Olives & Avocados

Salty, creamy, crunchy: the mix of baby greens, sliced avocado, and mixed olives (especially including gorgeous bright green Cerignola olives) tossed in pepper and lemon vinaigrette (whisk juice of half of a lemon & 1 tbsp olive oil until emulsified) made my sunny Seattle Sunday very satisfying.

Advertisements

Turkish Favorites: Yogurt Soup with Mini Dumplings

Turkish Mantı* are one of the most delicious things I can imagine putting in my mouth. Not only does almost everything taste better wrapped in dough, but dumplings, as a part of the cuisine of most cultures, is a great connector of people. Start with the more obvious, (ravioli, shumai, pierogi, samosas), and I’m sure you can name at least an additional five types of mouth-watering dumplings.

This take on Yayla Çorbası (Yogurt Soup), combining my love for dumplings, yogurt, and bright flavors, is excellent both in winter and summer seasons, alike. The recipe below is adapted from my Turkish friend, Fikret. As summer approaches, I hope to offer more inspired Turkish recipes as Turkish food is a natural partner for a delicious summer.

Ingredients

1 cup Mantı or small dumplings (e.g., mini meat tortellini)
4 cups of water
2 cups of plain full-fat yogurt
1 egg
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of dried Turkish mint (often marketed as Moroccan Mint in the U.S.)
1 tbsp dried smoked pepper (e.g., paprika)
salt

Cook Pasta: In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and cook your pasta for the time recommended on the package. Bring to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until desired tenderness. If you like your soup to be thicker, reduce the amount of water.

Blend Yogurt Mixture: In a large bowl on the side, whisk the egg, yogurt, and flour.** Take a bit of water from the pot and temper it into the yogurt mixture, slowly, until you have about a cup of water added.

Infuse Oil with Herbs: In a small pan, bring olive oil to a low heat and add in the dried mint and pepper. Cook for about a minute and remove from heat.

Final step: Once the pasta is cooked, reduce to low and whisk in the tempered yogurt mixture slowly. Continue stirring until mixture is fully incorporated. Then, whisk in the herbed oil, salt to taste and serve.

*Mantı is spelled with a dotless “i” and is pronounced like the “i” in “nation.”
**Adding flour to yogurt sauces helps prevent the yogurt from curdling. A general rule of thumb is 1 tbsp of any type of flour (e.g., wheat, chickpea, etc.) per cup of full-fat yogurt.

Fresh Mozzarella & Shaved Summer Vegetables

Summer is coming – the sunset is already past 8PM here in Seattle. These long sunny days, although still in the 50/60s Farenheit, have me craving summer vegetables.

Below is a quick recipe for a sweet, bright salad that I enjoy with asados or as a light meal of it’s own.

Ingredients:
1 package bocconcini (mini fresh mozzarella balls, usually ~1lb)
2 medium carrots, grated
4 large zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and shaved into semi-circles
1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels removed (optional)
¼ cup minced herbs of your choice (e.g., dill, fennel fronds, parsley)
2 medium lemons, zested and juiced (separated)
3 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until it has emulsified. Toss the vegetables in the bowl directly until the dressing is fully incorporated. Add salt, pepper, and lemon zest to your taste.

Kale Chips: They’re Not As Scary As You May Think

Want to really frighten your loved ones on Friday the 13th? Try the latest trendy vegetable, Kale. Surprise, it’s delicious! Kale is touted as one of the healthiest vegetables around and is a tasty option when craving something crunchy and salty.

How to: Remove kale from stalks, cut into desired chip size, toss in oil (e.g., 3 olive:1 sesame) and salt. Bake on lightly greased or nonstick pan at 350 until desired crispiness (I like ~20-30 minutes), tossing chips at least once in the middle.

Still not convinced? Stick to a childhood trick for eating your vegetables: Add cheese. Try finely grated parmesean or cheddar in the oil/salt/spice mix.

