Category Archives: Mediterranean Food

Healthy Mediterranean Salad for Spring

 

Traditional seven layer dips are staples of BBQs and other types of get-togethers. But they’re also filled with things that aren’t exactly great for you – like lots and lots of sour cream. The Greek Seven Layer dip is a good alternative for anyone looking for a healthier option.

The Mediterranean diet is well known as one of the healthiest around. This dip celebrates that, offering you wellness in tiers.

Time to prepare: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Greek yogurt (if vegan, use vegan Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed or Greek seasoning (this seasoning is found in specialty stores)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup hummus (of course!)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup seeded, diced cucumbers
  • 1 cup seeded, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Pita chips, chopped vegetables, or flatbread

How to prepare:

  1. In a bowl, combine yogurt, dill weed or seasoning, lemon juice and garlic. Mix until the liquid is light and fluffy. Then spread into the bottom of a shallow baking dish.
  2. Spread a layer of hummus on top of the yogurt. Then create the rest of the layers in the following order: cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, scallions, and feta cheese. Cover the pan with a plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  3. Serve with pita chips, chopped vegetables, or flatbread.

This layer dip is a summery treat. Forget the Snow Cones and, instead, go Greek.

Recipe courtesy of Jennifer Keeler.

 

 

Falafel Sandwich

I love food so naturally I love to dine at fancy restaurants.  There’s something so special about being served on white linen and I savor a fine cup of coffee with dessert.  But there is one exception to my usual preference for fine dining: the falafel sandwiches served at a certain fast food restaurant around the corner.
For those of you not familiar with falafel, it is basically when you take fried balls made from chickpeas or fava beans and put them in a pita pocket  (as you can see in the picture above).
My family is my fan club. My friends and my cousins favor falafel over any food item from India. It is bit time consuming but it’s all worth it.
I am sharing my recipe with you. I don’t know if it can be called authentic or not, but I enjoy it every time I make it.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: Approximately 1 Hour
Serves: 4-5

Falafel Patties or Balls

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Cups Lentils
  • 1 Cup Dried (not canned) Chickpeas
  • 1 Head of Lettuce (washed and chopped – can be mixed with romaine for extra nutrition)
  • 1 Bunch Parsley
  • 1-3 Green Chili Peppers (or Jalapeños)
  • 1 Small Fresh Ginger
  • 4-5 Cloves of Peeled Garlic
  • 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds

Wash lentil and chickpeas very thoroughly and check for stones.

How to Prepare:

  1. Soak lentil and chickpeas for at least three hours in warm water.
  2. Cut and chop parsley, green chili, ginger, and fresh garlic.
  3. Add salt, cumin, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Grind all of ingredients together to make a batter.
  5. Heat the oil on medium in a frying pan.
  6. Make small balls from batter and us a teaspoon to drop them into hot oil.
  7. Once fried, the falafel balls/patties are ready for the sandwich.

Sauce recipes below:

Green Tahini Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro (washed & chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Cup Cucumber (chopped garden or seedless)
  • 1 Small Ginger and Chili (to your taste)
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream or Drained Yogurt or Garlic Cucumber Dressing with Buttermilk (from store)
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 3-5 Cloves Garlic

Blend all ingredients together. Now your green sauce is ready for the Falafel sandwich.

Red Sauce
Ingredients:

4-5 Cloves Fresh Peeled Garlic
1 Red Hot Chili or Red Bell Pepper (for mild taste)
Salt to taste
10 Oz. Tomato Sauce Can
2 TBsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 TBsp Lemon Juice
2 TBsp Ketchup

Blend all ingredients together. Your red spicy or mild sauce is ready for you.

Tips:

  • Pita pockets are very tasty and come in a variety of flavors. I either pop them in the toaster and or warm them at 200º in a toaster oven until till they puff up.
  • Usually I mix two different kind of lettuce: Romaine and head lettuce.
  • Top everything off with 3-4 washed and cubed tomatoes.

I am pretty sure you will enjoy this dish over and over again. I also enjoy Baba Ganoush, Hummus, and Parsley Salad with Tahini and Spicy Garlic Sauce. Because of my culinary curiosity, I always come home to my kitchen and make these things with my selected ingredients.

Smart Food: Mediterranean Pickles

I would like to begin a series on “Smart Food.”  I would love it if you would comment at the bottom, “like” the recipe on Facebook and/or “tweet” it!
Condiments
“Condiments” are called “Kachumber” in my native language. They are a must to any meal and can enhance a dull dish in an instant. The homemade variety will always have your own personal touch. Economically, those made from your own kitchen are cheaper than those bought at the store. And, of course, they are very flavorful. Personally, I am a big fan of condiments that are made at home because they have less sugar, salt and preservatives. Homemade pickles are a great example of this.

