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Wanting a light and refreshing salad to go along with a Middle Eastern meal featuring baked homemade falafel served up in wraps, the idea for this easy-to-prepare fresh salad is based on tabbouleh. As I had some freshly ground za'atar on hand, I decided to power up that idea to include spices, cherry tomatoes, mixed bell peppers, lightly roasted cashews, and za'atar marinated pieces of sheep's milk feta cheese. The distinguishing feature of tabbouleh is the prominence of fresh parsley and the presence of bulgur wheat in varying proportions, in addition to other chopped vegetables such as tomatoes. The fresh salad is dressed with a simple combination of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and basic seasonings, and also usually features fresh...
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Since mattar paneer is one of my very favorite Punjabi dishes, I have made several different versions over the years. Some included a fair amount of yogurt for a rich and creamy element, while others were more classic in that the cubes of tender milky paneer cheese were simmered in a spiced tomato gravy with a swirl or two of yogurt or cream added into the dish near the end of the cooking time. Sometimes I have included mint, and other times, choose dried fenugreek leaves to compliment and enliven the spices. This version also focuses on a thick rich tomato base which takes precedence as the vehicle for the paneer cheese and peas and, of course, a range of aromatic and hot spices, but because I also wanted to add a creamy element to the...
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This recipe is a small adaptation of one of my favorite peanut butter cookie recipes, one that happens to be flourless and egg-free and contains only four ingredients. I've made the original countless times, and although this adaptation is new, I've made it several times already too. No need for butter or oil when you use a natural peanut butter sans extras. One bowl, a measuring cup and a teaspoon, mix, shape into cookies, bake for just under 10 minutes and enjoy if you can be patient for another 10 minutes to let them cool and firm up a bit. Still flourless and egg-free, I've made these cookies to be ever so slightly firmer than the original recipe but still focusing on preserving the essential peanut butter purity that makes these...
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Sometimes only lentils will do, and they shine in all their seemingly humble glory in soups. Puy lentils (also known as French lentils) are a favorite of mine because of their unique earthy flavor and also because, unlike many other lentils, they hold their shape well, so providing a chewy texture to that which they feature in. Here the lentils feature in a hearty minestrone with earthy Swiss chard and Arborio rice, which I have used instead of the more traditional inclusion of pasta. The rice adds additional chewiness, and proves an ideal vehicle for the fragrant and rich flavors of the other components of the soup. The soup can also be made ahead of time, and as it will thicken over time, especially if made the day before, simply add...
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My obsession with all things tahini in both supporting and starring roles in both sweet and savory creations continues. On the sweet side of the equation, I recently made ginger cookies where tahini takes the place of nut butters that are more commonly used in cookies. Although these are definitely ginger cookies, the ginger taste — provided by using fresh grated ginger instead of powdered — is mellow allowing a perfect balance with the nutty sesame flavor of tahini. Slightly crunchy on the outside, with a soft and moist interior, this recipe only yields a small batch — 10 cookies to be precise. But the recipe could easily be doubled, and you may just want to consider doing just that. They are not overly sweet, and...
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Involtini is an Italian word that refers to little "bundles" that feature some sort of filling wrapped in an outer layer. Sometimes referred to as rollatini in the U.S., it means essentially the same sort of food but it is not a term that would be used in Italy. Often served up as little bites in between meals or as an appetizer, the filling of an involtini may consist of meat, seafood, nuts, cheese or vegetables, while the outer layer is sometimes thin slices of meat, seafood or vegetables. Eggplant involtini is a vegetarian classic featuring eggplant as the outer layer, and the filling is often a cheese-based blend with herbs, simmered with tomato sauce. The possibilities are many indeed and fodder for eager cooks. Though for years I...
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In North America, kasha refers to roasted buckwheat groats or kernels. Roasting the groats brings out a strong nutty flavor that makes kasha a popular grain in eastern European cooking where it is enjoyed not only as a porridge but also in savory dishes like soups where its firm and chewy texture makes for an added appeal. And since buckwheat is not a grain in fact but a seed that cooks like a grain, it's gluten free too. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed the goodness of kasha, but a routine cleanup of my cupboards revealed a sadly forgotten jar of it. I've been looking to mix up my grains lately anyways, and cracked buckwheat is often a favorite breakfast cereal porridge that I serve warm with fresh berries and maple syrup. So...
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The colorful little red bean spelled variously as azuki, aduki or adzuki is also known sometimes as the red mung bean, with which it shares not only a visual appeal but also a delicate sweetness. But while mung beans are widely used in savory preparations, it's much more difficult to find savory dishes featuring azuki beans which are far more often simply boiled with sugar to make a sweet red bean paste. This is a strange scarcity because both beans are an excellent foundation for savory cooking. In fact, these jewel-like beans may be used in any recipe calling for mung beans, but there are differences — the azuki bean has a richer and nuttier flavor than the green mung bean which has a somewhat more earthier taste and texture, so...
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I've been a vegetarian for so long now, over 25 years in fact, that I really don't remember much about eating meat from my younger days except that I found it mostly a distasteful experience. However, I do remember enjoying my mom's signature meatloaf — a superior version of what is for many families like my own a classic comfort food. While carnivores may not find this vegan no-meat loaf made with red kidney beans, wild rice, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, walnuts, herbs and spices an exact substitute, I will simply say that it is not meant to replace a traditional meatloaf but deserves to be appreciated in its own right. Like a meatloaf, though, this bean and rice loaf is a substantial meal that really doesn't take all that long...
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Tahini is a condiment or paste made from sesame seeds and has a consistency much like nut butters. It figures prominently in Middle Eastern cuisine, and one of the most well known uses of tahini is the central role it plays in most hummus preparations. You can make your own from unhulled, hulled, sprouted or toasted sesame seeds, but I have yet to do that. I already make so many of my own staples and there is only so much time in a day. I have a few favorite store-bought brands that work well for me, and my preference is always to get pure tahini, without any additions and that most resemble the consistency of nut butters, meaning I avoid varieties that have a watery consistency. And tahini is such a diverse ingredient and one that I have...
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