Looking for dairy free option? Check out recipes that use cashews instead of cheese.

Roasted Garlic & Rainbow Chard with Seared ‘Sausage’

Inspired by a request from friends recently turned vegan, I decided to combined some of my favorite “healthy” items including brown rice, garlic, swiss chard, and the amazing Italian sausages from Seattle’s very own Field Roast. (source: Costco, Whole Foods, QFC)

This dish is approved by several local carnivores, mostly due to the nutty texture of the rice, sweetness from the chard and softened roasted garlic, and realization that meat substitutes only disappoint if you expect them to taste 100% like meat.#chardlove #swisschard #rainbowchard #greensStep 1: Pan Roast Garlic & Chard Stalks
Dice the garlic and toss it into a pan with olive oil, leaving it on low while you prep the chard stalks. Separate the ruby red stalks (photo right) from the leafy greens. (Instructions available in this video.) Dice the stalks and toss them into the pan with the garlic. Leave at a low temperature, stirring occasionally for ~15 minutes.

Step 2: Cook Rice
Once the garlic turns a golden color and the chard stalks are softened, add in water & brown rice (2c H20 for 1c Brown Rice), bring to a boil, stir, and reduce to a simmer until rice is cooked (~30 minutes). For higher-protein, substitute brown rice for quinoa (1.5c H20 for 1c quinoa; bring to a boil, stir, and reduce to a simmer for ~15 minutes.)

Step 3: Cook Chard Leaves
Sauté the sliced chard leaves with a olive oil and salt until desired tenderness. Remove leaves from pan, reduce remaining liquid for finishing sauce. Non-vegan but still-healthy option: combine liquid with plain yogurt to make a creamy sauce.

Step 4: Sear “Sausage”
Take your preferred flavor of Field Roast sausages (photo: Italian Sausage), slice into medallions, and sear until a golden brown. I found my cast iron pan delivers the best results with minimal oil.

Step 5: Combine & Serve
The photo (left) has the rice & chard mixed with the seared sausage on top. However, you can combine all or none of the ingredients as you like.

If you find that you really dislike fake meat and have given up on trying veganism, substitute with real sausage or complain to the gorilla in this post.

Eater.Com – National & Local Food Scene Intelligence

Image

How do you find out what new restaurants are opening? Which chefs are being hired? The latest local dining trends? What rivalries are being formed in your local food scene?  Checkout Eater.com.

Positives First: This national site not only has intelligence on what’s going on with restaurants in my town (and many others across the US), it also drills down to the neighborhood level (e.g., Capitol Hill.) Guides, reviews, and industry dirt are available in a plethora of posts. Interested in more than food? Their parents also has sites for those interested in Real Estate and Retail/Fashion.

Areas for Improvement: The site has a lot of content and was a bit challenging to navigate.  For me, in light of the strong trending (demand) for curation within many sites, I’m hoping Eater improves their user dashboard (e.g., a login/profile to track what I like, improved site navigation) so impatient users like me are tricked into spending more time than intended.

Labneh – Extra Thick (Strained) Middle Eastern Style Yogurt

There are a number of reasons to love labneh. It’s creamy, delicious, perfect for both savory or sweet, a vehicle for approximately anything delicious yet still amazing on it’s own. If you like yogurt and soft cheeses (e.g., goat), you’ll love labneh.

Simply strain thick yogurt (marketed as Greek yogurt in the U.S.), in a cheesecloth overnight. In the morning, discard the liquid that’s been strained out and the remaining creamy mixture in the cheesecloth is labneh. If you use regular yogurt, you may have to strain it a bit longer. Diet friendly option: non-fat yogurt works just as well!

When finished either serve it as a spread or roll into balls, coating them in various herbs or marinating them in infused oils (refer to above photo). I’m a huge fan of labneh spread on toast with za’atar (dried thyme & sesame seed mix) and olive oil. For a healthier dessert, try whipping in a dash of ground cardamom and drizzling with honey and pistachios.