Tag Archives: feta

Old Is New Again

I love grain salads. They are visually appealing, nutritious, and satisfying. We eat a lot of tabbouleh, and salads made of wild rice, and quinoa. I discovered a new grain recently called Einkorn. It is the oldest known grain on earth. Einkorn is easier to digest and contains more protein and antioxidants than modern wheat. It can also be used by individuals that are gluten free. I say it’s a win, win. Personally, I love the chew and texture of this ancient grain. Although I enjoy this particular salad with Einkorn grain, you can also use spelt, kamut, regular wheat berries or quinoa. The choice is completely up to you, but you owe yourself the chance to enjoy this delicious ancient grain.

GREEK EINKORN SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups raw einkorn or wheat berries
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

FOR THE GREEK VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons local honey
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. To make the vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in a pint jar and shake vigorously. You can also place all the ingredients except your oil in a bowl, and slowly whisk in oil until emulsified.
  2. Place all your salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for the feta cheese. Pour vinaigrette over ingredients and stir to combine. Refrigerate a couple of hours.
  3. Place grain salad in attractive bowl and top with feta cheese.

Serves 6-8

“In the end, the world returns to a grain.”
― Dejan Stojanovic

Dippidy-Do-Da

We farm for a living, and I hate the heat; go figure! The one thing that keeps me going is all the fresh produce we grow or purchase from the farmers market. My head literally spins with the endless options for creative food and meals. This time we are focusing on fresh corn. This is a riff on Mexican Street Corn or Elote (grilled corn on the cob). I put up quite a bit of corn during summer for chowder, fresh corn polenta and this particular dip. That way, we can enjoy all that goodness during the winter months, when fresh is in short supply. It’s full of summer flavors and can feed a crowd on short notice.

I prefer white corn for this, but any corn will do. You can use Mexican crema or sour cream, salty Cotija cheese or feta depending on what you may have on hand. I like to use a cast-iron skillet for this, so I can take it from stove top to oven, and then to table all in one pan. You can also use a skillet and pour it into a baking dish for serving. Either way it’s sure to be a hit!

MEXICAN CORN DIP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 medium white onion (like Sierra Bianca), chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Juice of one lime, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup crumbled Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled and divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Tortilla chips for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add corn, garlic, onion and jalapeño and cook, without stirring, until lightly charred, about 3-5 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and add Mexican crema or sour cream, mayo, half of the lime juice, spices, and half of the cheese. Mix well.
  2. Spoon contents into 2 quart baking dish if using, or place cast-iron skillet into oven. Bake until cheese is melted and outer edges begin to bubble, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Drizzle remaining lime juice oven corn, sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with chopped cilantro.
  4. Serve with taco chips.

Serves 6-8

“Life without Mexican food, is like no life at all!”

Little Orbs of Joy

I often find that if I’m making something that freezes well, why not double or triple the recipe? I often do this with sauces, condiments, caramelized onions and especially this recipe , Lamb & Feta Meatballs. If I make a single recipe I get approximately 16-18 meatballs. Two weeks ago I quadrupled the recipe using 4 pounds of ground lamb and made 60 (enough for 5-6 meals)!!

These little orbs are versatile and full of flavor. Plate them with last weeks recipe for Roasted Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce, place them in a pita with tomato and tahini sauce, use them in spaghetti and meatballs, serve them with tzatziki sauce. You can serve them as an appetizer by stabbing them with bamboo skewers with a sauce on the side. You get the idea. They freeze beautifully, so with a little effort, you are ready for a quick delicious option at a moments notice. If you have a food saver you are golden, if not, place frozen meatballs in a quart freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.

