  • 1 cup yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • basil sprigs
  • baguette, sliced
8 Servings.

To assemble the dish combine 1/2 cup of the pesto with the olive oil in a small bowl, Thin with 2 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt. Drain the Burrata, place in a dish. Gently break open the cheese in the middle and drizzle it with the pesto mixture. Surround it decoratively with the tomatoes. Sprinkle sea salt, garnish with basil sprigs and serve with sliced baguette.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salad

Make this salad during July, August, and September, when you can get fresh corn and vine ripened tomatoes. Grilling the corn gives it a smoky, rich flavor. If your vegetables aren’t super-flavorful, you can add basil leaves and Kalamata olives to liven this up.
  • 4 ears white or yellow corn with their husks
  • 4 medium tomatoes, ripe and fresh (this is a summer dish!)
  • at least 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
Grill corn (must be completely covered with husk) over medium heat, turning every 5 minutes, until the outer husk is black and the kernels are steaming and soft to the touch, for about 20 minutes depending on heat. Peel back some of the husk and quickly roast one side of each cob, so that some of the kernels are slightly blackened.

Cool the corn completely, letting it sit in the charred husks to flavor the corn. Remove the husks and remove any corn silk. Note - if you don’t want to grill the corn, just remove husks and silk and boil it in ½ inch water for 5-10 minutes.

Slice the kernels off of the cobs using a sharp knife, and holding the cobs vertically. Chop tomatoes and add to corn kernels. Dress with olive oil and salt to taste. Toss, let sit a few minutes for the flavors to mell, and add more oil and salt as desired.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oregano Salad

This is one of my favorite Mediterranean salads!  My daughter and her friends (all 21 year old) love it as well. If you happen to have oregano growing in your garden and you are like me, you love Mediterranean cooking and have an abundance of it, this is a great way to use some of it up. And if you love it like we do, you will be looking forward to the new growth. An added bonus, it is believed in the Arab world to strengthen the memory!!
  • 6 cups (about eight 3/4 ounce packages) fresh oregano, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 15 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ground sumac
  • White onions, halved and thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Arab flat bread or pita for serving
Serves 6.

Combine the oregano leaves, onions, scallions, and tomatoes in a medium bowl.

Whisk the garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice together in a small bowl, and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss, so that all the oregano leaves are coated with the dressing. Season with the salt. Taste, and add more salt or a bit more lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle the sumac over the salad, reserving a bit for the garnish, and toss again.

Transfer the salad to a serving platter, garnish with the onions, and sprinkle the remaining sumac over the onions. Serve immediately, with wedges of  Arab flat bread or pita.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Baked Scallops with Tomatoes and Pistou Sauce

I love this dish, you can make the sauce (pistou French version of pesto) ahead of time. It makes for a great first course!  If you can get good tomatoes before the summer make it, otherwise late summer would be perfect. And if you don't like cilantro, use basil or whatever herbs you like.
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sand and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  • 2 or 3 large, perfectly ripe tomatoes, or use smaller tomatoes as much as you need.
Makes 4 servings.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Combine the herbs, garlic,salt, pepper, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a blender or food processor. Turn on the machine, then add the remainder of the olive oil in a drizzle, (the sauce should be some what thin). Taste it, you might want more salt, lime juice or garlic.

Drizzle a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom of a baking pan that will hold the scallops in one layer. Add the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Slice the tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick and layer over the scallops. season again. Spoon most of the sauce over the tomatoes. Bake until the tomatoes begin to liquefy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve immediately, with crusty bread, pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Walnuts

