Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Month: August 2019

Spiced Watermelon and Feta Salad

Spiced Watermelon and Feta Salad

spiced watermelon and feta salad

Kufta

Kufta

My earliest memory of eating kufta is at my grandparent’s house. The house would fill with this familiar delicious smell, and I knew that a juicy spiced meat patty with slow roasted tomatoes in a pita sandwich was in my near future. Growing up, I […]

Shrimp Orzo Salad

Shrimp Orzo Salad

YUMMY ! Just thinking about writing this post makes my mouth water. Shrimp Orzo Salad is such a great dish to wind down the summer with. It’s lemony-dill dressing provides a refreshing flavor akin to other summer dishes, but the warmth of the orzo and creamy tang of the goat cheese provides a heartiness that lets us know that fall is just around the corner.

I started making this particular dish just after I graduated from law school. It was, in a way, part of my entry into “adult” life. While it is Mediterranean inspired, it was the first real dish that I made completely on my own that was unlike anything I had eaten before or would have been taught to make by my mother and grandmothers. I first brought to a friends dinner party and then to my parent’s house for the ultimate taste test. Needless to say, it passed the test and has since become one of my signature dishes. I hope you give it a try, truly is a unique and delicious dish that will make your mouth water just thinking about it.

Shrimp Orzo Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course lunch, Salad, Side Dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb shrimp (21-25 count/lb); shelled with tails on or off

  • 2 cups orzo dried
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 2 oz goat cheese (or feta if you prefer)

Instructions
 

  • preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • boil orzo and cook according to instructions on packaging (stir occasionally); drain water when done
  • while orzo is cooking, make dressing:
    add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a bowl and whisk.
    Continue whisking while slowly adding olive oil until fully emulsified; gently stir in chopped dill
  • Add warm, drained orzo to dressing and gently mix
  • Cook Shrimp:
    Blot shrimp with paper towel to remove moisture and then add to baking sheet . lightly drizzle additional olive oil, salt and pepper onto shrimp and gently toss to coat.
    place shrimp in 375 degree oven for 3 minutes and then flip each shrimp. cook for 3 minutes on other side. Take out of oven and let cool
  • Once shrimp is cool add to the orzo and dressing and toss gently.
  • Continue to cool until mixture reaches about room temperature.
  • Once mixture reaches room temperature add 2 oz of crumbled goat cheese and toss gently.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

I worked on this vegan recipe as a tribute to the many vegan and vegetarians at my office. Vegan baking has been something new to me, but I have learned from my mom that cooking and baking is about experimentation and knowledge of ingredients. Our […]

Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves

Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves

Vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, dolma, warak enab or yalanji -whatever you want to call it – are one of the best things to grace any gathering. When the dish is noticed, conversations are paused, eyebrows raise, crowds gather, and suddenly the 80 pieces you made […]

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

While we grew up eating our fair share of Middle Eastern cuisine, my Mom, being the excellent cook she is, would constantly throw new dishes into the mix inspired by restaurant visits or our travels abroad.  She was and still is a true renaissance woman in the kitchen.  Her inspired cooking philosophy has rubbed off on us and lead me to make this Mediterranean Chopped Salad after a recent dinner at Coco Pazzo Café in Chicago.   Sitting outside and enjoying the Chicago summer, we had the most delicious Italian chopped salad that was fresh, light and a perfect introduction to a most excellent meal.    I put my own Middle-Eastern spin on it, using mainly chickpeas instead of cannellini beans and adding some mint for additional freshness.  The result is a celebration of veggies that will leave you feeling healthy, energized and satisfied.  It’s a wonderful dish to enjoy al fresco as we savor these last days of summer.  

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

Prep Time 45 mins
Course Salad
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 cups chopped green bell pepper
  • 1.5 cups chopped baby carrots
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 cups canned chickpeas drained and rinsed. you can substitute cannellini beans for some or all of the chickpeas if its your preference
  • 1.5 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped radicchio separate leaves before chopping
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Instructions
 

  • wash and chop all the vegetables to get amounts per ingredients. vegetables should all be chopped to around the same size
  • drain and rinse canned beans
  • to a large bowl, mix together the chopped celery, carrots, green pepper, red onion and beans.
  • add basil, mint, oregano, EVOO, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar to bowl and mix
  • add radicchio and mix lightly (so as not to wilt delicate leaves)
  • can be served immediately, but if there is time, allow dish to sit for 20 minutes before serving so veggies can absorb dressing. dish can also be refrigerated up to overnight before serving.
Delightful Pocketless Pita

Delightful Pocketless Pita

Bread, aka khubez in Arabic, is common to many Middle Eastern meals. It is eaten with hummus, dips, cheese, meats…the list goes on! There are so many varieties of bread too. This recipe creates the softest and fluffiest pocketless pita. It is perfect to dip […]

Tata’s Signature Salad

Tata’s Signature Salad

Tata’s Signature Salad is a wonderful go-to salad any time of the year. Our Tata (grandma) made this simple salad so refreshing by adding a touch of mint. Of course, her sweet tooth would always kick in, so she added a little bit of sugar […]

Majedah’s Hummus

Majedah’s Hummus

This is an ode to hummus. Hummus has earned the title of a universal dish. From an upscale to a fast food restaurant, there is a good chance that you may find hummus on the menu, and if not, probably the place next door has it. There is also a good chance that the person you are with says, “Man, I love hummus.”

The other day, at my husband’s graduation party (yes, graduation party #43….what can I say? After residency there are some grey hairs now), my mother-in-law Majedah made a large batch of hummus for the party. All the guests asked where it was from. I proudly said “Majedah made it!” to which she modestly responded, “It’s no big deal, I made just before I came.” It is truly delicious – so smooth, creamy, and tangy. And the best part, it takes no more than 20 minutes to make. One of my favorite stories about this hummus is that one of our friends (hey Matt!) said he almost called us at 10pm a few days later to see if we had any leftover hummus – the store stuff just wouldn’t do! I wish he would have called, eating hummus is acceptable at any hour.

So here’s to you, hummus, for making the tahini I grew up with #mainstream. If you have 20 minutes, make this hummus, you will not regret it!

Also, be sure to check out one of earlier post, Nana B’s Famous Hummus ,for more hummus inspiration.

Majedah’s Hummus

A smooth, creamy, tangy hummus that takes only 20 minutes to make from start to finish!



Total Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, dinner, lunch
Cuisine Arabic, Mediterranean
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 can chickpeas (15.5 ounce can) *
  • 2 tbsp chickpea liquid (reserved from can)**
  • 4 tbsp tahini***
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt, more or less to taste

Instructions
 

  • Drain chickpea liquid from chickpeas. Reserve the liquid for future use.
  • Place chickpeas, tahini, chickpea liquid, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt in a blender.
  • Blend until smooth, ~5 minutes.
  • Place in fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
  • Serve with any type of bread, pita chips, crackers or vegetable crudités.

Notes

*This recipe serving size is based on appetizer serving portions. We often double or triple this recipe depending on the amount desired. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for a few months. 
**You can adjust this volume, less if you prefer a thicker hummus, more if you prefer a thinner hummus. 
***Tahini can be purchased so many places these days – Middle Eastern grocery stores, large supermarkets, Whole Foods, Trader Joes!
Keyword chickpeas, hummus, lemons, tahini