LAMB AND FETA MEATBALLS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground lamb
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated on micro-planer
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, without crusts, pulsed in a food processor
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Lamb meatballs ready to freeze
Frozen meatballs vacuumed sealed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. If making a single batch, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (you will use two of these to freeze the meatballs prior to vacuum sealing them if doubling or tripling your recipe).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, place the ground lamb, feta, thyme leaves, garlic, breadcrumbs, ground cinnamon, olive oil, along with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands. Using a meatball scoop or your hands, shape into golf ball size balls. You should end up with about 18 meatballs, placing them uniformly on baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  3. If freezing extra, place sheet in freezer overnight. Once frozen place 10-12 meatballs in a vacuum seal bag or freezer bag and seal. To defrost place bag in sink of cool water for about an hour. If making a single batch place in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until browned. Serve hot.
Ready for future eating!
Delicious!

“Preserving food is an excellent bank account.”

Deep Roots

As we prepare to self-quarantine for the winter, I am wondering how many people really enjoy being home? What is the meaning of home for each of us? Is it easier to be home as we age? By the time I turned 30, I had already moved 36 times in my life. I remember never really feeling at ease or content when I was at home. The following 36 years I have moved 3 times. I have lived in a rural climate now for 14 years and I find that my sense of place has changed dramatically since I lived in the urban world.

My writing desk overlooks both marsh and lake. I face a large window that beckons I not only write, but rest in this environment. I stare at our bird feeders and the weather for long periods of time. I learn subtleties, and patterns of nature and the seasons. I find this calming; and who wouldn’t want to feel calmer during these days of upheaval?

It seems to me, when I lived in the city I was much more interested and connected to both entertainment and personal possessions. Being pleasing and accepted by people was of prime importance. It wasn’t until I began searching out periods of solitude and quiet that I began requiring those things to stay balanced. As I stay in one place, my roots grow deeper in the soil, providing a vessel for my own thoughts and perspectives. I feel held. My relationship with my wife is nurtured by this sense of place. We have our rhythms and interests that continue the story of this land. We both love the quiet, growing and cooking food along with sharing that food with others. For some, the meaning of roots is about tradition, for us the meaning of roots is about the land, food and relationships. Our relationships are based on mutual respect and love. They are reciprocal in the most fundamental of ways. We have each others backs. We can ask for help, and often it is given without request. There is laughter, discussion and heart. As Joni Mitchell once said, “All we ever wanted was to come in from the cold.”

The following recipe has some flexibility to it. I love purchasing (or growing) beets with greens. The greens are beautiful, healthy and add color and interest to this meal salad. If beet greens are not available, arugula or spinach are a good option, but use them raw rather than sautéed. I also enjoy alternative dressing ideas. The basic dressing uses extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic. Try using extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and peach or apricot jam. Beets love being pared with stone fruits; or you can use orange juice. Free you imagination to add interest and surprise. If you find yourself out of capers, chop up some olives; and chevre or goat cheese can easily substitute for feta. No pistachios? Try toasted walnuts.

Savory, hearty and delicious

ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH FETA & PISTASCHIOS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 7 medium-large beets with greens
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted pistachios
Beets ready to go into oven
Vibrant beet greens

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Cut tops off beets; reserve greens. Arrange beets in single layer in a baking dish; add 1 cup water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until beets are tender when pierced with a knife; about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool until you can handle them and peel off the skins. I pick them up with paper towels and slip them off.
  3. Cut beets in half and slice thinly. Transfer to large bowl and mix with capers and 1/4 cup dressing. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Cut stems off beet greens and discard. Wash greens, then with some water still clinging to the leaves, transfer to large pot or skillet. Stir over high heat until just wilted but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain greens; squeeze out excess moisture. Cool; chop coarsely. Transfer to medium bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange beets in center of platter. Surround with greens; sprinkle with feta and pistachios. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.

Serves 4-6

Yum.

“A tree with strong roots laughs at storms. –Malay proverb

Mediterranean Dreaming

After 3 inches of rain last night, it is a steamy, warm day here in Michigan.  Although the farm really needed the rain, humidity generally puts me into salad mode; and there is no better time for salads than summer. I enjoy leafy salads, I like to get outside the box and create salads that use other ingredients.  Anything Mediterranean comes to mind, so a layered salad of hummus, ground lamb, and veggies hits just the right cord.

