Fattoush Salad

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2 rounds pita bread (8- to 12-inches)

2-3 T olive oil

½ t sumac

Salt and pepper

 

Salad

2 C shredded romaine lettuce

1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded, diced small

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

5-6 radishes, sliced

½ C parsley leaves, chopped

¼ C mint leaves, chopped

5-6 scallions, chopped

 

Dressing

½ C lemon juice

½ C olive oil

1 t sumac

1/8 t cinnamon (optional)

Sea salt to taste

 

 

Toast the pita bread in your toaster oven until dried and crisp but not browned. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Break the pita into pieces and put into the heated oil. Fry briefly until browned, tossing frequently. Remove from the oil and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sumac.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salad ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss lightly. Lastly, add the pita chips and toss one more time. Serves 4-6.

 


Succotash

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Danielle spent a recent Saturday at the U.S. Botanic Garden teaching visitors about succotash and handing out samples and recipes. A Native American food, succotash finds it’s way on to many Thanksgiving tables and was a staple for families during the Depression. Traditional succotash will often include tomatoes, sweet peppers and bacon. The name originated in Narragansett, and translates from the Algonquin Indian language meaning “broken corn kernels.” Butter beans, or lima beans as they are often referenced, are grown throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Carolinas and harvested in August and September. Corn is cultivated copiously all across the United States, yet Americans are among the few cultures who eat sweet corn on the cob, which also originated with Native American tribes.

 

1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)

1 cup fresh butter beans (or lima)

½  medium-size sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon fresh chopped dill (or 1 teaspoon dried) – optional

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

Cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. In a medium-sized pot, cover the butter beans with water and bring to a low boil. Cook until beans are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. While beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook until it becomes fragrant and a bit soft, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir well, then add the butter beans. Cook another few minutes until corn is tender and then add the cream. Reduce heat to very low and let the cream soak up into the mixture, add the dill. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 2.

 

 

 

 


Harvest Ratatouille with Bacon

Nothing says Mediterranean more than the classic ratatouille. This spin on an old favorite, amped up with chunks of crispy thick bacon, make it a robust meal.

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1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs)

2 T olive oil

3-4 medium zucchini (or yellow squash or both, about 1½lbs), thickly sliced

1½ lbs. tomatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet bell pepper, largely diced

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

12oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Herbs de Provence

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel strips of the eggplant skin from top to bottom, leaving about an inch between each peel. Cut eggplant into large chunks . (If you prefer to leave the peel on, that’s fine, and likewise, removing it entirely is fine). Transfer the eggplant on to a cookie sheet, salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 

While the eggplant is cooking, heat a Dutch oven (or a large deep skillet) and sauté the bacon until fairly crisp. Transfer pieces to a bowl. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the pan, pour off the excess. Add the onion, garlic and peppers into the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly softened, add the zucchini and Herbs de Provence. Cook the zucchini until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the tomatoes to release the skin. Rinse immediately in cold water and peel the skin from the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, transfer them to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven, add it to the Dutch oven; add the bacon pieces. Let the ratatouille cook together another 20 minutes; adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. At this point the ratatouille can sit in the Dutch oven off the heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Serves 6-8.

 

 


Mediterranean Summer Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Figs and Kasseri

Combining thyme and mint in one dish is common throughout Greece and Turkey. Look for the best summer tomatoes you can find, it will make the salad shine. Pomegranate molasses is found in most supermarkets or any middle eastern grocery store.

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1½ lbs heirloom tomatoes, chopped into ½ inch dice (2-3 large)

½ pint (about 8) figs, quartered

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 T fresh mint leaves, chopped

¼ C red onion, finely chopped

6 C baby arugula or mixed seasonal greens

1½ C crumbled Kasseri cheese (or Feta)

 

Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 t pomegranate molasses (or good quality balsamic vinegar and 1 T honey)

¼ C olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large serving bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients except the cheese. Whisk together the dressing and pour it over the salad. Toss well. Add the cheese and toss lightly. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

Note: make it a main course by adding chunks of cooked chicken.

 


Tomato, Watermelon and Beet Salad with Caramelized Almonds

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2 cups tomatoes, cubed (or cherry tomatoes, halved)

2 cups watermelon, cubed

3 medium-small beets, boiled, peeled and cubed

1 cups slivered almonds

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons natural sugar, preferably maple sugar or evaporated cane sugar

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped, for garnish

 

Dressing:

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar (can substitute apple cider vinegar)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste

 

To cook the beets: place the unpeeled beets in a medium saucepan, and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until fully cooked, about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted indicates they are tender. Drain and cool.

 

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, toss the almonds with the maple syrup and sugar. Spread them evenly on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake until caramelized 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Break up the clumps into small pieces.

 

Remove skins from the beets with a peeler or a knife, cut into cubes roughly the same size as the watermelon and tomatoes, place them in a salad bowl. Cube the tomatoes and watermelon, add them to the beets. Whisk together the vinegar, salt and olive oil, toss into the salad. Serve the salad sprinkled with almonds and garnished with chopped mint. Serves 8.

 


Melon and Blueberry Salad with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

A healthy summer salad that can be amped up with a pinch of cayenne. You can also try it with a bit of Tajin chili-lime powder, available at many supermarkets, including Walmart. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tajin-Fruit-With-Lime-Seasoning-5.3-oz/10849977

 

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2 C Galia or cantaloupe melon, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 C watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 apple, thinly sliced (a combination of red and green is nice, but choose whatever you like)

1 C blueberries

4 C arugula

¼ lb feta cheese, crumbled

 

Dressing:

4 medium shallots

Zest and juice of 1 lime

¼ C apple cider vinegar

1/3 C olive oil

1 T honey

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

½ t Tajin chili-lime powder OR Sumac (optional)

Sea salt, to taste

 

Roast the shallots: Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the shallots in an oven tray with the skin on, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast for 45 minutes. Allow them to cool enough to handle and remove the skins. Transfer the shallots to a food processor, mini-prep or Magic Bullet and add the remaining dressing ingredients. Blend well, taste and adjust for salt and spice.

 

Put the arugula in a large, wide serving bowl and scatter it decoratively with the melons, apple slices and blueberries. Add the crumbled feta and lastly drizzle with the vinaigrette. Extra dressing can be served on the side. Serves 4.


Baby Potatoes with Coconut Flakes and Mustard Seeds

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A delectable complement to any Indian cuisine. Try substituting green beans, cut into thirds, for the potatoes.

1 lb. baby potatoes
2 T coconut oil or ghee
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t turmeric
1 t whole mustard seeds (yellow or black)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
¼ C water or broth
¼ C dried unsweetened coconut flakes
Sea salt

Scrub the potatoes to clean. If using larger potatoes, cut them into large chunks. Pat them dry with a dish towel or paper towel. Heat the oil or ghee in large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, turmeric and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the potatoes. Shake the pan so the potatoes are well coated with the oil, lower the heat a bit and continue to sauté the potatoes until they are browned a bit, about 8-10 minutes. Add the jalapeno and water/broth, cover and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about another 8-10 minutes, adding a small amount of water if they begin to dry out. Just before serving, add the coconut flakes and season with salt. Serves 4-6.