North African Bean Stew with Winter Squash

This is a healthy and hearty vegetarian stew. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. I loved that it was loaded with warm spices.

The recipe was adapted from Brooklyn’s Kos Kaffe via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used farro instead of barley, used canned beans, and increased the amount of garlic. I also reduced the amount water to achieve a thicker consistency. Nice.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Baharat Spice Blend:

  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1/2 T ground coriander
  • 1/2 T ground cumin
  • 1/2 T ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

For the Stew:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts, diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated
  • 1 cup finely diced fennel, fronds reserved (1 medium or 1/2 large fennel bulb)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baharat spice blend
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley or farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  •  large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • 4 cups cooked beans or chickpeas (I used 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (1/2 large or 1 small squash)
  • 3/4 cup peeled and diced turnip (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • plain yogurt, for serving (I used Greek yogurt)
  • aleppo pepper or hot paprika, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Make the baharat spice blend. Set aside.
  2. Cut leeks in half, slice into half moons, and soak in a bowl of water. Drain and finely chop in a food processor.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and cook leeks until they begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. While the leeks cook, finely chop the cilantro stems, fennel and garlic in a food processor.
  5. Stir the cilantro stems into the pot, along with diced fennel and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in baharat, cinnamon and tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in broth, 1 cup water (water can be omitted for a thicker consistency), the barley/farro, and the salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stir in saffron, if using, and reduce heat to medium. (The original recipe uses 3 cups of water- increase for a more soup-like consistency, as desired.)
  8. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. (I simmered the stew for 20 minutes because I used par-cooked farro.)
  9. Stir in beans, squash, turnip and lentils; cook until barley/farro and vegetables are tender, about another 30 minutes.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Remove cinnamon stick.
  11. Ladle stew into bowls. (I served it over rice.)
  12. Spoon a dollop of yogurt on top and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with cilantro leaves, fennel fronds and Aleppo pepper or paprika, as desired.

Shortcut Chicken Fatteh

I have another rotisserie chicken dish to share. Rotisserie chicken meat is used as a shortcut to prepare this delicious Middle Eastern dish. I also used store-bought pita chips in the topping. It was very quick to pull together on a weeknight- fast, crowd-pleasing comfort food. 🙂

The topping was the absolute highlight. Quite often, the bread is layered in the base of this dish. This adaptation reverses the sequence in which the finished dish is plated so that the bread and nuts provide a crispy contrast to the brothy base. Great.

The recipe was adapted from everylittlecrumb.com. I used fresh herbs and pita chips in the topping. I also modified the method and proportions and made the lemon-garlic-yogurt sauce ahead of time to heighten the flavors.

Chickpeas and/or roasted eggplant cubes can be substituted for the shredded chicken to make a vegetarian version.

Yield: Serves 6

For the Chicken & Rice:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded
  • 4 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 cup white rice (I used Aahu Barah Basmati rice)

For the Topping:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 loaves pita bread, cut into cubes (can substitute store-bought pita chips)
  • 2 cups yogurt (I used a combination of whole milk yogurt and fat-free Greek yogurt)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, or more, to taste

To Garnish:

  • paprika
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or almond slivers, toasted
  • 3 to 4 T chopped parsley and/or mint
  • olive oil, for drizzling, optional
  1. Prepare the chicken by shredding the rotisserie chicken meat.
  2. In a sauté pan, warm the shredded chicken meat in 2 cups of the chicken stock; keep on low heat until serving so the chicken warms through.
  3. Cook the rice in the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock.
  4. To Make the Pita Chips: Toast the pita bread in the oven by placing in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, and drizzling well with olive oil and tossing to combine. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown, and set aside. (I substituted store-bought pita chips, broken into cubes.)
  5. Mix together the yogurt with the crushed garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Stir well to combine. (I made this in advance and kept it in the refrigerator.) Adjust the seasoning and amount of lemon juice, to taste, before serving.
  6. Assemble by placing the rice in the base of a deep serving dish. Pour some- or all of- the chicken stock over the top, and scatter the shredded chicken evenly.
  7. Dollop the garlic yogurt on top and smooth out, then top with the crispy pita chips.
  8. Garnish with paprika, chopped parsley and mint, and toasted nuts. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Shakshuka with Feta

As in my last post, this recipe was re-published in a New York Times special section called One Pot/Pan/Skillet: 24 Brilliant Recipes for Everyone Who Hates Doing the Dishes. My dream. 🙂

During this time of self-quarantine, I have made or plan to make several other dishes from this collection including past favorites like One-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo and Mustard Chicken with Shallots and White Wine.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it for dinner with a crusty sourdough baguette and a giant green salad. This quick and tasty dish can be served any meal of the day.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped (I used San Marzano)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 5 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 6 to 8 large eggs (I used 7)
  • chopped cilantro, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving
  • warm pita or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute.
  5. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in crumbled feta.
  7. Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and warm bread.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

I have two hearty soups to share. Perfect to serve for dinner on a chilly night. This red lentil soup is healthy, delicious, and quick to prepare.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and puréed the finished soup to create a uniform texture. I served it with warm naan and green salad.

