Fun recipes from last May…
Mediterranean in May
From the book Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean.
1 1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
Pour water in a large bowl or kitchen aid mixer. Sprinkle with yeast. Whisk to dissolve. Add salt and stir. Add the flours. Stir until dough forms into a ball.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5-8 minutes or use a kitchen aid mixer.
Lightly grease a bowl with oil. Transfer dough to the bowl. Cover with a wet towel in a warm place and let rise for an hour.
One reason, I was excited to try this recipe was that it used all my favorite vegetables, was egg less and used less cheese.
I only made 1/4 of the recipe. The book Vegetarian Times cooks Mediterranean has many healthy recipes, but one downside is that there are only a few photographs of the final product. I don’t know if what I made looks anything close to what it is supposed to look like. I only have to go with the final taste and whether I like it or not. This one was a little difficult, since I was using phyllo sheets and I wasn’t sure how to fold or create a tart. Methinks pastry sheets might have been good here? The end product was delicious, although I am not sure it looked good and professional. A photograph in the book would have been good!
Either way, I had used only a quarter of the phyllo sheets to make Baklava, so I could keep the rest to try other fun recipes from the book.
2 oz of dry, sun-dried tomatoes (I think I used a little more)
1-2 tbsp milk (add as needed)
5 oz of fresh spinach (or frozen)
1.5 oz goat cheese (I used feta instead)
1/4 phyllo sheets
1/8 cup fresh rosemary
1 scallion, trimmed and minced
1 medium zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced (I didn’t have any)
1-2 roasted peppers, cut long
3-4 oz marinated artichokes
a few basil leaves
pine nuts (I didn’t use any)
white wine (I didn’t use any)
1 garlic clove
salt and fresh ground pepper
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Soak sun dried tomatoes in boiling water for 7-10 minutes. Slice thinly.
I used fresh red pepper. So I sliced them thinly, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
Process spinach,milk, cheese, garlic, scallion, rosemary, salt and pepper until smooth. If mixture is too dry, add more milk.
Place a skillet on the stove, add olive oil, white wine (I used white wine vinegar instead :-)), salt and pepper and saute on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to paper towels. Add onions to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Add mushrooms if using and saute for 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to dry.
Line a deep dish pan with phyllo sheets. I used quartered sheets, so I layered them to complete the corners of the circular dish. Brush each sheet lightly with olive oil. Continue piling until all sheets are gone. Fold down the edges over the dish. Spread the spinach mixture over the crust. Add sauted zucchini, onions, mushrooms if using, roasted peppers, sheaun dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Bake for 15 minutes. If the crust is browning, turn the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, else continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes until the phyllo is golden and crisp.
Sprinkle with fresh basil, and pine nuts. Tuck in some fresh sprigs of rosemary and serve warm.
Makes about 3-4 helpings.
Mediterranean in May
Baklava is a traditional Turkish dessert made with crisp, phyllo sheets layered with cinnamon flavored nut filling and soaked in fragrant sweet syrup.
A few weeks ago, I saw Baklava as one of the sweet desserts in Whole Foods cookie section where you can buy cookies and more by weight. Baklava has always been one of my favorites, so I couldn’t resist a piece. Being health conscious, I had limited myself to one piece. It was delicious. Since then I have been craving baklava. Each time, I am in Whole Foods, I make it a point to check out the cookies and dessert section to see if Baklava is among the offerings. But sadly, the last few weeks it has not made it’s appearance again.
Last time I was in Whole Foods, I finally picked up some organic phyllo sheets and decided to make Baklava at home. I have made it once before, so I know, it is not too difficult. Coincidentally, I am exploring Mediterranean recipes in May, from the book Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean, which has a recipe for Baklava, of course!
Note: I only made 1/2 or less of the recipe. I cut my phyllo sheets into half and further cut the 1/2 sheet to another half to make the Baklava. I found the end product to be a little dry and added more syrup (an additional 1/2 cup).
For the Baklava:
1 1/2 cup, chopped, unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachio or hazelnuts)
1/12 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter
some cinnamon powder
1/2 phyllo dough sheets (cut in half)
For the sugar syrup
1/2 cup sugar (I used light brown cane sugar)
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon rose water or vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven the 375 degrees F. In a small bowl combine the nuts, sugar and cinnamon powder.
