Provençal Leeks



We learned this recipe quite literally at our mother’s apron strings. As children, we spent summers on the beach of a coastal small village on the Cote d’Azur. Our mother occasionally brought in Madame Victoria, an elderly woman from Provence who then lived in St. Maxime, where she cooked and cleaned.  She taught our mom a lot about the cuisine of the region, leeks Povençal being a classic favorite. Mom made it every spring when leeks were abundant in the marchés near the village outside Paris where we lived. Danielle made this for our alluim ,month, May 2016.

3 medium-sized leeks, trimmed and washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tomatoes, or 1 (15-oz) can, cut into eighths
¼ C pitted black Kalamata or green olives
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t Herbes de Provence
¼ C white wine
¼ C olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Trim and clean the leeks: remove one outer layer of the leek and remove the dark green top. Slit the leek vertically and rinse under running water to remove and sand or dirt. Cut the leeks into 2-inch pieces, removing any additional dark or touch pieces. You want to be left with the white and light green parts only. Put the trimmed, washed and cut leeks into an ovenproof baking pan.

In a separate bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, lemon juice and zest, garlic and Herbes de Provence. Spread mixture over the leeks, mixing gently. Add the white wine and olive oil. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper. Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes until leeks are very tender. Serve warm or chilled on a hot summer day. Serves 4-6.

Pan-Fried Halloumi with Fennel, Olive & Mint




Halloumi is the cheese you can cook. It doesn’t melt, it just gets a nice crust on the outside when you pan-fry or grill it. Salty, chewy and intense, the cheese is a favorite in Cyprus, its country of origin, where in the summer it is commonly served grilled with tomatoes or watermelon. Halloumi is becoming increasingly popular around the globe and when you try this recipe you’ll understand its following. High in protein — the cheese is typically made from goat or sheep’s milk — it’s a great substitute for meat in vegetarian diets. This treatment makes it a good choice as a first course. Served as a side with a rice pilaf or lentil stew, you have a lovely filling meal you won’t soon forget.  The remaining half of the fennel bulb can be added to a roast vegetable to accompany this or your next meal. This recipe was adapted by Adrienne, who demoed it at USBG September 16 2015.

3 T olive oil
½ medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1-1/4 cups)
½ medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 pitted Kalamata olives, slivered (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 t finely grated lemon zest
1/3 C minced fresh mint
1 8-oz. package halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4- to 3/8-inch-thick slices

Heat 2 T olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the fennel and onions, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften (but don’t let them brown), 2-3 min. Reduce the heat to medium low, add 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables soften completely, another 2-3 min. Turn the heat to low and stir in the olives, lemon zest, mint. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Wipe out skillet and add remaining olive oil; heat on medium high until hot, about 1 minute. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, cook the halloumi until golden in spots, about 2 min. Flip and cook until the second side of each slice is golden, about 2 min. more. Reduce the heat as needed if the halloumi is browning too fast.

Shingle the halloumi on a serving platter. Stir the vegetables and spoon over the halloumi, drizzle with hot olive oil from skillet. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

lentilAdapted from Rebecca Katz, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

1 C dried lentils
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
¼ C pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
3 T fresh mint, chopped
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 T brown rice vinegar
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
1 t cumin
½ t sea salt
¼ C olive oil

Begin by cooking the lentils: rinse them well, put them in a saucepan and cover in water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat, and simmer until tender, 20-25 minutes. While the lentils are simmering, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Drain the lentils thoroughly and toss with the dressing, then refrigerate for 20 minutes to cool and allow the dressing to soak into the lentils.

Chop the pepper, cucumber, olives, mint and parsley and add to the lentils. Adjust for salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve. Store in an airtight container 3-5 days. Serves 6.

(Note: cooked lentils can be found in the produce section of many grocery stores. If you choose to use them, warm them in the microwave before tossing with the dressing. The warm lentils will absorb the dressing better and soften the lentils. You will need 2 cups cooked.)

Mediterranean Sweet Pepper Salad


Adapted from David Tanis’ cookbook, “A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes”, this dish bursts with color and flavor of summer. A great way to use up a bumper crop of sweet peppers. The peppers store very well in the fridge for up to a week and the flavors improve after a day. Great as a side or as a topping for grilled chicken, pork or fish. Chop the peppers into dice and toss with pasta. Great to use tossed with leftover grilled veggies. Read More

Warm Spaghetti-Squash Salad



Mild spaghetti squash is delicious with potent ingredients like the olives and feta in this lemony salad, which makes a wonderful starter or side dish. Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Four healthy servings

1 T olive oil for cookie sheet
1 medium spaghetti squash
½ C green olives, pitted and chopped
½ C thinly sliced scallion white and light green parts
1 t minced garlic
½ t lemon zest
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 t red pepper flakes
½ t salt
1/4 C olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 C  sliced or slivered almonds, 3 ounces, toasted
4 oz Greek feta, crumbled (½ C)
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 C chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400̊. Drizzle a cookie sheet with 1 T olive oil. Cut spaghetti squash in half around its equator (for smaller strands, cut the squash lengthwise). With an icecream scoop, remove the seeds and loose tendrils and discard.  Place the cleaned halves cut-side down on the cookie sheet. Roast 30 minutes until squash pierces easily with a fork.  This can be done ahead of time.

In a food processor, combine the chopped olives with the sliced scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/4 C olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Remove squash from oven and let cool until you can handle. Working over a medium bowl and using a fork or knife, scrape the spaghetti squash into the bowl, separating the strands. Add the dressing and almonds and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the crumbled feta and parsley if using. Serve warm or room temperature.

Grilled Eggplant Dressed in Olives & Orange

eggplant anchovy

This is another variation on grilled eggplant, from the good folks at Fine Cooking. The densely flavored vinaigrette can be drizzled on lamb, fish or chicken, or on oven-roasted vegetables.

For the vinaigrette:

2 anchovy fillets (preferably salt packed), rinsed
1 small clove garlic
Kosher salt
1/4 C black olives, such as Niçoise or Kalamata, rinsed well, pitted, and chopped finely
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh orange juice
2 T red-wine vinegar; more to taste
½ t finely chopped orange zest
Freshly ground black pepper

chopped mint for garnish

For the eggplant:

1 large globe eggplant (about 1 lb.), trimmed and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
3 T extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
Kosher salt

Make the vinaigrette:

Mash anchovy and garlic, adding a pinch of salt as needed to make a paste. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Whisk in the olives, olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, and orange zest. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more red wine vinegar, if necessary.

Grill the eggplant:

Prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill fire or use a grill pan, set at medium-high. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill until golden-brown grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the eggplant and grill until tender and well marked on the second sides, 3 to 4 minutes more. The interior should be grayish and soft rather than white and hard.  Just before serving, whisk the vinaigrette again and spoon it over the grilled eggplant—you may not need it all—or serve on the side. Garnish with chopped mint.

Greek Platter with Fresh Herbs


Imagine yourself on a Greek island – Naxos, let’s say – in a tiny white-washed house with Cerulean blue shutters that overlooks the Aegean Sea.  Below your terrace, orange, yellow and cyan fishing boats bob in the small harbor and every few hours, a ferry bellows in on a plume of funnel smoke.  The great boat bellies up to port and expels small cars and trucks and people by the score, scurrying like ants toward the village fortifications, before raising anchor and ponderously exiting westward.  It’s late May and the sun on your tiled veranda is warm and brilliant. In the kitchen, beads of condensation sparkle on the carafe of pink wine that awaits you.  It’s time to eat.  This is what you are going to prepare.tomatoes Read More