Yield: 8 servings

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chile powder, more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (I used 1 quart of homemade turkey stock & 1 quart of chicken stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • 6 T chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over high heat until hot and shimmering.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add stock, water, lentils and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  6. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup then add it back to pot.
  7. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
  8. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired. Garnish with additional minced cilantro as well, if desired.

Kofta Sandwiches with Tomatoes & Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

These sandwiches are a great weeknight dinner. Using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, lamb or pork makes them a little bit lighter as well.

After seeing sandwiches served in taco racks at NYC’s Chelsea Market, I used taco racks to assemble these messy sandwiches. Genius! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and added lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1.25 pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 white onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced large (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, more to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T minced fresh dill
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4 small naan or pitas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro, for serving
  • sliced or chopped red onion, for serving, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, diced onion, chopped parsley/cilantro, cumin and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, form mixture into 8 oval patties.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice, if desired.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (I cooked the meatballs until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.)
  5. Divide patties and tomatoes among warm naan or pitas. (I assembled the sandwiches in taco racks.)
  6. Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint or cilantro. Top with red onion, if desired.
  7. Fold to enclose (if not using taco racks) and serve.

Sheet Pan Za’atar Chicken with Garlicky Yogurt

Yes! I have many more weeknight chicken dishes to share. This one uses the genius technique of incorporating pan juices to create an incredible sauce with za’atar, coriander, and citrus.

This wonderful dish was reminiscent of a deconstructed gyro. It would also be incredible served with tomatoes, cucumbers and naan or pita. I served it with green salad, roasted potatoes, and asparagus.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Aaron Crowder, Katie Jackson, and Nick Perkins. I used a sheet pan, substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in, and modified the proportions in the sauce. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 2½ lbs total)
  • 1 or2 medium red onions, cut into 1″-thick wedges
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 cloves
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lemons, quartered, seeds removed
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 T za’atar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest or 1/2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest or 1/2 T lime juice
  1. Preheat oven to 325°, preferably on convection.
  2. Pat chicken meat dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken, onions, halved garlic heads, and lemon on a rimmed sheet pan or in a 13×9″ baking dish; season liberally with salt and pepper (remember to season both sides of chicken).
  3. Pour in oil and toss everything to coat.
  4. Turn garlic cut side down and nestle it in so it is in contact with the baking dish.
  5. Roast, “skin side down,” rotating pan halfway through, for 20 minutes if using boneless meat. Roast until meat is almost falling off the bone (if using bone-in meat), 50–60 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, finely grate 1 garlic clove into a small bowl. Add yogurt, a big pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. water and mix well. Set aside yogurt sauce.
  7. Remove baking dish from oven and transfer onions, garlic, and lemon to a plate. If using boneless, skinless meat, flip the chicken meat to roast on the opposite side.
  8. Increase oven temperature to 425° and continue to roast chicken until skin is golden brown, 10–15 minutes more.
  9. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Set aside pan with juices.
  10. Finely grate remaining garlic clove into another small bowl. Add za’atar, coriander, lemon zest juice, and lime zest juice.
  11. Pour reserved juices in pan into za’atar mixture until you’ve reached an oily consistency (about 3T). Mix in a pinch of salt.
  12. Spread reserved yogurt sauce over a platter and arrange chicken on top.
  13. Scatter onions, garlic, and lemon around the chicken; drizzle with za’atar oil.

Za’atar Chicken Schnitzel with Israeli Salad

I made all of these sautéed chicken dishes months apart, but it seems right to share them at the same time. 🙂

My Austrian sister-in-law has traditional schnitzel with freshly made mayonnaise and cucumber salad for dinner every Christmas Eve. It is absolutely delicious. I loved this Middle Eastern variation.

This recipe was adapted from Bringing it Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox. I substituted chicken thighs for chicken cutlets and cooked the dish in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Perfect.

This schnitzel would also be wonderful served as a sandwich in a pita with hummus.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Israeli Salad:

  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp za’atar
  • 1 tsp sumac, optional
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Schnitzel:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 1/2 T za’atar
  • freshly grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken cutlets, about 1 pound
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • lemon wedges, for serving

To start the salad:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, parsley, and mint.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the schnitzel:

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place an ovenproof platter or a baking sheet int he oven to warm.
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, stir together the flour, 1 tsp salt, and a generous pinch of pepper.
  3. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and a pinch of salt.
  4. In a third shallow bowl, combine the panko, za’atar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Place each piece of chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin, gently pound each piece of chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.
  6. Pat the meat dry and season both sides lightly with salt and pepper.
  7. Dredge in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess.
  8. Dip in the eggs, letting excess drip off, then gently press into the panko mixture to completely coat.
  9. Transfer the chicken to a large plate.
  10. Heat the 1/2 cup of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking. (I used a cast iron skillet over medium heat.)
  11. Fry the chicken in 2 batches, turning once, until cooked through and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  12. Drain each batch on paper towel-lined plates, season with salt, then transfer to the platter in the oven to keep warm.

To finish the salad:

  1. Add the 2 T oil, lemon juice, za’atar, sumac, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper to the vegetable mixture.
  2. Toss to combine.

To serve:

  1. Serve the schnitzel with the salad piled on top (or vice versa!) with lemon wedges on the side.

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