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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: orange

Asian Chicken

Ingredients

2 pounds chicken (thighs, breasts- skin on or off according to preference)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green onions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons peeled ginger, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Combine the green onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, juice and chili flakes in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken. Seal and shake to coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

To grill:
Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat (about 400°F) with two zones for direct and indirect cooking. Use tongs to oil the grill grates using a small folded piece of paper towel dipped in oil. Arrange the chicken over the high-heat section of the grill and cook for 5 minutes, or until you see dark, seared grilled marks. Turn the chicken and keep over the hot section for another 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the indirect section of the grill (this helps avoid overcooking) and cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F for breasts and 180°F for thighs in the thickest part of the meat, another 10 to 15 minutes.

To broil:
Place the chicken on a broiling pan with a rack sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Add 1/4 cup of water to the tray underneath to prevent the fat from catching on fire. Broil the chicken on high heat, 9 inches from the cooking source, for about 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F for breasts and 180°F for thighs in the thickest part of the meat, another 10 to 15 minutes.

Bacon Fried Rice

Ingredients

4 cups cold cooked white rice
2 teaspoons peanut oil
8 bacon slices, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 green onions

Directions

Thinly slice the scallions and set aside the green portions. Bring the cooked rice to room temperature; set aside.
In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
Add the white sliced scallions and celery, and sauté together for 4-5 minutes more, turning down the heat slightly if too much browning occurs.


Add the peas, and stir to combine. Then gently stir in the rice. Let the rice mixture heat thoroughly over medium heat. Make a well in the middle, and add the eggs. Stir occasionally to make sure they’re cooking, then stir them into the rice. There should be little bits of cooked egg throughout the rice. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce. and green onion tops. Serve immediately.

Broccoli In Oyster Sauce

Ingredients

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of sugar
Water
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 head broccoli (1 1/2 pounds)

Directions

Trim the broccoli and cut into long florets. In a small bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water.


In a large skillet, heat peanut oil over medium-high. Add garlic and broccoli. Cook, tossing occasionally until broccoli is bright green, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook until the broccoli is tender but still has some bite, about 2-3 minutes. Add oyster sauce mixture; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve.

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Mexican Americans have lived in the United States for most of the country’s history. Ethnically, Mexican Americans are a diverse population, but the majority are Mestizo, which in colonial times meant to be a person of half European and half Native American ancestry. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word has changed through time and currently refers to the segment of the Mexican population who do not speak indigenous languages.

The United States is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, and comprising more than 24% of the entire Mexican population of the world. Mexican American families of indigenous heritage have been in the country for at least 15,000 years, and Mestizo Mexican American history spans more than 400 years, since the 1598 founding of Spanish New Mexico. Spanish residents of New Spain in the Southwest included New Mexican Hispanos and Pueblo Indians and Genizaros, Tejanos, Californios and Mission Indians. Approximately ten percent of the current Mexican-American population are descended from the early colonial settlers who became U.S. citizens in 1848 following the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War.

Generally, when Americans speak about Mexican food, they are usually referring to Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex) cooking, an extremely popular cuisine that follows the long border between the United States and Mexico. The food of the southwestern US state of New Mexico and the dishes of many of the Native American peoples of the southwestern US have similar names to many Tex-Mex and some Mexican dishes but they use different flavorings and cooking techniques.

Dishes like chili, fajitas, salsa, tortilla chips, chimichangas, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos are actually homegrown American inventions. Even dishes that exist in Mexico like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales are cooked and served differently in the United States. True Mexican dishes are not as spicy as many US versions. American versions of Mexican entrees add prodigious quantities of cheese, either shredded or melted, to nearly every dish, a practice rare in Mexico. The same heavy hand applies to the American use of sauces of all kinds. North of the border portions are larger, plates are filled so that the food items tend to run one into the other. In Mexico, the soft corn tortilla performs the function that bread on the table performs in the United States; it is a side starch. In the United States, fried tortillas, become an ingredient in nearly every dish.

Like most immigrant groups, Mexican Americans have remained loyal to the food traditions of their homeland. Many shops in small ethnic markets carry Mexican specialty foods. When they cook, they follow recipes handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and their cooking styles have certain things in common. Meat, usually pork or beef, is central to the diet. It is often eaten with salsa on the side. Corn, beans, rice, and root vegetables are also staples, especially sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taro. Also popular is a pear-shaped squash called chayote. Here are some Mexican American recipes for you to make at home.

Carne Asada

Carne asada means grilled beef in Spanish. The best cuts for making carne asada is Arrachera or skirt steak. It’s the taste that comes to mind when you think carne asada.

