Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

Purslane

I recently found a new item in my CSA box that I thought looked more like a weed. It turns out that purslane is a succulent that grows wild and while its generally viewed as a weed here in the U.S., it’s actually quite tasty and nutritious. It’s got more Omega-3’s than any other plant, as well as loads of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It’s used in Europe, the Middle East, and Mexico and honestly tastes pretty delicious on its own: salty and lemony. But, mysteriously I wanted to turn my stove on and try something different. I combined some recipes I found from Afghanistan and Mexico and came up with a really simple and delicious recipe.

Sauteed Purslane and Eggs

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 bunch purslane, large stems removed
  • 4 eggs, cracked and scrambled
  • salt to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato and purslane and simmer until the purslane is tender, the tomatoes are broken down, and the liquid begins to thicken. Stir in eggs and cook until firm. Serve with flat bread or soft tortillas. Serves 2 to 4.

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Mediterranean Lentils

Today, I was reading a column in the NY Times about the challenges of going vegan. While, I’m not vegan, as a vegetarian, I have to disagree with a lot of the so-called challenges mentioned in the article. There is absolutely no need to shop at vegan-only stores or buy expensive fake meat. All my food options are available at farmer’s markets and regular grocery stores, and I spend a whopping $100 a month for this. My food philosophy is the simpler, the better, and as a result, I shop mostly on the “edges” of my grocery store. The vegan parts of my diet focuses on fruits and veggies (fresh, frozen, canned and dried), nuts, rice, and beans. In case you haven’t walked down the bean aisle lately, dried beans are incredibly cheap (usually less than $2 per pound), make a ton (I can get 16 servings out of a bag) and are naturally high in fiber and protein. A serious downside of cooking with dried beans, is, well, cooking them. Most of them take an hour or more to cook, and not everybody has the time to deal with that.

That’s where my love for lentils really began, since a pot of lentils cooks up in only 20 minutes or so. Also, by serving, they are higher in protein than most other beans. With their smaller size, they don’t suffer from that bean-y texture that a lot of people dislike. Finally, they do great with flavors from a large variety of cultures. This version I think of as my Mediterranean recipe. I serve it along side Greek salads, throw it into marinara to add a protein punch to my spaghetti sauce, and it’s perfectly welcoming to all kinds of root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, celery, fennel, beets, parsnips and turnips. If you want to make it into soup, add 2 more cups of vegetable broth.

Mediterranean Lentils

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 in ginger, minced
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add lentils and cook for an additional minute or two, until they are shiny. Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, then cook covered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. If the cooking liquid gets too low, add more vegetable broth or water. Serves 4.

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Leek and Almond Kookoo

No, that’s not a weird misspelling in my title, my suppers for this week are a leek and almond kookoo. A kookoo is the Middle Eastern or Northern African version of the French frittata or the Spanish tortilla. It’s an egg based dished filled with vegetables and other goodies. I checked out a Moroccan cookbook from my library and decided this was the perfect use of some of my recent CSA ingredients: eggs, leeks and almonds. The recipe actually called for walnuts, but since the almonds were handy, I decided to make a substitution. Plus it also uses turmeric which I’ve been reading good things about.

Leek and Almond Kookoo

  • 2 tbsp butter + more for greasing
  • 3/4 lb leeks, finely diced
  • 5 tbsp almonds, chopped or slivered
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp turmeric (optional but tasty)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp parsley (again, optional but tasty)

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 2 qt casserole (I used a 9×9.)

Over medium heat in a medium skillet, melt butter. Stir in leeks, almonds, flour, salt, pepper & turmeric, then remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Pour leek mixture into the eggs, and stir until everything is mixed. Pour into prepared casserole and bake for 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick can be removed cleanly.

Serves 4. Makes for a nice meal along with some plain yogurt, a simple salad and a piece of pita.

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