Turkish-Spiced Halibut Skewers With Yogurt Sauce

Many people grill year-round, but our grill hibernates during the winter. 😦 Thankfully, it is unseasonably warm here this week (Yay!), so I am going to share a couple of belated grilling recipes.

This first recipe is an adaptation of a Turkish dish typically made with local swordfish and fresh bay leaves. This version, from David Tanis of The New York Times, uses firm-fleshed halibut with thinly sliced lemons and onions. The fish is only marinated for an hour, grilled, and served with a wonderful and fresh cucumber-yogurt sauce.

We ate the skewers with hummus, warm naan, Israeli couscous, and steamed spinach on the side. If grilling season is over for you, this dish can easily be replicated using a broiler. Great!

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 garlic clove, grated or smashed to a paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small cucumber, about 2 ounces, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. Cut halibut into large chunks of equal size and thread onto skewers. You should have 4 kebabs weighing about 6 ounces each.
  2. Lay them in a shallow dish. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, put cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion, lemon, minced garlic and bay leaves. Add olive oil and stir together.
  4. Spoon mixture over fish skewers and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Put yogurt in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add garlic paste, cayenne and cucumber.
  6. Mix mint, dill and parsley together, add half to yogurt mixture, and reserve the rest. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  7. Heat a grill or broiler. When it is hot, cook skewers for about 2 minutes per side, until just opaque. (Leave some lemon, onion and bay leaf clinging to fish, so they char a bit.)
  8. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining herb mixture, if desired. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side.

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Greek Pie with Mixed Greens

I love all of the greens that I receive in my CSA share. Mixing different greens in the filling of this adaptation of Greek spinach pie, Spanakopita, made it incredibly flavorful.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. I used one-half pound of spinach in addition to approximately one pound of mixed CSA greens including red chard, beet greens, and kohlrabi greens in the filling. I sautéed the greens instead of boiling them as well. I doubled garlic and the onions, and used one yellow onion and one red onion.

Years ago, I made a “low-fat” savory pie with a phyllo pastry crust. The reduced-fat technique was using cooking oil spray between the layers of pastry instead of brushing them with butter or oil. I love it! I used this method when making this pie as well. Great.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, or mixed greens, stemmed and washed thoroughly
  • coarse salt
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of dill and parsley
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed
  • cooking oil spray or 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or 2 tablespoons each melted butter and extra-virgin olive oil, combined, for brushing/spraying the phyllo pastry

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  1. Stem and slice the greens into ribbons, about 2-inches wide for more tender greens, and 1/2-inch wide for heartier greens. Wash them in 2 changes of water, lifting them from the water so that the dirt stays behind.
  2. Thinly slice the chard stems and soak in a bowl of water. Lift from the water like the greens.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375ºF, preferably on convection. Oil or butter a 10-inch tart or cake pan (I used cooking spray and a 9-inch ceramic deep pie dish).
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions and rinsed chard stems. Cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Stir in the damp greens. Sauté until wilted, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Remove from heat.
  8. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Crumble in the feta.
  9. Add egg-cheese mixture to the greens, mix to combine.
  10. Line the pie dish with 7 pieces of phyllo, spraying between each layer with cooking oil spray or lightly brushing each piece with butter or oil and turning the dish after each addition so that the edges of the phyllo drape evenly over the pan.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, fill with the greens mixture. IMG_4913
  12. Fold the draped edges in over the filling, lightly brushing the folded in sheets of phyllo, then layer the remaining 5 pieces on top, brushing each piece with cooking spray, butter or olive oil.
  13. Trim the edges and then stuff into the sides of the pan. Make a few slashes in the top crust so that steam can escape as the pie bakes. 
  14. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is golden. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature. 

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German Potato Salad with Dill

I make potato salad just for my husband who would love to eat potatoes in some form on a daily basis. I often say that I really could give or take a potato… but… I’ll have to admit that this potato salad was quite tasty! The dressing was really delicious. It’s a perfect summer side.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alison Roman. I used baby Yukon gold potatoes and cut them after cooking so that they would take on less water. We ate it with Pasta Salad with Peas and Summer Beans and Grilled Salmon and Bacon Sandwiches for our Memorial Day cookout. Delicious.