In Mexico, there are several marinating techniques that vary depending on the region of the country.
In the south and in the Gulf of Mexico area, where bitter oranges are grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the meat they are using to make Carne Asada; in other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer.

Carne asada is traditionally made using a skirt or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar, but I prefer flank steak. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like long lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them.

 

Carne Asada

Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Servings: 6
Ingredients

2 limes juiced
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 pounds flank steak

Directions

In a gallon size resealable bag, combine the lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze the bag to mix it up.
Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squashing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight is better.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard the excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.
Once done, remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.

For Carne Asada Tacos

Thinly sliced grilled flank steak
Sliced tomato
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Shredded lettuce
Cotija cheese, crumbled
6 tortillas
Blood oranges, cut into eighths

Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob

Ingredients

4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or use the grill when cooking the meat.
Remove husks and silks from the corn. Place the corn on sheets of foil.
Butter corn and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Enclose the corn in foil and press the edges to seal.
Place wrapped corn on a cookie sheet or on the grill and roast for 25-30 minutes.

Mexican Red Rice

Arroz Rojo Mexicano
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth or water
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 1 to 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeño), stemmed and cut a slit down the side of each one
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Directions

Place the garlic into a blender or food processor, add the canned tomatoes and process to a smooth puree.

In a large saucepan, stir together the oil and rice. When the rice is thoroughly coated, stir in the tomato puree, broth (or water), carrots and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle in the chiles. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Gently stir the rice, re-cover and let the rice cook about 20 minutes. or until tender Taste a grain of rice: It should be very close to done at the core. If not, sprinkle in a little water, re-cover and cook 5 minutes more.

When the rice is done, uncover it and sprinkle in the peas and the parsley or cilantro. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice, reaching all the way to the edges of the bottom, to release steam and slow the cooking. Re-cover, let stand 5 minutes.

Black Beans with Chiles

Ingredients

1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 whole serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Place oil, onion, and carrot in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender. Drain beans and add to the Dutch Oven. Add whole chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 15 minutes more.


As of January 2018, the largest population of French American people live in the state of Maine. French Americans also live in Louisiana where the largest French-speaking population in the U.S. is found in St. Martin Parish. Country-wide, there are about 10.4 million U.S. residents that declare French ancestry or French Canadian descent, and about 1.32 million speak French at home as of the 2010 census. An additional 750,000 U.S. residents speak a French-based creole language.

Maine Farmers

Creole Musicians

While Americans of French descent make up a substantial percentage of the American population, French Americans are less visible than other similarly sized ethnic groups. This is due in part to a tendency of French American groups to identify more closely with “New World” regional identities such as Acadian, Brayon, Cajun, or Louisiana Creole. Unlike other immigrants who came to the United States from other countries, some French Americans arrived prior to the founding of the United States. In many parts of the country, like the Midwest and Louisiana, they were the founders of some of the villages and cities and were often the state’s first inhabitants.

New Orleans French Quarter

French immigrants introduced a wide range of interesting foods to America. For example, French Americans made the first yeast bread and brought technical farming skills that vastly improved American rice and wine. Huguenots grew and prepared the first okra, artichokes, and tomatoes. The popularity of French cuisine took off in the 1780s, following the alliance between France and the United States during the American Revolution. Many respected French chefs, such as Arthur Goussé in Los Angeles, immigrated to the United States and established restaurants. A number of French culinary terms remain prominent in modern times, including bouillon, purée, fricassée, mayonnaise, pâté, hors d’oeuvres, bisque, filet, sauté, casserole, au gratin, and à la mode.

Extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes form the basis of Provencal cuisine. This trio appears in sauces, soups, and salads, and as companions for dozens of fish, pasta and meat courses. The combo is often enhanced with fresh herbs, including parsley, oregano, fennel, basil and rosemary, as well as black Nicoise olives, capers, shallots or leeks. The stew below is classic French cuisine where beef and vegetables are simmered in red wine.

Slow-Cooked Provençal Beef Stew

Serve the stew with homemade biscuits.

Bouquet Garni
2 scallion tops (about 6 inches long)
1 bay leaf
1 medium celery stalk
2 sprigs fresh parsley, with stems
3 sprigs fresh thyme
One 2-inch-long strip orange peel

Stew
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 ounces bacon
2 pounds beef stew meat, such as chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 large, red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 large carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 pound mixed mushrooms (I used portabella and cremini), halved if small, quartered if large
1/2 bottle (375 ml) full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir
2 cups of water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated zest of 1/2 orange

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

To assemble the bouquet garni: Place one scallion top on the counter. Top with bay leaf, celery stalk, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and orange peel. Place the second scallion leaf on top and tie the bundle together in four spots with kitchen string. Set aside.

