Tag Archives: Greek

Middle Eastern Fattoush Salad

fattoush salad tastefood

~ Fattoush Salad ~

I’ve been on a barbecue bender. It’s not even June, and I need a time-out. This salad presents the perfect interlude. Fattoush is a Middle Eastern garden salad with pita bread. Toasted day-old pita shards serve as croutons while adding flavor and substance to the greens. They also provide a vessel for absorbing the tangy vinaigrette infused with sumac, a ground tart Mediterranean berry found throughout southern Italy and the Middle East. Light, fresh and vegetarian, Fattoush salad is a wonderful antidote to meaty excess and a light and healthy option for easy weeknight dining.

Fattoush TasteFood
Fattoush Salad
Serves 6

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried sumac
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pita:
2 large pita breads
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

Salad:
2 cups arugula leaves
1 head romaine lettuce, washed, leaves torn in pieces
1 small bunch Italian parlsey leaves
1 small bunch  fresh mint leaves
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2  English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish

Whisk all of the vinaigrette ingredients, except the olive oil, together in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil in a steady stream until emulsified.

Preheat oven broiler or grill. Brush pita bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Cut each pita circle in 6 triangles.  Broil or grill, turning once, until crisp and light golden. Remove from heat and cool. Break into pieces.

Combine the pita and the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over and toss to combine. Add additional vinaigrette to taste and toss again.  Serve garnished with extra feta.

Cooking for your Health: Greek Couscous Salad

For the latest installment of Cooking for your Health, which nicely coincides with the Meatless Monday initiative, I present you with this recipe for Greek Couscous Salad. It’s still winter in this part of the world, although the weather is behaving more like spring. Hefty winter salads are a healthy, satisfying and an economical way to get our daily dose of vitamins and nutrients during the cold season, while providing light yet substantial sustenance. This recipe looks to the Greek salad for inspiration. Chopped cucumber, onion, sweet peppers and fresh herbs, rich in Vitamins A and C, are tumbled with whole wheat couscous and protein-rich chickpeas, then topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese. Boosted with lemon, garlic and cayenne, this salad is at once healthy and ridiculously good. I like to serve it simply as-is or scooped into pita bread with a dollop of tsatsiki and harissa. Healthy and meatless don’t get better than this.

Greek Couscous Salad

This salad is very forgiving in its ingredients. The couscous may be substituted with another favorite grain such as farro or quinoa. Feel free to add more or less of the vegetables to the couscous to your taste. The important thing is to have a variety of texture and lots of crunch. Serves 4 to 6.

1 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1/2 small English cucumber, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice, about 1 cup
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 small red jalapeno or Fresno pepper, seeded, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Black olives (kalamata, oil-cured or niçoise) for garnish

Bring water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous and lemon juice. Cover and let sit until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and transfer the couscous to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Gently mix to thoroughly combine. Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with olives.

Entertaining with Mezze: Recipes for Marinated Feta and Baba Ganoush

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What are mezze? A delightful appetizer tradition integral to the cuisines of the Middle East, Turkey and Greece. Mezze consist of numerous small tasters, often simple and fresh, which are meant to whet the appetite before a meal along with a drink. The word mezze comes from the Arabic term t’mazza, which translates as “savor in little bites.” I can’t think of a more convivial and pleasurable way to begin a meal with a group of friends than with a sampling of mezze accompanied by a drink on a warm summer evening.

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Mezze should always include a sampling of dips, such as hummus or tsatsiki, cruditees, bread and olives. For a more substantial selection add  meat keftas or brochettes, simple salads and dolmas (stuffed vegetables and filled grape leaves.) Keep the portions small, set a table in the sunshine and pour a refreshing drink. Enjoy!

Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush is a traditional Middle Eastern dip made with roasted eggplant. In this recipe I have added chickpeas to give the dip more structure. Makes about 2 cups.

1 large eggplant
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
2-3 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves

Pita bread for serving

Preheat oven to 425 F. Roast the eggplant over a gas flame or on a grill until the skin is charred on all sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until very soft when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool. Peel away the skin and scoop the flesh into a bowl of a food processor. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the parsley. Pulse to combine. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight to let flavors develop. Before serving stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. Serve with pita bread.


Marinated Feta with Lemon
Makes about 2 cups

1 pound feta cheese, drained, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 fresh thyme sprigs
1-2 fresh oregano sprigs

Pita bread for serving

Place cheese in a shallow bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour over cheese and gently toss to combine. Fold in thyme and oregano. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Before serving remove thyme and oregano sprigs. Serve with additional black pepper and pita bread.

My Big Fat Greek Dinner: Grilled Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers


Greek Plate

Labor Day is fast approaching and what better way to close out the summer than with a Greek inspired grill party? These Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers are perfect for the barbeque. Their spice and heat stand up well to the char from the grill, especially when accompanied by a fiery Harissa and a creamy Tsatsiki as condiments. Round out the menu with a Fattoush Salad and Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Mint. By the end of the meal your tastebuds will be singing, and your guests will be begging for more. What else could you ask for? Oh, yes – a nice wine and perhaps a little Ouzo.