This layered salad makes a particularly nice presentation at a gathering on a large platter. You can also make individual plates if you rather. The hummus can be made a few days ahead to save time on the day of assembly. Macerating the cherry tomatoes in red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil adds even more flavor. You can also top it with crumbled feta cheese. Garnish it with parsley, cilantro or mint. It makes a good appetizer for a crowd along with other Mediterranean sides or can be used as a main coarse. I find that I typically have leftovers after I construct the salad, which are just as good the following day. Serve with pita or naan.

MEDITERRANEAN LAYERED SALAD

FOR HUMMUS (from my first cookbook Basics with a Twist:In

  • 2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained but reserving their liquid; save 1/4 cup chickpeas for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

METHOD:

  1. Place drained chickpeas in a four cup glass measuring cup and heat in your microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Heating your chickpeas allows them to break down in the food processor much easier.
  2. Feed your garlic through the tube of your food processor.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except liquid from chickpeas. This liquid will be used to thin the hummus if needed.
  4. Process for at least 3 minutes. Your hummus should be very smooth and creamy. If you feel you need to thin it slightly, add chickpea liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Taste for salt and/or additional lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

FOR LAMB:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout

METHOD:

  1. Brown the ground lamb in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion, pine nuts and Ras el Hanout. Saute until onion is soft and translucent. Depending on the age of the lamb, you may need to take a few paper towels held with tongs and absorb any unwanted fat. This can sit until you are ready to assemble your salad.

FOR VEGETABLES AND GARNISH:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups sliced cucumbers, quartered
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt, such as Maldon
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, cilantro or mint
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Place cherry tomatoes in a small bowl; sprinkle with red wine vinegar, olive oil and a little coarse salt. Mix and let macerate for 30 minutes. Keep tomatoes and cucumber separate.
  2. Chop herbs.

ASSEMBLY:

On large decorative platter, spoon hummus over bottom leaving a little space near the edges.  Next top with lamb leaving an edge to show the hummus. Sprinkle reserved chickpeas around the edges.

Sprinkle cucumber over lamb. With a slotted spoon drain cherry tomatoes, then sprinkle them on top of cucumbers. Garnish with herbs. Sprinkle with crumbled feta if using.

Serves 4

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“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt

The Best of Both Worlds

Now that our shelter in place order has been extended to May 15th, we are all seeking comfort through various ways. For me, cooking and food are my go to sources for calming myself. It is gradually getting warmer, we are planting in our greenhouse, the garlic is growing, and my daffodils are blooming.

These days, when I ponder what to make, it comes from a place of what is available? It becomes a combination of home-canning, frozen, fresh and pantry staples. I must say that when you put a little thought into it, you will be surprised at what you can come up with to warm the belly. This time it was a fusion of both Greek and Italian cuisines that worked quite well together. I love to make spanakopita, but was out of phyllo dough, I had my quarts of roasted tomato sauce and uncooked lasagna sheets. Then it hit me, why not combine the spanakopita in a lasagna? Bingo, the best of both worlds. It gave us a couple days of comfort food.

SPANAKOPITA LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 sheets of oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounce bag of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained in a wire strainer
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 green onions, using both white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 10 ounces crumbled feta
  • 16 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 quart of roasted tomato sauce (or equivalent of jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9 ceramic pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the drained spinach in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out the remaining water. Place spinach in a large bowl.
  3. Add lemon zest, dill, green onions, garlic, eggs, feta and goat cheese. Mix gently but thoroughly until combined.
  4. In a bowl, combine your pasta sauce with the two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Place a ladle full of pasta sauce in bottom of baking dish, and evenly spread it. Place three oven-ready lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 cup of filling on each sheet and distribute evenly. Top with three more lasagna sheets, repeat with filling. Repeat one more time. You should have 3 layers of spinach mixture.
  5. On the top of the final lasagna sheets, pour an equal amount of pasta sauce over the 3 groups of layered sheets. Top with mozzarella. Cover with foil and place in pre-heated oven. Bake covered for 25 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbling.
  6. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Serves 6

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“A good cook works by the fire of imagination not merely by the fire in the stove.”

