My friend Pat was good enough to share the last of her wax bean crop this year. Lucky us! So, tonight I am preparing these beautiful beans with the basil from my herb pot and some garlic (Last week’s bounty from Pat’s garden).
- ½ C packed basil leaves (reserve a few for garnish)
- ¼ C pine nuts
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
- ¼ C olive oil
- ¼ C finely grated parmesan cheese
- black pepper & salt to taste
- 3 C wax beans, washed & trimmed
- Combine basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse a few times then pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the grated parmesan and pulse a few more times until a paste forms. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. You can use a blender to make the pesto as well but you will have to scrape the sides down more often.
- I usually leave the yellow beans whole, just trimming the stem end of each bean. Steam the prepped beans for about 5 minutes being careful not to overdue the cooking process. Toss the steamed beans with the pesto and serve immediately garnished with a few basil leaves.
Serves 6 as a sidedish
As you know, I’ve recently been thumbing my way through, Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. Today I am sharing a slightly tweaked version of a traditional Arabic casserole. Maqluba means “Upside-down” and that’s exactly how this savoury chicken and veggie casserole is presented. Once cooked, the pot, layered with tasty food is flipped over and if luck is with you, the casserole drops out in one piece onto the awaiting platter. Last night luck was with us and, posted here you see the results.
Traditionally the veggies are fried before being layered into the casserole dish but I roasted mine instead. This way, less oil was used and the vegetable flavours were deepened and intensified during the roasting process.
Now, the list of ingredients might seem long and daunting but really, most of what you see below is various spices. They add distinctive flavours to this upside-down casserole making it hard to resist.
- 1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/2 ” slices
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 large onion, cut into quarters lengthwise
- ½ medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
- ¼ C olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp kosher salt & grinding of pepper
- 1 C basmati rice
- 8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
- ¼ C cooking oil
- 1 ½ C chicken broth (or water)
- 1 small onion, cut into quarter sections
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Lay the eggplant pieces out flat on a piece of paper towel. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt. Leave for 15 – 20 minutes. Beads of moisture will appear on the eggplant surface during this time. Pat the slices dry.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
- Coat the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, onion quarters, and cauliflower with the olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the veggies out on one or two baking pans lined with parchment paper and place on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Roast the vegetables for about 40 minutes removing individual veggie slices/pieces as they are done.
- Cover the rice with water and leave it to soak for at least ½ hr.
- While the rice is soaking and vegetables are roasting, heat the 2 T of cooking oil in a large heavy pan with a tight fitting lid. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides. Add the broth or water to the pan, along with the onion halves, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil then lower the heat so the broth is just simmering. Cover with lid and braise for 20 minutes. Remove chicken using a slotted spoon and strain the chicken broth. Set both chicken pieces and broth aside for later use.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the casserole pot you will use to assemble the Maqluba. Select a pot that has a tight fitting lid and doesn’t slope inward from bottom to top. The sides should be straight up and down with the top opening of the pot being the same size as the bottom of the pot (see what I used pictured below). Spray the sides of the pot with cooking oil.
- Now it’s time to layer the casserole. First place the roasted cherry tomatoes on the bottom followed by the roasted slices of eggplant. The chicken thighs come next followed by the roast onion sections and cauliflower florets. Strain the soaked rice and distribute it evenly across the top layer of the casserole. Press everything down firmly.
- Add the remaining spices (turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper) to the reserved chicken broth and stir. Slowly pour enough of the chicken broth mixture over the last casserole layer to completely cover the rice. Cover the pot with its lid.
- Place the covered pot on the middle rack of the 350 F oven. Bake for one hour. Leave it for a bit longer if there is liquid that still needs to absorb and reduce. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before flipping onto platter. Good luck but don’t worry; the Maqluba tastes great even if it’s not in one piece when served.
Garnish with lightly browned pine nuts if desired.
We have had hot muggy days over the past week; the type of weather that isn’t conducive to indoor cooking. Who wants to slave over a stove in the summertime anyway? Not me. Tabouleh is a perfect option when the temperature soars and there’s no need to even crank up a burner. Just use the kettle to boil water for the bulgur. That’s it! Even though tabouleh is a filling salad, the fresh mint along with the lemon juice in the dressing keeps it tasting light and refreshing.
- 3/4 C bulgur (cracked wheat)
- 1 C boiling water
- 1 C tomato, small dice
- 1 small red onion, fine dice
- 1/2 C red bell pepper, fine dice
- 3/4 C peeled & seeded cucumber, fine dice
- 1/2 C minced fresh parsley
- 2 T minced fresh mint
- 1 tsp kosher salt flakes
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 C lemon juice
- 1/2 C olive oil
- Pour hot water over the bulgur and set aside for about 30 minutes. During this time the bulgur will absorb the water and soften up. Chill the prepared bulgur in the fridge for at least an hour before mixing with the remaining ingredients. I often prepare the bulgur the night before I make tabouleh.
- Combine the tomato, red onion, bell pepper,cucumber,parsley, mint and kosher salt.
- In a separate container mix together lemon juice, olive oil and chili powder.