To prepare the stew: Place the bacon in an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook until barely brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving any drippings in the pot. When cool break into small pieces.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add half the beef cubes (do not crowd the pot) and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Repeat with the second batch of meat, salt, and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the beef.

Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

Pour wine and water into the pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return the browned beef, the carrot mixture and the reserved bacon to the pot. Press down on the beef and vegetables, making sure to submerge them completely in the liquid; if necessary, add just enough hot water to make sure they are covered. Place the bouquet garni on top.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the pot and press it directly on top of the stew, covering it completely. Transfer the stew to the oven and cook, with the lid off, until the beef is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Check every hour to be sure the ingredients stay submerged in liquid during the entire cooking time. If too much wine evaporates, add a little hot water to make up for the loss. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in the reserved mushrooms.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Combine chopped parsley and orange zest in a small bowl and scatter on top of the stew just before serving.


Spices are very important in Moroccan cuisine. Common spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, saffron, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper, and sesame seeds. Twenty-seven spices are combined for the famous Moroccan spice mixture called “ras el hanout”.

Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in natural resources and meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is a tagine or stew named for a special pot that is used for cooking. Common ingredients include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices that may include saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. Give this Moroccan inspired recipe a try.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili paste (harissa or sambal oelek)
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 orange, zested, then cut into segments
2 tablespoons oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemon
Couscous, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a wide, deep braising pan over medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine the chili paste, paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cardamom, cayenne, orange zest, and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir to form a paste.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper; rub half of the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the heated pan. Sear the chicken skin-side down until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the garlic, onion and remaining spice mixture to the same pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan along with the tomatoes, chicken stock, olives, preserved lemon, and sliced oranges. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to braise until the chicken is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Couscous

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ cups no salt added chicken broth

Directions

Bring the chicken broth and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour in the couscous and the olive oil, give a quick stir, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork to break up any lump and serve.

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, sliced thin
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Mix well, cover the dish and refrigerate several hours before serving.


Sautéed Grouper In Shrimp Cream Sauce

2 servings

Sauce
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup white wine
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup diced shrimp (about 6 large) (peeled and deveined)
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 teaspoon each of white pepper and salt
5 or 6 leaves of fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Grouper
2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil for sautéing
1 grouper fillet or other white fish fillets, about 8 oz
Flour
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Directions

In a saucepan, sauté the diced shallot in 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Add the wine, tomato, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil and let the broth simmer until reduced to about half. Add the shrimp and cream. Cook for about one minute or until the shrimp are barely done.

Set aside while you prepare the fish.

Put the butter and oil in a skillet large enough to cook the grouper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour.

When the butter sizzles, add the fish and cook on each side until cooked through and golden. Pour the shrimp cream sauce over the fish and garnish with basil.

Serve immediately.

Broccoli Sauté

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups broccoli florets
Zest and juice of one orange
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons toasted, slivered almonds

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest, orange juice and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.

Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.


Grilled Asian Chicken Thighs with Citrus Salsa

2 servings

Ingredients

4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs

Marinade

2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon Korean hot sauce (gochujang) or your favorite Asian hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Citrus Salsa

Half a navel orange
One red grapefruit
Zest of ½ a lemon
Zest of half an orange
1 large spring onion or 2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pinch of salt

Directions

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag and add the chicken thighs.

Coat the chicken in the marinade then seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 6-8 hours.

To make the salsa: Using a grapefruit knife, remove the fruit segments over a colander placed over a bowl. Let the fruit drain. Use the juice for another recipe.

Combine the fruit segments with the remaining salsa ingredients. Set aside while the chicken cooks.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Drain the chicken and discard the marinade in the bag. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down on the hot grill, and cook them for 7-8 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over with tongs to avoid piercing them and letting the juices run out. Cook the thighs for another 7-8 minutes.

Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are cooked when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the chicken to a platter and place the Citrus Salsa on the side of the chicken.

Spring Strawberry Salad with Warm Mozzarella Cheese

2 servings

Dressing

1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey, according to taste
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad

3 ounces leaf lettuce
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 pound cooked asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths

Mozzarella Cheese

2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, each cut ½ inch thick
1 oz chopped pecans
1 large egg white, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Purée the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until needed.

For the cheese: Dip each cheese slice into the egg wash and then into the chopped pecans, pressing on the nuts to help them stick to the cheese.

Place the slices on a baking rack set on a sheet pan or large plate and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Arrange the greens, strawberries, and asparagus on Individual salad plates,

Heat the butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chilled cheese slices and cook until softened but not melting, about 2 minutes.