Here is a quick recipe for Mediterranean Pickles:



Ingredients:

2   Medium Raw beets, washed and cut lengthwise
2  Medium Turnips, washed and cut lengthwise
2   Cloves Garlic, peeled and cut
2-3 Slices Jalapeño Peppers and/or Red Peppers, whole
Salt to Taste
1/2 Tsp Sugar and 1/2 lemon or White Vinegar
1   Medium Onion, cut lengthwise or a few very small onions
1/2 Tsp Cumin seeds, roasted

Directions:
Mix them together and refrigerate it.

Tip:

  • These will last for two weeks. 
  • Great with sandwiches or regular meal.

Enjoy!

I love to hear from my readers, please comment below!

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Baklava

Baklava

Falafel is a favorite food in my house. Once a week, we go to Pita House in our area and enjoy it very much. Their dessert, as everyone knows, is Baklava.  

Ever since I began blogging my recipes, one entry I wanted to write about was Baklava. It is a flaky Mediterranean, Greek pastry made from phyllo dough which is amazingly good.  It is easy to make, looks good and tastes very good on top of it.  I was able to make a batch this week so I am sharing this recipe with my readers.  It will make you feel like a true chef!
This recipe is courtesy of my good friend Avani Patel.
Ingredients

Cooking Difficulty Level: Medium
Recipe Type: Vegan
Preparation Time: 40 Minutes
Cooking Time: 35 Minutes
Ingredients:  

1    Package/Lb. Phyllo Pastry Sheets
1    Cup Walnuts, coarse & ground
1    Cup Pistachios, coarse & ground
1    Cup Almond, coarse & ground
3-4 TBsp Sugar (or to taste)
1    TBsp Cinnamon
1-2 Sticks Butter (unsalted or as desired)
Honey (can substitute with syrup recipe)
1    Brush to spread butter/syrup

Ingredients for Sugar Syrup (Honey Substitute) Recipe Below:




2    Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
10    Pieces Cloves
1    Tsp Lemon Juice


How to Prepare Baklava:
Frozen phyllo sheets can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight in their package.  Phyllo sheets are very delicate and tend to dry quickly, so do not open the package until all other ingredients are assembled and ready to use.  Keep the phyllo sheets covered at all times so they do not dry out.  When you’re ready, remove them from their package and try your best to fit them into a baking sheet.  Phyllo sheets can be cut easily to fit into a pan. Follow the directions on the box to make it easy, otherwise use a 9″x 14″ pan.  I prefer shallow cookie sheet over a deep cake pan.  
1. Mix all nuts, cinnamon and sugar together for filling and set aside.
2. As shown in the picture, lay phyllo dough on baking sheet and use a brush to cover each layer evenly with melted butter so the pastry does not dry out. 
3. Layer four to five pasty sheets on top of one another.
Cover with Melted Butter
4. Now layer very lightly and evenly the mixture of the nuts, cinnamon and sugar on the top of the four to five pastry sheets. Then again, start layering 4-5 sheets on top of the nut mixture, covering each sheet very well with butter.  Then again, add another layer of nut mixture.
Cover with Nuts.
5. Continue by adding the next layers of phyllo sheets on top of the nut mixture, each sheet brushed with butter. 
Press the Cover Sheets gently.
Cover Pastry Sheets with Butter.
6. Use all of the sheets and layer after layer cover with butter.
7. Once all sheets are used, cut diagonally and then straight lengthwise to make diamond shapes.
8. The next step is to bake it in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 300º until golden brown, crispy and flaky. 
9. Once out of the oven, add honey in the slit areas, covering all over. Cover with honey generously if you like it very sweet or according to your taste. I cover lightly so that it is flaky instead of sticky.
Ready Baklava smothered in honey 

Cut and Ready

Baklava 
Baklava stays good for two weeks without refrigeration.
Tips: 
  • I would highly recommend using a pan large enough to fit the pastry sheets, otherwise they may burn.
  • For vegan recipe, or for those who do not use honey, you can use sugar syrup instead (recipe below).




How to Prepare Sugar Syrup:
  1. Boil water and sugar and cloves for at least 15 minutes until it becomes a thick syrup. 

  2. Remove cloves and add few drops of lemon juice. 

  3. Cool and spread syrup over pastry.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! I love to hear from my readers!

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Beet Salad

Beet Salad

This is one of the most natural recipes for health.  There is no cooking required.  At first I thought, “How it will taste?” I was amazed to find that it was highly refreshing, crunchy, nutty and tasty.  I am sure health fanatics will love it.  I have adopted this recipe from the Isha Yoga Foundation where I attended a five day seminar.

Ingredients:

1    Beet, grated
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Raw Peanuts, soaked for 2 hours
Small Ginger, grated
1/2 Small Fresh or Frozen Coconut, Grated
1    Tsp Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Few Pieces Jalapeño, finely chopped
Fresh Cilantro, chopped

How to Prepare:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together well. 
  2. I would add salt at the time of serving so it does not get watery.

Yummy and healthy!