Prepare a baking pan by lightly brushing with some melted butter. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough and brush with butter. Repeat with three more sheets. Evenly spread a third of the nut mixture. Cover with three more sheets of phllo, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Add another third of the nut mixture and continue till all the nut mixture is gone. Add the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter.
Bake the pastry for 30 minutes. Increase the heat to 350 degrees F and bake until the pastry is golden for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the water for the syrup to a boil in a saucepan. Add sugar and cinnamon stick and let simmer on medium low for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens. Remove the saucepan from heat. Add rose water and lemon juice and set aside.
Pour the syrup over the hot, baked pastry and allow to cool. Cut the pastry, before serving.
Mediterranean in May
I make a lot of soups, especially in Spring, Fall and Winter when the outside temperatures are cooler. There is something about sipping warm, soothing soup with some croutons or crusty bread, that is so appealing. Summertime too there are other soups,like Gazpacho which are refreshing.
Typically, my soups tend to be loaded with vegetables and beans or lentils. This one too has a lot of vegetables but for a change it uses Wheat Berries. Like Farro, wheat berries come from a variety of wheat, the only difference being farro is grown in warmer climates and wheat berries in the colder climate regions.
This recipe is adapted from the Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean book. Also known as Zuppa di farro, this soup is a specialty of Apulia in Southern Italy. Filled with herbs, wheat berries and an assortment of vegetables, it is a delicious and a soothing soup for a cold day, and even on a warm, spring day.
I adapted the original recipe to make 1/4 the quantity prescribed. Makes about 3-4 servings.
1/4 cup wheat berries
2 cups water
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 yellow pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh Italian Parsley
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
pinch of saffron
salt and fresh ground pepper
Soak the wheat berries for two hours or overnight. When ready to cook, rinse and cover with double the amount of water. To cut amount of time necessary to cook the wheat berries, I decided to pressure cook them. If cooking stove top, bring to a boil and cook on medium low flame for an hour or so, adding water as needed till the wheat berries are cooked and soften.
In a separate pan, add olive oil, onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add wheat berries, basil, bay leaf, parsley, thyme and saffron and bring to a boil. Reduce flame and let simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, garnish with basil and parsley and serve warm with bread or croutons.
Mediterranean in May
I’ve had the book: Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean for a while, but haven’t cooked any recipes from it at all. In order to get fit and follow a Mediterranean diet, I am planning to try out recipes from this book during the month of May. I plan to adapt the recipes to my personal liking, so they will most likely never follow the original to a T. Also I might cut back the quantity to make only 1-2 servings.
Involtini in Italy means thin slices that are rolled with a filling. It can be slices of beef, pork or chicken. For a vegetarian, eggplant will do nicely 🙂
1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/8 fresh parsley
a few chopped walnuts or pine nuts
1 tbsp plumped raisins
1/8 cup orange juice
1 garlic clove
salt to season
Preheat the broiler.
Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on a clean towel, sprinkle with salt and let stand to allow juices to drain. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold water, pat dry and brush with olive oil on both sides. Broil about 3 minutes each side until slightly charred.
Meanwhile, mix bread crumbs, parsley, nuts, raisins and garlic. Add orange juice, drizzle some olive oil and mix well.
Layout each slice of broiled eggplant on a flat surface, place 1/2 tbsp of filling on one end of the slice. Roll the slice, and place on a warm serving plate. Repeat for other eggplant slices.
Goes well as a side or an appetizer.
Adapted from the book Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean.
Mediterranean Spinach Farro Salad
I came across farro a while ago and bought some at the local Whole Foods store and even dug around online for some healthy and tasty recipes. That was then. The bought farro sat in a bottle on the shelf for a few months, until this week 🙂
By chance I came across this fun recipe at Williams Sonoma and for a change I had all the ingredients and it’s what was for lunch today. Here is my adapted version of it:
2 cups of baby spinach
1-2 radishes sliced thin
1/4 cup farro cooked
1/4 yellow pepper sliced
1/4 cucumber peeled and sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1-2 tbsp capers
some walnuts (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
Bring 1/2 cup water to boil and add the farro. Reduce heat, cover and cook the farro until the grains soften and all the water evaporates. Add more water if necessary to cook the farro. The farro can be cooked the previous day (which I did) and refrigerated. Set aside.
Whisk the lemon juice and oil with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl mix all the salad vegetables and cooked farro. Top with walnuts and feta cheese. Drizzle with dressing before serving.
Turned out pretty good. Farro is quite chewy and filling. Next time I think I will also add some raisins or dried cranberries.