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Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds small waxy potatoes, scrubbed clean (I used baby Yukon golds)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 scallions, white and green sections, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted (directions below)
  1. Cover potatoes with cold salted water, bring to a boil, and cook until tender (about 10-12 minutes); drain, cut in half, and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and mix in vinegar.
  4. Add to potatoes along with scallions, and dill, and toss, crushing potatoes slightly; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the caraway seeds to the remaining dressing in the pan. Heat gently until fragrant and add to the potato mixture. Mix gently.
  6. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, as desired.

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Greek-Inspired Zucchini Salad

This is a quick and tasty summer side dish. Just when you thought there was nothing new to make with all of your zucchini! 😉

The raw zucchini paired well with the bright dill and lemon as well as the salty feta. We ate it as a side dish with Panko-Crusted Mustard Salmon. Nice. This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. I increased the amount of fresh lemon juice and dill.

  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons small dill sprigs
  • thin strips lemon zest, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Toss together zucchini, cheese, oil, dill, and lemon juice.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve.

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Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula, & Garlic Yogurt

I love the trend of making a complete meal on a single sheet-pan- absolute genius! This is a wonderful springtime version that has it all… (at least for me!) Chicken thighs, arugula, leeks, harissa, garlic yogurt, and potatoes (for my husband 🙂 ). A complete meal- including salad!

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs, Greek yogurt, and modified the plating as well as the cooking time. Easy & delicious!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (8-10 thighs)
  • 1 ¼ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (or use another thick hot sauce, such as sriracha)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 ounces baby arugula, or more, as desired
  • Chopped fresh dill, as needed
  • Lemon juice, as needed
  1. Combine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together harissa, cumin and 3 tablespoons oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees (I used the convection roast setting). Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Roast 15 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from the oven and toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
  6. While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, scatter dill over the chicken and vegetables in the pan. Place a generous handful of arugula on each plate. Spoon chicken and vegetables over the arugula. Dollop yogurt sauce over the chicken. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice and serve. (I served each plate with lemon to squeeze over the top, as desired.)

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Vegetable Strudel Casserole

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I tend to make dishes with a similar theme or flavor-profile. This dish sounded original and different- outside of the box for me. Then Nancy of Feasting with Friends Blog posted a Veggie Strudel on the same day I was making this one! So, I suppose this dish isn’t that original…. but it was tasty. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. I modified the recipe by baking it as a casserole instead of in individual pieces- seemed much neater that way! I also modified it by increasing the mushrooms, onions, and scallions, using cauliflower instead of broccoli, and by adding green beans. I also sprayed each layer of phyllo dough with canola oil spray instead of brushing with olive oil; I did brush the top layer with olive oil prior to baking. Very nice.

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onions, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 to 3 cups chopped cauliflower or broccoli (about a generous quarter of a large head)
  • 1 cup trimmed and chopped green beans, optional
  • 10 oz button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 to 2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 10 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T minced fresh dill
  • 7 scallions, greens and whites, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup fine bread crumbs, separated
  • canola oil cooking spray
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound phyllo dough leaves, thawed
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (convection). Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking pan. (I use an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Make the Filling: Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the carrot, cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, and 1 tsp salt. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring intermittently, until the vegetables are just tender (about 5 minutes).
  3. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the caraway, garlic, lemon juice, dill, scallions, pepper, cheese, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Remove half of the phyllo dough leaves from the package and sandwich between two pieces of plastic wrap. Cover with a damp towel.
  5. Lay one sheet of phyllo in the oiled baking pan and lightly spray with canola oil or lightly brush with olive oil. Continue layering the sheets of dough, adding oil between each layer, until 1/2 pound of dough (1/2 package) is used.
  6. Sprinkle the stack of phyllo with the remaining 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.
  7. Add the filling, spreading it to within 1/2 inch of the edges.
  8. Layer more phyllo dough over the filling, spraying or brushing each layer with oil. Use the entire box. Brush olive oil over the top layer.

