Wali Ya Mboga

In Swahili, wali ya mboga translates to “rice and vegetables.” This upscale version incorporated chicken as well. This dish was similar to a biryani with layered rice with greens, caramelized onions, and yogurt-marinaded chicken in tomato curry sauce. To serve, each serving was also topped with pickled onions, called kachumbar, and salted creamy yogurt. Beyond full-flavored.

I must mention that I really browned my tomato paste during the cooking process. Recently, I have read about the importance of letting tomato paste darken for optimal flavor- apparently, I took this advice to heart! The sauce in my finished dish was much deeper in color than in the original recipe.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I modified the proportions and method. I boiled the rice as instructed in the original recipe but struggled with the method- and wasn’t completely thrilled with the resulting texture. Next time, I would cook the rice using a traditional method or use a much larger pot to boil the rice.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Dish:

  • 1 2/3 cups good-quality white basmati rice (such as Shahzada)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) (I used whole milk cream-top plain yogurt)
  • one 1″ piece ginger, scrubbed, finely grated (about 1 T)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press, divided
  • 2 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 medium)
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 4.5 to 4.6 oz tube double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chile powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale, or spinach, tough ribs and stems removed, sliced into 1″ ribbons (I used baby spinach- not cut or stemmed, about 8 cups, packed)

To Serve:

  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 green Thai chile or 1/2 large jalapeño, seeds removed if desired, sliced
  • 2 T diced cherry, grape or Campari tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) (I used whole milk cream-top plain yogurt)

To Make the Dish:

  1. Place rice in a medium bowl and pour in cold water to cover. Agitate rice with your hands until water is cloudy. Drain and repeat until water is almost clear (about 3 times). Pour in water to cover rice by 2″; soak at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
  2. Stir yogurt, ginger, half of garlic, 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp turmeric in a medium bowl to combine. Season with pepper. Add chicken thighs, turning to coat. Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Add onion and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is frizzled and deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer onion to a plate and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in same skillet (still over medium to medium-high).
  6. Working in batches if necessary, remove chicken from marinade and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second side. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving oil behind.
  7. Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, chile powder, remaining half of garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp turmeric to skillet. Cook over medium to medium-high, stirring often, until tomato paste turns a shade darker in color, about 5 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to low, stir in 1 cup water, and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors come together and sauce has thickened, 10–12 minutes.
  9. Return chicken to pan and stir to coat in sauce. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm. (I placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
  10. Drain rice and cook in a very large pot of boiling generously salted water 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. (Alternatively, the rice can be cooked traditionally using a 1:2 ratio with boiling water. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.)
  11. Stir the Swiss chard, kale or spinach into the rice.
  12. Continue to cook until rice is tender and greens are wilted and bright green, about 1 to 3 minutes more.
  13. Drain in a colander and let sit 10 minutes to allow moisture to steam off.

To Assemble and To Serve:

  1. While the rice rests, combine onion, lemon juice, chiles, tomatoes, and 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to combine, breaking up the onion slices. Let kachumbar sit 5 minutes.
  2. Stir yogurt and remaining salt in another small bowl.
  3. To serve, fluff rice with a fork, making sure the greens are evenly distributed; transfer to a platter.
  4. Scatter reserved caramelized onions over and arrange chicken on top. (Or for a more casual look, return rice to pot and gently stir in chicken and onion.)
  5. Serve with kachumbar and salted yogurt alongside.

Ina Garten’s Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

One of my friends frequently serves these tarts when entertaining with rave reviews. She describes them as “flavor bombs!” 🙂 I loved them so much, I have also served them on more than one occasion myself.

The tarts can be formed into rectangles on sheet pans, or into rounds on pizza tins. Square pieces are perfect appetizer portions. As they are a bit time consuming to prepare, the tarts can be assembled a day prior to baking and serving. To limit the amount of moisture on the crust, it is important to not to incorporate too many tomatoes.

The recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, via Food Network.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and made large tarts rather than individual tarts.

