Raw Zucchini & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Yogurt

I loved everything about this beautiful salad. We ate it with Turkish Grilled Chicken– such a wonderful meal. It was one of the best zucchini dishes I’ve ever made.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Elizabeth Mindreau. It was re-created from a salad served at Coal Office, a modern Middle Eastern restaurant in London.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • about 3/4 to 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 T tahini
  • zest from 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp plus 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 15 1/2 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 2 small/medium zucchini (12 to 16 ounces total), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced on a steep diagonal
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • ground sumac, to serve, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest and juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chickpeas, shallot, vinegar and za’atar. Cover and microwave until the shallot is wilted, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (see Tip)
  3. When the chickpeas have cooled, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the zucchini, mint, dill and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the chickpea-zucchini mixture to a platter, spooning it around the edge.
  5. Scoop the yogurt mixture into a mound in the center of the chickpea-zucchini mixture.
  6. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with sumac, if using.

Tip: Don’t forget to cover the bowl containing the chickpeas and shallots when microwaving. Covering traps steam that helps wilt the shallots and soften the chickpeas. And remember to occasionally stir the chickpea-shallot mixture as it cools. This helps ensure the chickpeas evenly absorb the seasonings pooled at the bottom of the bowl while also hastening the cooling.

Cucumber Caesar Salad with Dill & Crispy-Spicy Panko

This is another flavor-packed adaptation of a classic. It was a wonderful way to enjoy the bounty of delicious summer cucumbers. Although this version is lighter than a classic Caesar, I was initially concerned that the dressing may be too potent. No worries! It was perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I modified the method and proportions, used cucumbers from my CSA share, and used harissa instead of Calabrian chile paste. I loved the generous volume of fresh dill.

We enjoyed it with grilled chicken thighs and and roasted potatoes. Great.

For the Crispy-Spicy Panko Topping:

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Harissa or Calabrian chile paste (or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal)

For the Salad & Assembly:

  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 T anchovy paste or 5 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets, smashed
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more (or 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal)
  • 5 peeled, halved, and seeded cucumbers or 3 European hothouse cucumbers, cut on a diagonal into 1″ pieces
  • 2 oz Parmesan, shaved (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 cup dill, chopped

To Make the Crispy-Spicy Panko Topping:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Add the chile paste and stir into the warm oil.
  3. Add panko and salt (and crushed red pepper flakes, if using instead of chile paste) and cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer spicy breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl; set aside.

Do ahead: Breadcrumbs can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

To Make the Salad & To Assemble:

  1. Whisk garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies, mustard, and salt in a large bowl to combine.
  2. If using regular cucumbers: peel, slice in half, and seed them. (I used a melon baller to seed them.)
  3. Add the cucumber slices; toss well to coat.
  4. Add shaved Parmesan and top with dill. Gently toss to distribute evenly.
  5. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
  6. Just before serving, transfer cucumber salad to a platter and spoon reserved spicy breadcrumbs on top. (I reserved some of the breadcrumbs to pass at the table.)

Do ahead: Dressing can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Salad (without breadcrumbs) can be made 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

Greek Tzatziki

Everyone in my family loves tzatziki. This version incorporates red wine vinegar rather than lemon juice, which is apparently the way it is typically prepared in Greece. I normally use chopped cucumbers but really enjoyed the texture of the grated cucumbers in this dish.

We ate it with warm naan and grillled chicken kebabs. A perfect summer dinner! This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Courtney Hill. I modified the proportions. I also prepared the tzatziki in advance and kept it chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Wonderful.

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 1 European seedless cucumber, halved crosswise
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat Greek yogurt (I used 2 percent Greek yogurt)(see Tip)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 medium to large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 T chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  1. Set a colander in a medium bowl, then set a box grater in the colander.
  2. Grate the cucumber halves on the grater’s large holes, rotating and grating only down to the seedy core. Discard the cores. (Make sure that you don’t shred the cores as the seeds are watery and have a slight bitterness and unappealing texture.)
  3. Sprinkle the shredded cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt and toss. Set aside to drain for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, garlic, mint, dill and vinegar.
  5. A handful at a time, squeeze the shredded cucumber to remove as much liquid as possible, then set on a cutting board; reserve 1 teaspoons of the cucumber liquid.
  6. Finely chop the squeezed cucumber, then stir into the yogurt mixture.
  7. Stir in the reserved cucumber liquid and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt.
  8. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional mint and dill, as desired.

Tip: Don’t use nonfat Greek yogurt. Without any fat, the flavor of the tzatziki is weak and thin.

Creamy Ricotta & Herb Pasta

This quick summer dish gobbled up the cilantro from my CSA share. The sauce was silky and fresh.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I reduced the oil and modified the method. Next time I may add some lemon zest and/or toasted pine nuts. Easy and delicious!

  • salt
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali or wagon wheels (I used cascatelli)
  • about 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 2 1/2 cups soft herbs, packed, such as cilantro, basil, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try for a combination of at least 3 kinds), coarsely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • lemon zest, optional
  • handful of toasted pine nuts, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  2. In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and a large pinch or two of coarse salt, and stir until well combined.
  3. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth.
  4. Coarsely chop the herbs with a food processor, if desired. (I used 1 cup dill, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup basil.)
  5. Add the cooked pasta and herbs, and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, soupy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  6. Incorporate lemon zest and/or pine nuts, if using.
  7. To serve, spoon the pasta into a serving bowl or individual bowls and finish with more Parmesan, drizzle of olive oil and more pepper, as desired.

Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
  2. Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Irish Ale Bread with Caraway & Herbs

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Other than wearing green, we typically celebrate the holiday by having a festive meal. 🙂

This year, instead of making a new soda bread, I made this Irish version of beer bread. I loved the caraway seeds (which I also love in soda bread) and the flecks of green from the fresh herbs in the dough.

We ate it for dinner with shepherd’s chicken pot pie, roasted asparagus, and green salad. It would also be a perfect accompaniment to a traditional celebratory corned beef and cabbage meal.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the baking time to bake the loaf in a pullman loaf pan in a convection oven. The bread was delicious with and without salted butter.

Yield: one Pullman loaf or one 9-inch loaf

  • 260 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 T honey
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, melted, divided
  • 12 ounce bottle or can Irish lager, such as Harp
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Mist a Pullman loaf pan or a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, caraway, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the dill and chives, then toss well.
  5. Drizzle in the honey and 4 tablespoons of melted butter, then add the beer and whisk gently just until evenly moistened; do not over mix. The batter will be thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Brush the top with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter.
  7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 25 minutes in a Pullman pan on convection, or up to 40 to 45 minutes in a 9-inch pan in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Turn the loaf right side up and cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

Tip: Don’t slice the bread while it’s warm. Like all quick breads, this loaf slices more easily and cleanly at room temperature. Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

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