a totally scrumptious salad: green beans with dukkah roasted chickpeas & pesto dressing

dukkah roasted chickpeas in salad

i was so lucky to find myself standing in Yotam Ottolenghi’s wonderful deli in Nottingham this past summer with my Sahar {cousin-love-sister} trying to narrow down (the hardest part) what to order for a quick lunch. we ended up with way more ahhhmazinngly fresh and tasty food than we could possibly consume (and we can certainly consume a good bit) wrapped in beautiful crisp white boxes to go (the only table of 10 in the back was full of people eating happily with no intentions to leave).Ottolenghi deli Notting Hill we sat on a little wall just outside devouring spiced roasted cauliflowers, grilled aubergine with cucumbers and red peppercorns, mixed beans with dill and coriander seeds, and crushed beetroots with labne and grains of paradise. does it sound as simply delicious, uncomplicated yet sophisticated as it was? i haven’t even started on the desserts yet. maybe it’s best i leave it to your imagination. let me just say i have never seen meringue as large, tasty and beautiful. when we were paying for the food my cousin picked up a jar labeled Dukkah *(see below for more on this Egyptian spice blend) and asked if I’d ever cooked with it. i had not. Ottolenghi deli Notting Hillsaid jar was promptly paid for and tossed in my bag. “i’m sure my cousi will find a great way to use it” she said. well, i finally got around to using the Dukkah in a green bean and roasted chickpea (garbanzo) salad inspired by the genius food we’d shared that glorious sunny day in London. it was such a successful dish: pure and simple, filling, good for you, slightly spicy, crunchy, and really full of flavor. it’s been added to the list of favorites. i’m thinking a fresh jar of Dukkah might be just the excuse for another trip to London. i wish. :-)dukkah roasted garbanzo beans

ingredients for 4-6 servings of salad:

  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (see roasted garbanzo bean recipe here-add Dukkah to the beans prior to roasting)-for roasting the beans you will need extra virgin olive oil, spices such as dukkah or cumin and cayenne pepper  for spiciness, sea salt, & pepper (to taste)
  • 2-3 cups cleaned haricots verts (or green beans), cooked for just a few minutes in lightly salted rapidly boiling water (until just tender) and then cooled down in ice bath to retain color and crispness
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (julienned)
  • 1 cup sliced (cubed) ripe tomatoes
  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tbs home made walnut-parsley easto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 of a small lemon or a lime, freshly juiced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup or lightly more crumbled french feta cheese

for the walnut-parsley pesto blend together in a blender with a steel blade:

green bean salad with pesto dressing

 

  • 1 large bunch (1 cup) fresh organic flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh organic basil (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 10-12 raw walnuts
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a few tsp of water may be needed to add to the blender to soften the pesto

build the salad in a shallow bowl starting with the cold (cooked) beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, chives or scallions, and crumbled cheese. top with slightly cooled but still crisp roasted garbanzo beans. dress with pesto dressing and mix just prior to serving. for the dressing combine 4-5 tbs of the pesto with lemon/lime juice and a few more tsp of olive oil if needed, mix well. taste and adjust seasoning. drizzle over the salad just before serving.

*Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture often served (marinated in olive oil) with pita bread. to make your own you will need:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

toast the sesame seeds and hazelnuts in the oven (separately), then combine all ingredients and grind in food processor for 3-4 minutes.

 

 

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a simple chicken curry with potatoes and peas

20 minute dinners

chicken curry is one of those go-to meals i {go to} when i’ve run out of ideas for quick and easy meals involving chicken. i have no fixed recipe and make no exact measurements, so it all depends on what’s available, my mood, and how much time i’m willing to spend on preparing the meal. after taking inventory of possible ingredients, i make a quick “paste” in the blender before simmering the (sauteed) chicken and vegetables in it for about 30-45 minutes. sometimes the resulting curry comes out so spicy it is almost difficult to eat (not really), but often times it is surprisingly well balanced and delicious despite the rather casual process involved in making it happen. more often than not we are perfectly satisfied and happyhappy after polishing off the steaming bowl of curry topped with loads of chopped cilantro and a side of fluffy basmati rice (or steamed quinoa if i’m being good). i’m pretty sure if (when) you make this curry and taste the results you’ll be {going to it} as often as i do.

quick & easy curry ingredients for 4-6:

 

anti-inflammatory curry

  • 6-8 organic chicken tenders (or about six-eight pieces of chicken)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cup (more or less) frozen peas (or fresh)
  • 3-4 small young potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbs virgin unrefined coconut oil
  • 3-4 stalks lemongrass
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • fresh ginger, a good nice chunk (about 1 tbs)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 tbs good quality curry powder
  • 1 cup (or slightly more) coconut milk
  • 4-6 lime leaves
  • 1-2 tsp raw sugar
  • a small bunch of chopped fresh cilantro
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper (to taste)

anti-inflammatory curry

1. make your paste: add to the blender the softer parts of the lemon grass (peel, trim, cut in smaller pieces), ginger, shallot, garlic, powders (cinnamon, curry, turmeric, cumin), sugar, jalapeño pepper (adjust amount to taste for spiciness), sea salt, pepper, fresh lime juice, and 1/2 of the coconut milk. blend until you have a smooth paste.

2. in a dutch oven or skillet sautee chicken and onions in 1 tbs coconut oil. remove from pot, then heat the remaining coconut oil and add the paste to the hot oil. allow the sauce  to cook and start to thicken slightly (bubbles a bit) while stirring. add the chicken and onions back to the pot with the heated paste, along with the potatoes, lime leaves, and about 1-2 cups water. bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken and potatoes are fully cooked. make sure to adjust water if necessary.

3. about 15-20 minutes before serving add remaining coconut milk and peas, stir carefully. serve with fresh chopped cilantro on top (or drizzled with this green sauce) and steamed rice on the side. s-p-i-c-y, right?

cooking minette's curry

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back to basics: simple zucchini & tomatoes with walnut pesto

a simple dish, a small compromise, and a most beautiful october sunset over the ocean:

La Jolla fall sunsets

in preparation and anticipation of the fast approaching holiday season with all the glorious food consumption it entails (it’s bad! already can’t stop thinking about what sides and pies to serve this thanksgiving) i’ve made the decision to feed us a lighter, simpler, and predominantly vegetarian diet for the next few weeks. after a few nights of different vegetable soups and a nice salad nicoise, it was time for a non liquid meal on the warmer side. lately i’ve been trying to cook with what i have as opposed to shopping for specific recipes, so i wanted to use the beautiful light green zucchinis i had picked up at the farmers market along with a large sweet onion, tomatoes (always abundant in my kitchen), garlic, and fresh basil. the plan was to serve the dish with yogurt and flat bread, sort of in line with a persian “borani kadoo”, but i realized i had a slight problem.

cooking minette's zucchini with tomatoes & pestowe have a dear visitor staying with us, and he doesn’t  like garlic at all, nor basil, for that matter. the dish would survive without the garlic, but my basil was starting to become slightly wilted and had to be used: pesto! dinner would be a simple “borani” (a typical persian appetizer served with yogurt) with an optional drizzle of lemony walnut pesto. everyone was happy. oh, and the sunset picture? i just had to share the magical moment i snapped with my phone a few nights ago-there are few things more beautiful than the special light of an autumn sunset over the pacific!

Image 1

                                          for 4 servings:

  • 4-6 light green zucchinis (peeled or not, your choice), sliced lengthwise in two or three portions
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced in rounds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (or omit and use pesto)
  • sliced ripe tomatoes (amount depends on what type of tomatoes you are using), sliced to about same thickness as zucchini
  • 1 tbs olive or avocado oil (best not to use olive oil for high heat cooking)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional if serving with yogurt without pesto)
  • for pesto see recipe

borani kadoo with pesto

in a heavy skillet or frying  pan, heat the oil, then add onions and allow them to caramelize (cook while stirring occasionally on med/low heat until they become light brown and glassy) before adding the zucchinis (and turmeric & garlic if using) and frying on both sides (turn carefully with kitchen thongs). season with salt and pepper. cover with tomatoes, and allow them to cook  (stirring very carefully if necessary because the zucchinis break easily- or cut zucchinis in halves before frying ) on medium/low heat for about 15-20 minutes. serve when any liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and thickened.

 

 

 

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summer salad nights: dijon mustard baked chicken breast salad with roasted potatoes and peppers

photo

i made this salad by chance tonight (thankfully, because it ended up being so good)-having no idea what to make for dinner, i started at the freezer this morning where i found four organic chicken breasts. the chicken was defrosted as i began building my salad starting from the top refrigerator drawer where i found several bell peppers (including a slightly shriveled up yellow one). working my way down i found lettuce, organic green onions, ripe avocados, and a few yellow potatoes. since the chicken takes a while to cook, i started on the marinade right away:

dijon mustard marinade

for the marinade:

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
  • sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
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