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.

Farro & Arugula Salad with Herbs

I made this wonderful salad for my birthday dinner celebration at home. This salad was not only published by Melissa Clark in The New York Times, Ina Garten also shared it in her book, Cook Like a Pro. What endorsements!

The original recipe is from Charlie Bird in NYC. It is a signature dish on the menu. The New York Times article stated,

 “There are two essential steps to a stellar farro salad. The first is cooking the farro with enough salt and aromatics so that it delicious before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. The second is to use very good olive oil in the dressing. This farro salad, from the restaurant Charlie Bird in SoHo, hits both these marks. The chef Ryan Hardy cooks the farro in apple cider seasoned with bay leaves and plenty of salt, which renders it good enough to eat on its own. But it’s even better after he adds loads of olive oil, plus pistachio nuts and Parmesan cheese to make it even richer. Then, before serving, he folds in fresh vegetables to brighten it up: juicy tomatoes, radishes, arugula and plenty of herbs. There are many farro salads of this ilk out there. This is one of the best.”

I had to make it- it sounded incredible! It was loaded with so many of my favorite ingredients.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of arugula in the salad and served it over a bed of arugula. It was for my birthday. 😉 I also incorporated my CSA cilantro and modified the proportions in the dressing. Next time, I would reduce the amount of salt in the farro, noted below.

I served it with rotisserie chicken to make it a complete meal for my crowd. Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 for lunch/side dish or 4 as a main course

  • 1 cup farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
  • 1 to 2 tsp coarse salt, more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup), divided
  • 70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (1/2 cup) (I used salt & pepper pistachios)
  • 2 cups (2 large handfuls) arugula leaves, plus more for serving, as desired
  • 1 cup parsley or basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
  • 1 cup mint or cilantro leaves
  • cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced radishes (I used my CSA French breakfast radishes)
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 1 cup water to a simmer.
  2. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 20 to 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. (If using regular pearled farro, increase the water to 2 cups.)
  3. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.
  4. In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  5. Add farro, 2/3 of the shaved cheese and pistachio nuts. Mix well. (This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving.)
  6. Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish and flaky salt to taste.
  7. Garnish with remaining shaved cheese.
  8. Serve over additional arugula, if desired.

Zucchini with Farro, Chickpeas & Arugula

I have a couple more zucchini recipes to share. I receive a healthy amount of zucchini in my CSA share and I enjoy finding new dishes to make with all of it. I recently roasted a zucchini or two with fresh thyme and CSA onions, then added my special CSA corn (raw), and used it as a calzone filling. Delicious!

I knew that I would really enjoy this wonderful zucchini dish because it incorporates farro and arugula- my favorites. I ate it as a main course but my husband ate it as a side with grilled chicken and roasted potatoes. Everyone was happy. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I roasted the zucchini and increased the amount of arugula. I also decreased the amount of salt and oil and used a combination of basil, predominantly, with parsley, and oregano in the finished dish.

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
  • kosher salt
  • 1 pound small zucchini (about 2 medium/small) and/or summer squash, ends trimmed
  • 4-6 T olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup soft, fragrant herbs, such basil, mint, tarragon, or a combination, roughly torn or cut
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 large handfuls of arugula
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for shaving
  1. Rinse and drain the farro and chickpeas. Add both to a medium pot with 2 large pinches of salt and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, skim foam from the top, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until farro is tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, divide your squash haul in half. With one group, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick planks. Reserve the other 1/2 pound for later.
  3. Place the zucchini planks on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 to 2 T olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a preheated 425 degree oven, roast the zucchini planks until lightly browned and tender, about 10 minutes per side. (I set my oven to convention roast.)
  5. Transfer browned zucchini to a shallow dish and, if desired, cut the planks into 2-inch pieces. (I cut mine.)
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 T olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and half the herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour about half the dressing over the zucchini and let marinate while you finish making the salad. Set remaining dressing aside.
  8. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the rest of the zucchini into ribbons (here’s the easiest way: lay the zucchini on a cutting board, then drag the peeler across it). If your farro is far from done, you can preserve the zucchini strands by soaking them in cold salt water. Drain and pat dry before using.
  9. Drain the farro and chickpeas and transfer to a large mixing bowl. (I returned mine to the pot.)
  10. Toss with the reserved dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add arugula, zucchini ribbons, marinated zucchini, lemon juice and Parmesan shavings. Gently toss to combine and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  12. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and top with the remaining herbs and more arugula and Parmesan, as desired.

Dirt Candy’s Zucchini & Pasta Noodles with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

I celebrated a milestone birthday earlier this summer. Part of my birthday celebration was inspired by this dish. 🙂

The James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Dirt Candy in NYC, Amanda Cohen, was featured on Sara Moulton’s PBS series. She prepared a cocktail along with this zucchini dish from her menu. Dirt Candy is a very unique vegetarian restaurant and I knew the only way I could get my entire family to dine there was for a birthday meal. We went for a birthday brunch celebration and then spent the day enjoying NYC.