With a wide spatula carefully turn the cheese slices over. If some of the nuts fall off, just scoop them up and place them back on the cheese

Place a cheese slice on top of each salad. If any nuts fall off into the pan, just sprinkle them on the salad. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve.

Grilled Asian Flavored Scallops

2 servings

Ingredients

½ lb medium sea scallops
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Allow the scallops to marinate for 15 minutes.

Skewer the scallops on soaked wooden or metal skewers and cook on a preheated indoor grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes per side.

They should be slightly firm, Serve with the Spring Vegetable Stir-fry.

Spring Vegetable Stir-fry

Stir Fry Sauce

1/3 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned (unsweetened) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or a low-carb sweetener
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper

Stir-fry Vegetables

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small head baby bok choy, sliced into 1-inch strips
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the halves, with the cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until you can poke the squash easily with a fork.

Let cool until you can handle it safely. Then scrape the insides of one half of the cooked squash with a fork to shred the squash into strands and place on a plate.

Reserve the remaining squash for another recipe.

Prepare the stir-fry sauce.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and broccoli and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.

Then stir in the bok choy and bean sprouts; cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add the stir-fry sauce and then stir in the cooked spaghetti squash and red pepper flakes.

To serve: Sprinkle the vegetable stir-fry with the cashews and serve.


The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Libya. This series continues with the country of Tunisia.

Tunisian cuisine is a combination of French, Arabic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Seafood is eaten in the coastal communities and features recipes like fettuccine with fresh seafood and a green harissa dressing, grilled mullet with lemon and celery salad, and fricassee salad with grilled cedar plank salmon. The spicy paste harissa is a staple side to every Tunisian meal. It’s made from chilies, garlic, lemon and a combination of caraway, cumin and coriander seeds. Tunisian sweets are also impressive. Their doughnuts, called “yo-yos”, are soaked in honey, lemon syrup and orange blossom water.

The diverse blend of flavors in Tunisian cuisine is representative of the country’s past and location. While the cuisine varies by region, Tunisian food usually combines French and African flavors with spicy seasonings. Couscous, the main staple in Tunisian dishes, is often topped with fresh seafood or hearty lamb depending on local availability. A melting pot of cultures, Tunisia doesn’t just feature local food but all types of international cuisine can be found in the country’s larger cities.

Though the country’s Mediterranean climate and rich soil make it an ideal location for wine production, it’s often overlooked as a wine region. But Tunisia has a rich wine history and a modern cultivation of numerous grape varietals. Tunisians first began producing wine over 2,000 years ago, but Arab control in the eighth century nearly eliminated the practice. French colonization brought winemaking back to Tunisia in the late 1800s.

The Foods of Tunisia

Couscous

Couscous is derived from semolina and is present on nearly every dinner table in Tunisia. Couscous is prepared in endless ways across the country. In coastal regions, cooks prefer to serve it with fish, while interior regions opt for lamb and dried fruit. A local favorite, Sfax Couscous, is named for Tunisia’s second largest city, which is filled with freshly caught seafood.

Briks

Briks are another staple and can be found in little shops throughout the country. Similar to a samosa, a brik is made from wrapping pastry dough around a variety of fillings, including potatoes, eggs, or tuna. The packets are then fried in grapeseed oil and served piping hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Harissa

A thick, spicy paste made from hot chili peppers and garlic, harissa is a condiment for grilled meats and fish or stirred into soups and stews for added flavor. It is often served as a dipping sauce alongside bread. Harissa’s heat level varies depending on the number and type of chili peppers used. The peppers are typically smoked to add a complex, deep flavor.

Ojja

While typically a breakfast dish, ojja is often considered fast-food by Tunisian standards. Traditional ojja combine eggs and merguez, a spicy lamb sausage, in a savory tomato sauce for a hearty, filling meal. Ojja is served with a side of grilled bread in place of a spoon or fork.

YoYos

Tunisians take dessert seriously and they are routinely served after a large evening meal and accompanied with mint tea. Some local desserts include sweet cakes, fried almond pastries, and ice cream. But the Tunisian doughnuts, YoYos, are the favorite.

Mint tea

The melding of many cultures and flavors is apparent in Tunisia’s most popular drink, sweet mint tea. Served hot or over ice, this beverage is topped with pine nuts, a twist of flavor and texture, especially for those not accustomed to nuts in their tea.

Wine Regions

Muscat

Tunisia has seven distinct controlled designation-of-origin regions known locally as AOCs (for their French name, appellation d’origine controlee). The naming of wine regions is modeled after the French, with whom Tunisia shares many of the same grape varietals, such as Muscat.