Robert Coffin

Grandma Knew Best

Entering week five of sheltering in place, during the novel corona-virus pandemic; and  I’m discovering skills I didn’t know I had.  I’ve never been much of a baker.  Not because I don’t like wonderful baked goods, but because I have an aversion to measuring.  Writing cookbooks was challenging when trying to deliver a consistent product.  I basically wing it, taste, adjust, taste again as I go along.  Being at home consistently for this length of time has taught me several things.  One, why should I be talking myself out of something, when I really should be talking myself into something new?  I’ve always played with food, why not play with baking?  So I’ve been starting with savory quick breads and muffins with great results.  If there’s a down side to this exploration, it’s that  I’m now slightly obsessed, and one thing is leading to another.

This week it’s soda bread.  My wife Val inherited a 100 year old cast iron skillet from her Grandmother years ago (along with a classic potato masher), so I wanted to try out a soda bread using a skillet, rather than a free-form shape.  I’m coming around to the beauty of these old skillets for many uses, and I enjoy the historical continuity of using something that was handed down from a previous generation.  I mixed the bread in my Grandmother’s pottery mixing bowl, so I was channeling traditions from both families.  It felt wholesome somehow, and a basic quick bread like this could have been made by either of our Grandmother’s.  Val makes a delicious golden raisin and candied ginger scone that I love, and this reminded me of that texture with a savory profile.

I’m afraid that I will run out of flour, before I run out of ideas; but the experimentation was certainly worth it.  Next challenge, homemade pasta.

SKILLET SODA BREAD WITH ROASTED RED PEPPERS & FETA

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 whole roasted red pepper, (I used jarred), drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, oregano, black pepper and cubed butter, using a pastry cutter or fork to incorporate the butter.  The mixture should resemble course crumbs.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and add it to the flour mixture.  Combine the dough using a large wooden spoon or spatula until it’s almost incorporated.
  3. Add the roasted peppers and feta and finish mixing.  Kneed the dough with your hands for a few minutes until comes together and transfer it to a greased cast iron pan (I use ghee).  Using a serrated knife, score the bread into four sections to help prevent it from bubbling up in the center.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Serve warm with butter.

Serves: 8

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“People who give you their food, give your their heart.”  –Cesar Chavez

 

Opportunity Knocks

As we all creep forward during this time of uncertainty; nature, reading, planting our vegetable farm and cooking are keeping me grounded and hopeful.  Rural living is a calming lifestyle that continues to nourish us.  Even with the farm year slowly ramping up, we have an established rhythm for daily life, that is forward thinking and hopeful.  Regardless of how this crisis plays out, if we can’t get to the farmers market to sell our food, it will certainly not be wasted.  We will be canning, along with making sure that our neighbors have access to fresh food. I respect that our farmers market is staying open, with a plan of action and necessary precautions.  Young farmers and businesses need to serve their communities and stay open as long as possible.  As elders, with my wife having a compromised immune system, we have been self-sheltering with the understanding that growing food is the very best use of our time.

It is often said that the character of a individual is how they respond to adversity.  After all happiness is an inside job; but I admit to having several sleepless nights. I am keenly aware of my privilege in feeling relatively safe during this time.  My heart hurts for people who have lost their jobs, businesses that have had to close, people without a sufficient safety net to get them through this time of uncertainty.  I trust the creativity and innovation of people, much more than the total lack of leadership at the federal level.  I know we will collectively get through this stressful time.  It is my hope that lessons will be learned that can lift all of us up, in the face of future challenges.

Actually, self-sheltering has been our rural life style.  When people come to the farm to laugh, cook and eat with us, they often say how they need to be a part of something with purpose.  Urban living has its own forms of signature stress.  They see a well lived in home, with a rich history, surrounded by land and vegetables, as something distant from their own reality.  We look forward to being able to welcome our friends back into our home and break bread together.  In the meantime, reading, writing, planting and preparing food is our devotion.

