Lentil Salad with Arugula and Feta (And a Warm Honey Vinaigrette to Make Your Heart Melt)

Just a few things I’d like to say to you.  Firstly, thank you so much for actually trying these recipes.  While I try to take myself seriously as much as possible, I’m always surprised when other people do, so thank you.

Secondly, as you may have surmised sometimes it’s hard for me to know if these recipes are worth your time, because the only palate I have to rely on is my own.  And while I am constantly aiming for improvements in said palate, it’s always comforting when there are others to confirm the deliciousness (or lack thereof) of the food I make.  So when I made this salad for my family, I was doing secret self-high fives when it turned into an “ooh” “yum” “I can’t stop sticking my fork straight in the plate” kind of moment.  I’m especially flattered when these moments come from my sister, whose opinion I value immensely. My dad made roast chicken, and I served this up along with some grilled fennel.

A few notes on the salad. If you’re wondering why I ask you to chop the arugula, it’s because I’d rather the lettuce be reduced to more manageable pieces which will fit onto a fork nicely with the lentils.

The dressing: it’s a big deal for me.  I’ve recently come to the conclusion that warm dressings are to salads what iPhones are to adults: in no way necessary but a whole lot of fun. Please play around with all of the ingredient quantities – I know what I like, but perhaps you like things a touch sweeter or a tad more acidic.  Change accordingly. It might taste bad at one point (mine did) but keep playing around and I guarantee it will turn into something outrageous.

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Summer Egg Tortilla with Zucchini, Almonds, and Prosciutto

Here is a recipe I made for lunch the other day, highlighting one of my favorite summer ingredients: zucchini, a type of summer squash.  Its soft, dark green exterior gives way to a meaty and flavorful interior that tastes delicious as is with just a splash of lemon juice and a bit of salt, but which also tastes great in a number of salads, soups, sautes, and roasts.

I decided here to saute it quickly and combine it in an egg tortilla of sorts (think more of an egg wrap) with toasted and sliced almonds, feta, and prosciutto.  I chose not to use the Italian-style prosciutto from where the ingredient’s name finds origin, opting instead for a Spanish style prosciutto, or “jamon Serrano,” whose thin and flavorful slices provide a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a delightfully salty ham taste.

The egg wrap itself has fresh chopped herbs mixed in so every bite packs a punch.  I made this for a lighter lunch but you can instantly make this dish more substantial by wrapping all ingredients up in a soft, pillowy tortilla.

You will have leftover zucchini, which I recommend tossing with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and serving as a side salad with your egg wrap.  Enjoy!

Summer Egg Tortilla with Zucchini, Almond, Feta, and Prosciutto – serves 1

  • 2 eggs (large organic preferably – from local farmer even better!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs, such as chives, parsley, cilantro, or mint
  • 1 small handful sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 slices prosciutto, shredded with your hands into bite-size pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons feta cheese

1. In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs vigorously until well combined. Add herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
2. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add almond slices and toast until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove almonds from skillet and set aside.
3. Return skillet to medium heat and add half of butter, cooking until it starts to bubble. Add half of zucchini and a pinch of salt. Cook until zucchini is golden, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes. Remove zucchini from skillet.
4. Add rest of butter. Once butter is melted and just starting to bubble add eggs, and don’t stir. Tilt pan occasionally and slide eggs toward center of pan to let uncooked egg slide to bottom of skillet. Once bottom side of eggs has set, use an inverted plate to flip it over (place plate over skillet – flip eggs onto plate, slide eggs back into skillet so uncooked side is facing down). Cook about 30 seconds longer, or until eggs have just set.
5. Slide eggs onto plate. Top with prosciutto, feta, zucchini, and almonds. Roll and hold in place with toothpicks. Enjoy!

Blackened Salmon with Feta-Yogurt Sauce and Golden Couscous

This recipe was particularly fun to make, and especially fun to photograph.  For some reason I ended up putting it on my floor, taking a photo of it there, and then sitting in the same spot and eating the whole dish.  There is a small window of time, usually around 2pm, when sun manages to find a small crevice between all of the tall New York City buildings and floods into my second floor apartment, and therefore onto me.  I love sitting and eating under the sunshine during this brief moment, which is what I was able to do today.

The truth is that I just got back from a relaxing and much-appreciated vacation with my mom and sister in Barbados, and I’ve got fish on my mind in a major way.  Almost every meal we ate there featured grilled fish – usually mahi mahi, snapper, or dorado – lightly seasoned and served with plenty of Scotch bonnet hot sauce (my new favorite hot and slightly sweet sauce, in case you’re wondering).  For this reason the only recipe ideas that were swimming in my mind were fish, spicy, and sweet.  Thus was born this recipe which I am delighted to share with you!

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Chicken Breast Stuffed with Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving!  And if you didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a great Thursday last week.  I took a few days off from writing and posting but I wanted to get back into things with this easy chicken recipe which I think you’ll have no problem making for yourself at home.

This time I’m trying something new (hey, that’s what the blogging world is all about, right?) and I made a little video to accompany the recipe.  Just to warn you, this is the first video I’ve ever made for my blog!  So it’s kind of budget – there are no transitions, and I took the video using my iPhone, so the quality isn’t fantastic.  But I think it will help you make the recipe and to see how easy it is to put it all together.