Yield: Two 12-inch tarts

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (about 3 large onions)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 6 to 8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (I used Trader Joe’s herb-goat cheese)
  • 1 pound Campari or small “on-the-vine” tomatoes (about 3 per tart), or 2 large tomatoes, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 6 tablespoons julienned basil leaves, divided
  1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 12 by 12-inch square. Fold the corners in to form a circle. Repeat with the second pastry sheet. (Alternatively, the pastry can be kept in a rectangle, lightly rolled until smooth.)
  2. Place the pastry circles on 2 pizza pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. (If using rectangles, place the pastry on 2 rimmed sheet pans lined with parchment paper.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  6. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry.
  7. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  8. Place 1/2 of the onion mixture on each tart, again staying within the scored edge.
  9. On each tart, crumble 3 to 4 ounces of goat cheese on top of the onions.
  10. Place tomato slices over each tart. Brush the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and sprinkle each with 2 T basil, salt, and pepper.
  11. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes on convection, or until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven.
  13. After removing from the oven, garnish each tart with the remaining tablespoon of basil and more grated Parmesan.
  14. Serve hot or warm.

Pasta with Yogurt & Caramelized Onions

This wonderful meatless main dish tasted like a deconstructed version of my mother-in-law’s special homemade Christmas Eve pierogies. Apparently, it is actually an adapted Greek island dish! It was rich and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Food 52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes that will change the way you cook by Kristen Miglore, contributed by Diane Kochilas. (This cookbook was a Christmas gift from my sweet brother. ) I used dried pappardelle noodles instead of fresh tagliatelle.

The author suggests ways to “fancy” up this dish by adding chard or spinach to the pasta just as it finishes boiling. Another suggestion was to blend the sauce with peas, mint, or tahini. All so yummy!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups (1.4 L) coarsely chopped or sliced yellow onions
  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (450 g) tagliatelle or other fresh pasta or dried pappardelle
  • 2 cups (450 g) thick, strained Greek-style yogurt (I used 2 percent)
  • 1 cup (100 g) coarsely grated Pecorino Romano or kefalotyri cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning with sea salt to taste as you go, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 20 to 30+ minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. As the water heats, add enough salt so that you can taste it. Add the pasta and cook until soft, just past al dente.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot.
  4. Combine the yogurt with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the reserved cooking water and whisk to mix well. Add more of the reserved pasta water as needed to get the sauce to your desired thickness.
  5. Toss the pasta with the yogurt mixture.
  6. Serve the pasta immediately, sprinkled generously with cheese and topped with the caramelized onions and their juices.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Caramelized Onion Dip

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My kids have been taking piano lessons for a few years. Starting in October, they study a lot of Christmas music in preparation for a Christmas performance for their grandparents. This year, a couple of my friends enrolled their kids in lessons with the same piano teacher. My kids and their friends performed in a Christmas concert at our house for all of the parents- and each other!- followed by a reception. It was fabulous!!

I first saw this recipe on Feasting with Friends. It was perfect for the occasion. We also served wine, lemonade, double cream brie with sourdough baguette slices, and mini red velvet cupcakes. My friends brought tasty appetizers as well. I loved it- I hope it becomes an annual tradition. We ate the onion dip with kettle chips and crudités. This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown, via foodnetwork.com. It is super easy and delicious- it would be perfect for the Superbowl as well!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow or sweet onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  1. In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions.
  3. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.

Two Years Ago:

Pasta with Greens, Caramelized Onions & Garlicky Bread Crumbs

I thought that the anchovies would be the “I can’t place my finger on the flavor” component in this dish – like in Caesar salad dressing. 🙂 Maybe because I was anticipating their flavor, I was positive that I could distinctly taste them in the final dish but my husband completely disagreed. This dish is so ultra full-flavored with the garlicky bread crumbs and caramelized onions, the anchovies really don’t stand a chance of standing out.
 
I really love that I could use my HUGE assortment of CSA greens in this meal! This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, via The Golden Earthworm Organic Farm. I used ghee instead of butter and panko instead of bread crumbs. I also modified the proportions of garlic, onions, greens, and pasta. I used our favorite Italian fresh pasta– so special and delicious!
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  • 3 tablespoons ghee, butter, or olive oil
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved from stem to root and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, kale, and/or beet or turnip greens, ribs removed, leaves chopped into ribbons
  • 12 oz to 1 pound whole-wheat pasta, such as fusilli, or fresh pasta (I used fresh orecchiette)

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter or ghee. Add 3 anchovies to the skillet; cook until melted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the bread crumbs and toast until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Wipe the skillet clean and return it to a medium-high heat. Add the oil, the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Chop the remaining 2 anchovies and add them to the skillet. Cook until melted. Add the greens (adding the longer cooking greens such as kale first), a handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well. Toss with the greens and bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil, if desired.

One Year Ago:

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