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One Year Ago:

Roasted Vegetable Moussaka

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I was inspired to make a roasted vegetable moussaka after seeing a recipe on El Chino Latino Cocina. It sounded like such a wonderful vegetarian version and had Greek yogurt in the topping to lighten the dish. I had made a similar, but non-vegetarian, light version for mom in the past because she LOVES Greek food. 🙂 When my mom was visiting us recently, I planned to make her a special birthday dinner. I decided that birthdays deserve indulgence- and special, labor-intensive meals…. so I chose to make this “less light” vegetarian moussaka adapted from Tori Avey. 🙂

This dish was hearty and absolutely delicious. I loved the use of lentils instead of meat; I loved my choice of tiny black lentils too because they kept their shape. My mom really enjoyed it! We had carrot cake cupcakes (her favorite) for dessert as well. 🙂 Just when I thought that my mom couldn’t be more pleased, my kids outshined my efforts by buying my mom a birthday gift at our local historic General Store with their saved allowance money. So cute. Happy HAPPY Happy Birthday, Mama!! ❤

I’m bringing this dish to share with my blog friends at Fiesta Friday #42 this week at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and sliced thin
  • 3 lbs. small eggplants
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • cooking oil spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup black lentils (about 1 1/2  to 2 cups cooked lentils)
  • 1 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers or 1 large roasted red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 3 cups diced ripe red tomatoes or 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 10 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose white flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or more to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

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  1. Place lentils in a sauce pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lightly salt, and then lower heat to a simmer; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Place racks on the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees on convection roast. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Spread out the zucchini in a single layer across the baking sheets. Brush the exposed tops of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place one baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven and the other on the lower half. Roast veggies for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and place them back in the oven, switching racks. Roast for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until veggies are tender and starting to turn golden brown (check the bottoms of the veggies for browning).
  4. Repeat this process with two additional parchment-lined baking sheets of sliced potatoes; include the garlic cloves.
  5. While potatoes and zucchini are roasting, remove the stem ends from the eggplants. Peel strips from the eggplants so that they have thin stripes of peel remaining down the sides (they will be half-peeled). Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise.
  6. When potatoes and zucchini are done roasting, remove them from the oven and set aside. Take the 3 roasted garlic cloves and chop them, reserve.
  7. Line two additional baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil. Spread eggplant slices into a single layer. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, switching the baking sheets on upper and lower thirds halfway through cooking, until the slices are tender and lightly golden (check the bottom edges of slices for browning).
  8. While eggplant is roasting, place a sauté pan or sauce pan (I used a 4 quart sauce pan) on the stovetop. Warm up 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Sauté diced onion until softened and translucent. Add roasted bell pepper slices and chopped roasted garlic, saute for another 2 minutes. Add cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, fresh dill, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp salt to the pan; stir well. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook for about 5 more minutes until warmed through. If using fresh tomatoes, let the mixture cook for 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
  9. When eggplant is done roasting, remove it from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (convection). Lightly grease your baking dish with cooking oil spray. Place a single layer of half of the roasted eggplant slices on the bottom of your dish.
  10. On top of that, place a layer of half the potatoes and half the zucchini.
  11. Spread the lentil mixture evenly in a single layer across the surface.
  12. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated pecorino or parmesan and ½ cup crumbled feta across the top of the lentil mixture.
  13. Place the rest of the potatoes and zucchini in another layer on top of the cheese.
  14. Finish with a layer of the remaining roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkle top of the moussaka with 2 tbsp more of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. (I refrigerated the pan at this point.)
  15. (Return the reserved pan to room temperature.) Place moussaka in the oven for 20 minutes to bake at 375 degrees F (convection).
  16. Meanwhile, while the moussaka is baking, make the béchamel sauce for the top of the moussaka. In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into the melted butter till dissolved and thick. Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the flour/butter mixture turns a light sandy brown color.
  17. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium.
  18. Whisk in 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Add ¾ tsp salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste. Whisk the beaten egg slowly into the sauce (drizzle the egg while whisking constantly).
  19. Remove the moussaka from the oven. Pour sauce evenly across the top of the moussaka. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.
  20. Put moussaka back in the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the moussaka is cooked through.
  21. Serve hot. Don’t expect it all to hold together neatly when served; it will slice more cleanly and pieces will hold together better after it has cooled.

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