- Add the chilled bulgur to the vegetable mixture and combine with the prepared dressing. Chill before serving. Garnish the salad with sprigs of fresh mint.
Recently my friend Pat lent me her copy of Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s full of stories and great recipes. I’ve adapted this recipe for the traditional lentil and rice pilaf, popular throughout the Mediterranean, by tweaking the spicing to suit my own palate. I also used canned lentils that were already prepared. The crispy onions add texture and sweet flavour making this hearty dish something special!
- 4 cooking onions, sliced very thin
- 3 T white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ C oil
- 1 can of cooked lentils
- 1 C cooked brown rice
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 T mustard seeds
- 1 T coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- First prepare the crispy fried onions. Mix together salt and flour then sprinkle over the sliced onions and toss. Heat oil and fry the onions until they are crispy and golden brown. It takes about 7 -8 minutes. Give them a stir now and then. The flour tends to stick to the bottom of the pot. Just keep scraping it up. These little bits will brown and add crunch to the finished dish. Drain the crispy onions on paper towel and set aside.
- Rinse and drain the lentils – set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the mustard and coriander seeds. Stir over medium heat until the seeds begin to pop then add the remaining spices. Continue stirring for a minute or two then add the drained lentils, cooked rice and half of the crispy onions.
- Combine it all together. (I didn’t have any coriander so I used Cilantro Paste instead and added it to the mixture at this point).
- Salt & pepper to taste. Serve heaped into bowls and garnished with the remaining crispy onions. Glenn likes some heat so he adds some Sriracha hot sauce to his bowl at this point!
We use the left-overs for lunch the next day. I create wraps using large sized tortillas filled with the mejadra, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato and then dressed with the following sauce:
2 T mayonnaise, 2 T sour cream (or plain yogurt), 1 T cilantro paste, 2 T Sweet Thai chili Sauce
Here’s an easy recipe for using up bananas that have become too ripe. I usually have several over-ripe bananas in the freezer ready for banana mug muffins or a breakfast smoothie. Ready in five minutes, this easy version of banana bread serves one. You simply mix the ingredients up in a microwavable mug and pop it into the microwave. As you know, Glenn and I are lowering our carb intake these days. Now I know banana is usually on the hit list for low carb dieters but we still eat a small amount of banana now and then. If you are watching your carb intake, this mug muffin will add 9.9 G of carbohydrates in total to your daily count.
- ½ ripe banana, mashed
- 1 T melted butter
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 T stevia sweetener or sucralose (I use Sugar Twin Stevia Sweetener)
- 1 T PB2 powder or 1 T peanut butter (see note about PB2 below)
- 1 T coconut flour
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- Pinch of Salt
- Place banana in a microwavable mug and mash into a smooth paste.
- Add the egg, melted butter & vanilla and mix all the wet ingredients together with a fork until well blended.
- Now add the rest of the ingredients (PB2 powder, coconut flour, baking soda and salt) and using the fork mix everything together right in the mug.
- Microwave on high for 1 1/2 – 2 ½ minutes. My microwave is 1000 watts so I use the shorter time.
Yield: 1 serving
For those who prefer to use an oven: Pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake the muffin for 15 minutes.
Note: You may be wondering what PB2 powder is. Well, it’s a mighty fine addition to the pantry for anyone who likes peanut butter but is watching their calorie intake. PB2 powder is made from slow roasted peanuts that have been pressed to remove 85% of the fat and oil. The resulting powder is full of peanut flavour and is great for use in recipes like this Banana Nut Mug Muffin.I purchase PB2 online from: The Low Carb Grocery
Hummus is another item we make often. Versions of hummus first appeared in Cairo during the thirteenth century. It’s a dish that has definitely stood the test of time and now shows up on menus all around the world. A simple dish, hummus is a spread made from five basic ingredients: chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic and lemon.
- 1 15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
- 4 – 6 cloves of garlic, crushed through a garlic press
- ¼ C olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 T tahini
- ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
Place all of the above ingredients into a blender (or food processor) and blend until the chickpeas have turned into a paste and are well blended with the other ingredients. If you use a blender you will have to stop the blender to scrape down the sides a few times until the chickpeas are broken down into a paste. Place hummus in a bowl or on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with black olives. Serve with pita bread or as a dip beside fresh veggies.
Roasted garlic often accompanies meals on our table. We love it plain and unadorned and like to include freshly roasted cloves on a board of assorted appetizers when entertaining. In fact there’s a long list of recipes we make that incorporate these mellow cloves including: Garlic Aioli, Hummus (Houmous) and our homemade Low Carb Pizza. You could almost say roasted garlic is a kitchen staple at our house!
- 1 whole garlic bulb
- 1 T olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 400 F
- Brush off any loose bits of the paper-like outer coating of the whole garlic bulb. Cut the top off the whole bulb.
- Place the bulb on a piece of aluminum foil, 6” x 6” square, and drizzle 1 T olive oil over the bulb.
- Wrap the foil around the garlic bulb, place the packet on a cookie sheet and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and open up the foil packet to let the garlic bulb cool. When you can handle it easily, separate into individual cloves and remove the papery skin from each clove