As always, the written recipe will be typed up and highlighted below in yellow.

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>Walnut-Pomegranate Spread with Feta

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My inspiration for this spread comes from a Persian dish I grew up eating (khoresht fesenjan) that features a stew of walnuts, pomegranate, and braised chicken which is traditionally served with steaming white rice, and which is, in my humble opinion, finger-licking good.  This recipe calls for pomegranate paste, which is a syrup made from the seeds of a tart member of the pomegranate family. 
I’m not completely sure if you can find pomegranate syrup at a gourmet grocer; you should ask in any case.  However, you can definitely find it in middle eastern/persian spice markets in your town.  You may want to look here if you live in:
Los Angeles – Walk out your door, you will likely find a Persian grocery store within a 200-foot radius.
As for the taste:  rich, nutty, sweet, slightly tart, and very delicious.  As you see in the top photo, I enjoy eating this spread with feta and crusty sourdough bread, but how you eat it is up to you.  I imagine it could go very well with goat cheese – if you have any other suggestions please let me know!
Walnut-Pomegranate Spread w/ Feta – makes about 2 cups spread
This spread can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.
2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon flour
1/4-cup pomegranate Molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
crumbled feta cheese
1.  Toast the walnuts in your oven or on the stove; 350 degrees for ten minutes in the oven, medium heat for 10 minutes on the stove.
2.  Once they have cooled to room temperature, chop them up roughly, then transfer to a food processor and grind to a powder, about 10 seconds in the processor.
3.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat; add the flour, and toast lightly, 2-3 minutes.
4.  Add 1 cup water, and stir until flour and water are just combined.
5.  Add walnuts, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and oil rises to the top, about 20 minutes.
6.  Add pomegranate paste and sugar, sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper, and cook until mixture thickens to a spread-like consistency, about 5 minutes longer.  Serve as is or add more pomegranate paste, salt, and pepper to taste.
7.  Let cool to room temperature; spread on a slice of bread and top with crumbled feta.

>French Lentils w/ Feta and Sundried Tomatoes

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My inspiration for making french lentils comes from a visit I made with my sister to Rose Bakery, which is a restaurant and take-out cafe in the Montmartre area of Paris that features delicious, fresh, and creative dishes.  It’s a small and pretty unique place; I love that as soon as we walked in, we saw a counter of the day’s offerings on our right, and a supply of their fresh produce and various products on our left (see photo).



We were pleasantly surprised by the freshness of all the dishes we tried, and the emphasis placed on fresh, local, and seasonal products.  As I mentioned before, the lentil salad stuck with us the most; the creaminess of the cheese mixed with the salty and chewy flavors of the lentils blended so nicely together.  I’ve tried to recreate that here, and I hope you find it satisfying.  Merci!




French Lentils with Feta and Sundried Tomatoes- Serves 1
Quick note: I used sundried tomatoes that weren’t oil-packed, but only because my supermarket didn’t have the oil-packed version – I think the latter would taste better in this salad.
1/2 cup French lentils, dried
2 cups water
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 sprigs thyme
salt
6 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
olive oil
pepper
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 lemon

1. In a small saucepan, pour in the lentils, water, thyme sprigs, garlic clove, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils in a colander.


2. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, then add the sundried tomatoes and 1/2 of the rosemary (if you’re using oil-packed tomatoes, place 1/2 a tablespoon olive oil in the skillet). Cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes, then add the lentils and remaining rosemary. Stir everything together, and cook for about 5 minutes longer.


3.  Toss in the basil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

4. Pour on a platter, and toss in the feta cheese.

As usual, I would highly recommend eating this with a baguette.
Bon appetit!

>Roasted Beets and Onions w/ Feta and Almonds

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Ok, I’ve been on a mission to find an easy and delicious recipe for roasted beets, and I have finally found it. While I was in Burgundy I was thinking about what cheese I could pair beets with; I initially thought goat cheese, but then I realized that something a little more pungent like feta cheese could add a saltier and deeper dimension which would make the flavors of the dish a little stronger.


This recipe is so easy, healthy, and rich – the salty feta flavor pairs nicely with the pungent and sweet flavor of beets. The toasted almonds provide a nutty and creamy element, while the slowly caramelized onions add a silky texture that makes you want to dip your fork in right away for seconds!



So please try this dish if you’re looking for something to do with beets, but you’re not sure what. This is such an easy dish, it probably requires about ten minutes of work in the kitchen – the oven does the rest!


Roasted Beets and Onions w/ Feta and Almonds – serves 1
1 fresh beet
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 handful almonds or walnuts
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1.  Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the onions on it.  Sprinkle the onions with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil, and mix together to spread everything evenly. 

2.  Next, wrap your beet in tin foil, push the onions to one side of the dish, and place the beet next to the onions. Cook the beet and onions for about 1- 1 1/4 hours, or until the onions are golden and shiny.


3. Once they are ready, take the onions and beets out of the oven and let them cool for about ten minutes.


4.  In the meantime, put the almonds in a small baking dish (the same one works too) and cook them in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until golden.


5.  When your beet has cooled down, peel it, and slice it into 1/2-inch thick rounds.


6. Lay the onions on a plate, then place the beets over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the toasted almonds, and the feta cheese.

Enjoy with some fresh bread. Merci, à très bientôt !