Sidi Saad

Sidi Saad is a wine blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Produced using traditional methods in the Gran Cru Mornag region, Sidi Saad is corked in a distinctively shaped bottle.

Gris de Tunisie

Gris de Tunisie, or grey Tunisian wine, is the country’s most famous and unique wine. The wine is a dusky rose in color and tastes like a fruity rosé. It is best served on hot days paired with a spicy seafood dish.

Chateau Mornag Rosé

Chateau Mornag Rosé is the country’s most popular. Produced in the Mornag area in Northern Tunisia, it is light, crisp and tastes best with the region’s Mediterranean-influenced cuisine.

Make Some Tunisian Recipes At Home

Tunisian Harissa

Ingredients

100 g dried long red chilies, seeded
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Directions

Soaking time 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Place chilies in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Place a small plate directly on top of chilies to keep them submerged then set aside for 1½ hours or until very soft. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat, add the spices and fry, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Finely grind spices in an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Combine the drained chilies, spices, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the remaining ingredients in a small food processor. Process to a smooth paste, occasionally scraping down the sides. Push mixture through a food mill, extracting as much purée as possible; the solids should be dry. Transfer mixture to a sterilized jar and seal. Harissa will keep for up to 1 year stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

Tunisian breakfast. Capers, chopped almonds, chopped olives, yogurt and some mint can all be added at the end, and the soup is commonly served ladled over cubes of day old bread. Tuna is often added also.

Ingredients

100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Large pinch saffron
1 tablespoon harissa
2 liters (8 cups) chicken stock
4 (400g) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tomatoes, cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4-6 eggs (depending on the number of servings)

To serve

Large handful coriander leaves
Slices of baguette, extra harissa, and lemon wedges, to serve
2 tbsp baby capers, drained
2 tbsp chopped blanched almonds

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until softened. Add the cumin and coriander and saffron and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes. Stir in the harissa then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan then cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and add the vinegar. Crack each egg into a saucer then add them, one at a time, to the simmering water. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Carefully remove each using a slotted spoon to a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain excess water.

Divide the hot soup among large bowls. Place an egg in each bowl. Scatter over the coriander, capers, and almonds. Serve with the baguette, extra harissa, and lemon wedges to the side.

Broiled Red Mullet with Celery Salad

Ingredients

4 red mullets, cleaned (each 340 g net)
12 g mixed fresh bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoon salt

Lemon and Celery Salad

4 long, thin green capsicum (peppers), or 1 regular green capsicum (pepper) (140 g gross)
50 ml olive oil
1 lemon, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm dice (35 g net)
3 tender celery stalks, cut into 1 cm dice (120 g net)
10 g tender celery leaves, finely chopped
15 g parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
30 g black olives, pitted
½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sumac

Directions

To make the salad, place the capsicum in a baking dish. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil and roast in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes ( or longer for regular capsicum), or until the skin is blistered and the flesh is soft. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel, cut into 1 cm dice and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, the lemon, celery, and leaves, parsley, garlic, olives, chili flakes, and salt. Stir well and set aside.

Score the red mullet 2–3 times on each side in parallel lines at a 45-degree angle to the fish. Slice the bay leaves into fine strips and stuff into the incisions, followed by each of the other herbs. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with foil. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, olive oil and salt. Drizzle or brush this over the fish.

Preheat a broiler on high. Once hot, place the fish underneath and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, or until the flesh is firm and cooked through. Serve the fish with the salad on the side, garnished with sumac.

Tunisian Doughnuts (yo-yos)

Ingredients

7 g sachet dried yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
60 ml (¼ cup) orange juice
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra, to deep-fry
300 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted

Honey syrup

2 tablespoons lemon juice
110 g (½ cup) white sugar
360 g (1 cup) honey
2 teaspoons orange blossom water, optional

Directions

Place yeast, sugar and 125 ml (½ cup) lukewarm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Add orange juice, zest, and 2 tablespoons oil, and stir to combine. Place flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture into the well and stir until combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.) Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

To make the honey syrup, place the lemon juice, sugar and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Add honey and orange blossom water, if using, then reduce the heat to low–medium and cook the mixture for 35 minutes or until the consistency of a runny honey; watch syrup to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.

Fill a deep-fryer or large pan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Working in batches, tear off a piece of dough about the size of a plum and flatten slightly with your hand. Tear a hole in the middle and stretch the dough to make a 12–15cm ring. Gently drop the dough into the oil and deep-fry, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until crisp, golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Using a skewer, pierce yo-yos on both sides, then soak in honey syrup for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.



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