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.

Eggplant & Tahini Dip (Mutabal)

This roasted eggplant dip is similar to baba ghanoush. In Jordan it is called mutabal, mutabbal or moutabbal. It was silky, creamy, and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Courtney Hill. I modified the method and proportions and omitted the pomegranate seeds. We ate it with warm naan.

According to Milk Street, restaurants in Jordan often top the dip with a simple tomato-cucumber salad. We ate it without the additional topping but may try that next time. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

For the Mutabal:

  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 T tahini
  • 2 T boiling water
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated, or pushed though a garlic press
  • 3/4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • about 2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T pomegranate seeds, optional
  • 1/2 T pomegranate molasses
  • warm flatbread, such as naan, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half and pierce the skin several times with the tip of a knife.
  4. Coat each half all over with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil.
  5. Set the eggplant cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast until collapsed, wrinkled and blistered all over, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes.
  7. With the eggplant still on the baking sheet, trim off and discard the stem.
  8. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skin onto a cutting board; discard the skins.
  9. Finely chop the eggplant but don’t break it down to a puree; it should retain some texture.
  10. In a medium bowl, stir together the tahini and boiling water.
  11. Add the roasted and chopped eggplant, garlic and lemon juice; stir until well combined. Mix in the parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with pomegranate seeds, if using, pomegranate molasses, and garnish with parsley.
  13. Serve with warm flatbread. Top with tomato-cucumber salad, if desired. (recipe below)

For the Optional Tomato-Cucumber Salad:

Yield: about 3/4 cup

  • 1/2 medium ripe tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 Persian cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  1. Combine ingredients while eggplant is roasting.

Weeknight Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Even though I have a tried and true recipe for this family favorite, I couldn’t resist trying another version- especially a Milk Street version. 🙂 It did not disappoint! It was more flavor-packed and spicy than the recipe I’ve used in the past. This shortcut version uses the broiler to cook the chicken and does not require advance preparation or marinating time. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I used the suggested amount of hot paprika but would only use half next time. (It was spicier than I had anticipated!) The delicious yogurt-tahini sauce offset the spiciness nicely. Serving the chicken with rice and warm naan also balanced the meal.

For the Spice Mix:

  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 tsp hot paprika (or 1 tsp hot paprika with 1 tsp sweet paprika)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T tahini
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 5 large)
  • 1 medium-large red onion

For the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  • 1 tsp Spice Mix (reserved from above)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek whole milk yogurt)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T tahini
  • grated lemon zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

  • chopped mint, for garnish
  • warm flatbread such as naan or pita, optional
  • rice or rice pilaf (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice)
  • chopped cucumbers (seeded, if desired)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • lemon wedges, optional

To Make the Spice Mix:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper.
  2. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mix into a medium bowl; set aside. This will be used in the Tahini-Yogurt Sauce.

To Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Trim the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cut each thigh crosswise into thirds (or fourths if large).
  3. Cut the red onion in half. Slice 1/2-inch thick. (I cut the onion into 12 slices.)
  4. Into the remaining spice mix, whisk the olive oil, 1 T tahini, and 2 T lemon juice.
  5. Add the chicken and onion pieces to the spiced olive oil mixture. Mix until coated evenly. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @500 degrees.)
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat with cooking oil spray. While the broiler preheats, make the yogurt sauce.

To Make the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  1. To the reserved teaspoon of spice mix, add the yogurt, 1 T olive oil, 2 T tahini, lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice, and 2 T fresh mint.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir and set aside.

To Cook the Chicken & To Serve:

  1. Transfer the chicken-onion mixture, along with the marinade, to the prepared baking sheet. Distribute in an even layer.
  2. Broil until the chicken is lightly charred on both sides, 18 to 20 minutes, flipping the pieces once about halfway through. (I also rotated the pan halfway through.)
  3. While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice. (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice.) Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven.
  5. Place the rice in an even layer in a shallow serving dish. Top with chicken and onions; drizzle with pan drippings. Sprinkle with chopped mint.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges, warm flatbread, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and yogurt-tahini sauce.

Maqlubeh (Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken & Rice)

I have a Maqlubeh (Maqluba) recipe collection. :/ I have always wanted to make this beautiful, multi-layered, flavor-packed dish but was hesitant because it is a bit of a project. This streamlined version inspired me to finally try it. I even made it on a weeknight! (admittedly a little ambitious…)

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Courtney Hill. I substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in. I also used unsalted butter and chicken stock.

When presenting the finished dish, the platter is gently shaken to create cracks in the rice. The cracks reveal the aromas as well as the chicken and vegetables inside. I absolutely loved it- and drove my family crazy talking about it all evening. 😉 Although it could be served as a complete meal on its own, I served it with roasted asparagus and broccoli as well. It is classically served with a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad. Fantastic.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 cups white Basmati rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 6) or bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3), trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup raw slivered almonds
  • 8 ounces cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 to 10 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 medium eggplant (about 8 to 12 ounces), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside.
  2. Prepare a lidded pot that measures 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Cut 2 rounds of kitchen parchment the size of the pot. (I cut the rounds slightly oversized so that it had a little bit of a lip.)
  3. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  4. Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering.
  5. Add the chicken “skin side” down and cook until browned, about 7 minutes for boneless or 10 minutes for bone-in. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  6. Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.
  7. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
  8. Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.
  9. Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds.
  10. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining rice with the cauliflower, garlic, melted butter, cumin, allspice, turmeric, nutmeg and 1 3/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture, then distribute the remainder in an even layer in the pot.
  11. Place the chicken and accumulated juices (if using boneless, skinless chicken) in the pot, slightly nestling the pieces into the rice-cauliflower layer; discard any accumulated juices (if using bone-in chicken).
  12. Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup rice-cauliflower mixture.
  13. Pour the stock into the pot (it will not fully cover the eggplant), then bring to a boil over medium-high. Set the second parchment round over the food, the cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, reduce to low and cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes.
  14. Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  15. Remove the parchment (and accumulated liquid on the top), then invert a serving platter onto the pot. Holding the platter against the pot, carefully invert the two together; leave the pot overturned on the platter and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slowly lift off the pot and, if needed, remove and discard the parchment.
  16. Gently shake the platter to create cracks in the top of the finished dish.

Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices

I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Soup:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

For the Topping:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
  • tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To Make the Soup:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
  6. Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
  2. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
  3. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

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.

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