I usually make the following recipe during the summer months, but I have found that the use of frozen corn and the frozen cherry tomatoes that I put up during the last farm season create a beautiful and delicious alternative.  Depending on your circumstances and location, most grocery stores have cherry tomatoes even this time of year.

FRESH CORN POLENTA WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ears of fresh corn (or 6 cups frozen)
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 7 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen cherry tomatoes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish

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INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE TOMATOES:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour cherry tomatoes and garlic onto sheet pan and drizzle 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.  Roll the tomatoes around with the palms of your hands to evenly coat.
  2. Sprinkle the tomatoes and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and toss the tomatoes.  Return to oven for 20-30 minutes more or until the tomatoes have slit and are slightly brown in some places.

FOR POLENTA:

  1. If using fresh corn, peel the leaves and silk from each ear, then chop off the pointed top and stalk.  Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels, taking care to remove as much of the ‘milk’ below the kernels as possible, while stabilizing the cob on a cutting board.  You will need 6 cups of kernels.
  2. Place the fresh or frozen kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with water.  Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer.  Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid in a Pyrex measuring cup.
  3. Process for several minutes; you want to break as much of the kernel case as possible.  Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
  4. Return the corn paste to the pan with some of the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10-15 minutes; or until the corn mixture thickens to a mashed potato consistency. (the more liquid you use, the longer this process will take; watch carefully in case it sputters)
  5. Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Spoon some of the polenta into individual shallow bowls,.  Spoon roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic on top.  Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.

Serves: 4

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“When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them— some food, a place in our homes, our time— not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched.”  —Pope Francis

 

 

Anyway You Slice It

I eat a lot of salads.  I never tire of the crunch factor.  The winter is a great time to step outside the box and look for salads that don’t rely on lettuce as the main ingredient.  I usually look for seasonal, stable vegetables; and brassicas are an easy solution.  Every thing from cauliflower, to broccoli, to cabbage offer creative and healthy options for salads with a seasonal flare.

Another thing to keep in mind is to include a variety of textures, color and flavor profiles.  Sweet against salty, is one I often use to help keep it interesting.  This salad has all the elements that I enjoy.  It’s colorful, crunchy, sweet and salty all at the same time.  It has great staying power and lasts for several days in the refrigerator.

Red Cabbage Salad with Dates and Feta

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small red cabbage (or half of a large one), halved, cored, then quartered and sliced very thin
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Taste and adjust with more lime juice and salt.  It should taste well seasoned.  Let macerate on counter for 30-45 minutes, to slightly soften cabbage.
  2. Toss dressed cabbage with half of the dates. and feta.  Arrange in a bowl or on a platter, and sprinkle the rest of the dates and feta on top.  Garnish with parsley and toasted almonds.

Serves 4-6

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 “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.””

 

Anyway You Slice It

I absolutely love Mediterranean food.  No matter if it’s from Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Spain or France, I love it all.  Fresh vegetables, legumes, olives, olive oil, cheese and an array of spices make for endless savory meals.  I find that if something you eat is truly satisfying and delicious, you eat less not more.  This Middle Eastern Tart can be served as an appetizer or entree, depending on whether or not you use both sheets of puff pastry, and how many you are serving.  Served with a salad, it is easily a complete meal.  It comes together pretty quickly and is showy enough for company.  The first time I made it there was left-over filling, which I stuffed into peppers and baked the next day.

MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB TART

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 or 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, choppped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas (I use canned and drained)
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (page    , or alternatively 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a saute pan over medium heat add olive oil, onion and garlic until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add ground lamb, breaking up the lamb with a spoon and brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives and spices.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (two baking sheets if using both puff pastry sheets).  Roll out slightly, then make a one-inch rimmed line on the inside edges with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.  Prick the dough with fork all over in center area.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and spoon mixture evenly in the center of each pastry sheet.  Top with feta cheese, brush pastry edges with beaten egg (optional) and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until puffed and edges are golden brown.
  4. Top with chopped parsley and cut into desired portions; 4, 6 or multiple if serving as appetizer.  Serve.

Serves 2-4 as entree

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“Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” –Harriet von Horne.