Cohen explained that although she is not a vegetarian, she feels that a chef can be much more innovative when creating dishes without being limited by simply pairing sides with a protein. The brunch menu included a mushroom coffee cake on our visit. My son ate the whole thing! Our favorite dish was the Brussels sprout tacos, served with lettuce wraps and a platter of small bowls of topping choices. Delicious. We finished our meal with cucumber sorbet topped with a birthday candle. 🙂

The zucchini pasta recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I modified the proportions and the method. The saffron made the dish exceptional. I also made homemade Greek yogurt labneh to incorporate into the dish. The labneh recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit via epicurious.com, contributed by Tom Scherlitz.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

To Make Greek Yogurt Labneh: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • cheesecloth
  1. Line a large sieve with cheesecloth; set over a medium deep bowl.
  2. Place yogurt in sieve. Gather edges of cheesecloth to cover yogurt. Place in refrigerator and let drain for 2-3 days. (I let it drain for 48 hours.
  3. Gently squeeze out any excess liquid; discard liquid in bowl (yogurt will be very thick and resemble soft goat cheese).

For the Zucchini Pasta Dish:

  • 2 to 3 medium zucchini or 4 cups baby zucchini (I used 2 1/2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • pinch of saffron
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups labneh, recipe above
  • 1 to 2 pounds zucchini spiral noodles
  • 8 to 12 oz angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade basil or mint
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup squash blossoms sliced thinly, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. If using medium zucchini, slice in half and then into 1/4″ half moons. If using the baby zucchini , cut into rounds.
  2. Toss the cut zucchini with 4 T of the olive oil.
  3. Grill over high heat until the zucchini has developed char marks, about 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.
  5. In a pan over medium heat add the remaining 2 T of olive oil, saffron and the garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, turn the heat to low and add the labneh and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water.
  6. Stir slowly, incorporating everything together.
  7. Toss the sauce with the zucchini noodles, the angel hair pasta, the herbs, the lemon juice, and the lemon zest.
  8. Adjust seasonings and then divide between 4 bowls.
  9. Sprinkle each bowl with the squash blossom ribbons, if using, as well as minced herbs, as desired.

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.

Chicken Saltimbocca with Crunchy Pea Salad

I have several weeknight chicken dishes to share. I’m starting with this classic Italian dish.

This is a home-cooked version of an incredible restaurant dish, substituting chicken for veal. Saltimbocca translates to “jumps in your mouth,” the perfect description for this amazingly flavorful prosciutto and sage wrapped meat.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Aaron Crowder, Katie Jackson, and Nick Perkins. I substituted chicken thighs for chicken breasts and used a combination of parsley and cilantro instead of fresh mint. We ate it with sautéed broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes. The chicken was crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 2 (8oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 4 to 8 thin slices prosciutto (enough to wrap the chicken)
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, very thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 8 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley, cilantro, and/or mint leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • flaky sea salt
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. If using chicken thighs, place a thigh on a cutting board between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound as thin as possible without tearing the meat, about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining thighs. (If using chicken breasts, place a chicken breast on a cutting board. Holding a knife parallel to board and working along a long side, cut through center of breast until you are ½” from the other side. Open like a book and place butterflied breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound as thin as possible without tearing meat—about 1/4″ thick and 8″ wide is ideal. Repeat with remaining breast.)
  2. Place eggs, panko, and flour in separate shallow bowls (cake pans or pie plates work great).
  3. Season meat lightly with kosher salt.
  4. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, press 2 sage leaves onto both sides of meat.
  5. Wrap 2 pieces of prosciutto around each cutlet to make a belt that holds in the sage. (I used about 2 1/2 pieces per thigh.)
  6. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess.
  7. Dip in eggs, letting excess drip back into bowl.
  8. Coat in panko, pressing lightly to help it adhere, then shaking off excess.
  9. Place cutlets on a rimmed baking sheet.
  10. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until very hot (an instant-read thermometer should register 350°–375°).
  11. Carefully lower 1 breast along the side of the skillet closest to you and let it slide into oil so it’s lying flat. (I cooked 2 thighs at a time.) Swirl oil in skillet carefully so that cutlet is submerged and cook just until bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  12. Using tongs, carefully turn and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; season with kosher salt. Let sit 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining meat.
  13. Toss scallions, peas, herbs, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt.
  14. Arrange chicken on a platter and top with pea salad. Sprinkle with sea salt; serve with lemons.

Turkish Meatballs with Lime-Yogurt Sauce

I have several recipes to share from Christopher Kimball’s wonderful book, Milk Street.

This recipe used several genius techniques. The first was using a French technique, panade, which incorporates a bread and dairy paste into meat to bind it together and keep it moist during cooking. These meatballs were incredibly tender as a result. The author also uses the microwave to infuse oil with shallots, garlic, and spices- genius!

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and substituted Greek yogurt for whole milk plain yogurt. I really loaded the pita bread halves with meatballs, sauce, and toppings making them essentially knife and fork “sandwiches.” These meatballs would also be wonderful served over rice with a green salad. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with 1 1/2 cups sauce

For the Meatballs:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • one 8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 ounce), finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Lime-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 3 T tahini
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

For Serving:

  • 2 to 3 pita bread rounds, halved
  • tomato slices
  • cucumber slices
  • red onion slices
  • fresh mint or parsley leaves
  • lime-yogurt sauce

To Make the Meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together 2 T of the oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pita bread, yogurt, and water. Use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil mixture, the minute, ground meat, salt and pepper. User your hands to thoroughly mix.
  3. Divide the mixture into 12 portions, then use your hands to roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. In a 12 or 14-inch skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add half of the meatballs, and, using a spatula press them into 1/2-inch thick patties.
  5. Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs are well browned on both sides and register 140 degrees F at the center, about 4  min on the first side and 2 minutes after flipping.
  6. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

To Make the Sauce:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

To Serve:

  1. Fill half of a pita bread pocket with 2-3 meatballs.
  2. Top with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, herbs, and sauce, as desired.

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