This dish is so much fun to eat, especially when I'm craving pasta with a sauce and I don't want to eat too much starch. It's so aromatic and full of fall flavors. Makes for a great Mediterranean entree but if there are more people, it's a great side dish for meaty dishes. Plus, it's so easy to make!
  • 1 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 15 sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Serves 6 as a starter.
    Here's how to prepare this gorgeous Mediterranean dish:
    1. Preheat the oven to 400.
    2. Place the squash on a cutting board. Using a large, very sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seed with a spoon and discard.
    3. Place the squash halves on a roasting rack and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 sage leaves in the hollowed -out core of each half.
    4. Bake the squash on the oven's middle rack until the flesh is just soft, about an hour (or longer, it all depends on your oven).  Remove the squash and let it cool until you can work with the flesh comfortably, about 15 minutes.
    5. Using a fork, scrape the meat of the squash away from the skin, so that you get fluffy spaghetti-like strands. Reserve these and discard the skins. This can be made ahead of time, stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
    6. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the walnuts. Toast the nuts and allow the butter to bubble, about 1 minute.
    7. Add the sage leaves. When the leaves release their aroma and begin to crackle in the pan, add the squash and stir to coat it with the flavored butter. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat until the squash is warm, stirring frequently so the flavors get inside the squash.  Season with the rest of the salt and pepper, or to your taste.
    8. Serve on a large plate or platter, topped with the cheese.
    Enjoy!

    Wednesday, January 6, 2016

    Smashed Potatoes

    This dish is so easy to prepare, only three ingredients, but combined it makes for a very flavorful side dish. It's also a good alternative if you are cutting back on dairy.
    • 8 Yukon gold potatoes
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
    • Freshly ground white pepper
    Serves 6

    Preheat the oven to 450 F. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and when the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, discard the skins. In a large bowl, lightly crush the potatoes with a fork. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

    Monday, January 4, 2016

    Cod Baked with Tahini Sauce

    This dish is so simple to make but the taste is very Mediterranean and outstanding. Make the tahini sauce first.

    Tahini Sauce
    • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 5 tablespoons water (more or less)
    • sea salt and black pepper
    Serves 4.

    Crush the garlic clove to a paste with a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the tahini and then thin with the lemon juice. Add water until you have a consistency of cream, check the seasoning, add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to taste.

    Baked Cod
    • 4 thick cod fillets, skin on, about 8 ounces each
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • sea salt and black pepper
    • chopped fresh parsley, small handful
    • 1 lemon quartered
    Serves 4 people.

    Place a frying  pan on the stove, medium high heat. Add the olive oil just enough to cover the pan. Season the cod with salt and pepper. Place it carefully in the pan, skin-side up, shaking the pan to prevent it from sticking. Cook for 1-2 minutes until sealed. Carefully turn the fish over with a spatula and continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes until it's cooked through. It should flake easily, and be white all the way through.  While the fish is still there, pour the tahini sauce into the pan to warm for half a minute. Transfer to warm plates, spooning the sauce over the fish, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the fish and sauce and lemon on the side.

    Monday, April 20, 2015

    Greek Farro Salad

    Serves 4 to 6 Due to great demand for this salad, I feel it's time to start adding more recipes, beginning with this one! Farro is a nutty grain, similar to barely. In the summer, it's a fabulous side dish for grilled meats or fish. Great with grilled lamb. Once you've mastered this recipe, you'll find ways to incorporate seasonal vegetables. This one works all year round.
    • 1 cup farro
    • 1 large tomato, or 4 small, cut into chunks
    • 1 English cucumber, halved, seeded, and cut into chunks
    • 1/2 red onion, diced
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, halved, cored, and cut into chunks
    • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
    • 6 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 2-ounce block feta cheese
    Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil.
    Add the farro, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover.
    Simmer farro till tender, about 20 minutes,
    Drain and rinse the farro in cold water, making sure most of the water is drained.
    While the farro is draining, add the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, olives and basil to a mixing bowl. Add the farro, toss, then add the oil and lemon juice, toss again, add the salt and pepper, toss. Taste, season with more salt or lemon or pepper.
    Put the salad on an oval platter, top with the feta and add whole basil leaves, (if you want) for decoration.

    Hope you enjoy this salad as much as my family and friends do. It makes for a great pot luck dish as well, can be made a day ahead or on the same day few hours earlier.