Grilled Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers
Makes 16

16 (8 inch) bamboo skewers

2 pounds ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Exta-virgin olive oil for brushing
Pita bread

Pre-soak bamboo skewers in warm water 30 minutes before assembling kebabs.
Combine the lamb, herbs and spices in a bowl; mix well. Gather a small handful of the meat in your hand and form it lengthwise around a skewer so that the meat is covering 2/3 of the skewer. Place on plate or tray. Repeat with remaining meat and skewers. Lightly brush the kebabs with olive oil.  (Kebabs may be prepared to this point up to 6 hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.)
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Grill directly over heat, turning to brown on all sides, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Serve with pita bread, tsatsiki and harissa.

My Big Fat Greek Dinner

When it’s hot outside, the food I crave is Greek. These Greek-inspired lamb kebabs are packed with herbs, spices and the heat of cayenne.  They are positively addictive and perfect for a party and easy entertaining.  Nearly everything can be prepared in advance, and a barbeque is required.  What more could you ask for?  Oh, yes: Good friends, great wine and perhaps a little Ouzo.

To complete the menu, serve these spicy, more-ish kebabs with smoky, Middle-Eastern harissa and creamy, garlicky tsatsiki.  Accompany with a greek salad brimming with garden fresh vegetables, feta cheese and kalamata olives and roasted potatoes. By the end of the meal your tastebuds will be singing, and your guests will be begging for more.

Greek Plate

Grilled Spiced Lamb Kebabs
Makes 16

16 small bamboo skewers

2 lbs./1 kg. ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne

Exta-virgin olive oil
Fresh mint or basil leaves
Pita bread
Tsatsiki
Harissa

Soak bamboo skewers in warm water 30 minutes before assembling kebabs.  Drain.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well.  Gather a small handful of the meat in your hand and form it lengthwise around a skewer so that the meat is covering 3/4 of the skewer.  Place on plate or tray.
Repeat with remaining meat and skewers.  Lightly brush the kebabs with olive oil.  (Kebabs can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours in advance.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.)
Grill on barbeque or in oven, turning to brown all sides, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Arrange on plates or serving platter and garnish with fresh mint or basil leaves.  Serve with pita bread, tsatsiki and harissa.

Apples and Tsatsiki

Green Apples 2
September is the gateway to autumn, my favorite season. Everything seems to sparkle in the lower light, perhaps as a last hurrah while the foliage changes its color, leaves begin to fall and nature hunkers down for the winter. Warm, cosy pullovers are pulled from storage; enough time cannot be spent outdoors walking in the woods, raking leaves, picking apples and breathing in the crisp fall air tinged with smells of chimney smoke and fallen wet leaves.  At home, the fire is lit, homemade bread bakes, and the wooden floor creaks beneath my feet while I pad around the kitchen preparing a comforting braised dish for our dinner.

But wait.  I live in California now.  It’s actually hot outside.  I have summer dresses in my closet – not fluffy cardigans. The redwoods don’t lose their leaves. My kitchen floor is tiled, not wooden.  And grilling is the only sane way to cook in this heat.

Where is that New England autumn I grew up with?  Since I moved from Boston many years ago, all ensuing autumns, whether in Europe or here, have been measured, perhaps unfairly, against New England’s version. Even in the less temperate climates of Switzerland, England and Denmark the smells and colors failed to capture the autumnal intensity I remember from my youth, an intensity especially associated with the return to school after summer holidays. Presently, in my new home of Northern California, the children have returned to school, but autumn is nowhere to be found.  In fact, there is talk of an Indian summer happening at this moment.  How can there be Indian summer, when summer hasn’t even ended?  This is just more summer, and hotter.  Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a complaint, just an observation – with a trace of wistfulness. Apparently, you can take the girl out of New England, but you cannot take New England out of the girl.

So, having said all of that, I shall do what I always try to do:  I will get on with it, embracing the moment and the environment – in flip-flops, tank-top and shorts.  The following recipe will not be for an apple tart or a stew.  Rather, it will be a simple staple that I cannot live without on a warm day; a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats and vegetables – especially late, end of summer vegetables. It is also a cool, creamy dip or salad on the side, best served with bread.  The other autumn recipes will follow later on, when I can finally put on the cardigan, and after I have been out apple-picking, my eyes and nose watering from the brisk fesh air.

Tsatsiki

Makes about 3 cups

14 oz. (400 grams) Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 English cucumber, washed, seeded, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Stir in mint leaves.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Transfer to a serving bowl. (Tsatsiki can be refrigerated covered up to 4 hours before serving.)
Before serving, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Garnish with mint leaves.  Serve with peasant bread or baguette.