Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Grains

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup quick-cooking Italian farro (available at Whole Foods)
1 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 lb lean ground beef
1/4 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large minced garlic clove
Salt & pepper to taste
1 large green bell peppers halved lengthwise and seeded
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese plus more for topping

Directions

Combine the farro, water, and salt in a microwave bowl. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Set aside the bowl without draining the farro while you prepare the stuffing.
Mix the Italian tomatoes with the red pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning. Pour into a baking dish large enough to fit the peppers.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add the beef and sausage. Cook until light brown. Let cool.
Drain the farro.
In a mixing bowl, combine the meat mixture with the farro, mozzarella cheese, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together..Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.


Place stuffed green bell pepper halves in the baking dish over the tomato sauce; cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, top each pepper with additional shredded mozzarella cheese and return the dish to the oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale

Ingredients

2 bunches Tuscan Kale
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Wash the kale thoroughly. Remove the stems and cut the leaves into smaller pieces. Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, and the red pepper flakes start to sizzle. Add the garlic. Working quickly, so the garlic does not burn, add the kale. (Some splattering and crackling of oil may occur from the water on the kale.) Using tongs, toss the kale in the pan for 2-4 minutes until the kale has wilted and cooked to desired tenderness. Keep the kale moving to avoid scorching any pieces. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese just before serving.


Although the granules look like grains, couscous is actually tiny pasta made from a type of wheat called semolina. Unlike other pastas, which are mixed with water and eggs into sheets, couscous is made by rubbing semolina between wet hands until minuscule pieces are formed. The couscous is then dried and later cooked in boiling water.

Israeli couscous
Israeli couscous is also a type of pasta but consists of granules that are much larger – about the size of small pearls. Made from wheat flour and semolina, Israeli couscous has a ball-like shape and is toasted, rather than dried, after the granules are formed. This process gives Israeli couscous a nuttier flavor and chewy bite that adds an unexpected touch to regional recipes.

Mediterranean Scallops Over Couscous

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on the finished dish
Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of crumbled saffron threads
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
13-14 oz container no-salt-added diced Italian tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup vegetable broth
10 ounces bay scallops, tough side muscle removed
1/3 cup frozen peas
Chopped parsley
2 lemon wedges

Directions

Heat oil in a medium covered skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and saffron; cook for 20 seconds. Add couscous and cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes, bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the couscous is tender.

Increase the heat to medium, stir in peas and scallops; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until the scallops are just cooked through. (If the scallops are not all the same size, place the larger scallops in the pan first, wait several seconds and then add the smaller ones).

Drizzle with olive oil, top with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


Crispy Oven Baked Shrimp

Servings: 2. Double for 4 servings.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 lb large peeled (about 12), deveined raw shrimp (16-20 count), tail-on
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 medium finely chopped garlic clove
2 tablespoons Italian flavored panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Coat the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil.

Pat shrimp dry and place them in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the shrimp evenly with pepper and salt.

Whisk butter, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl; pour the mixture evenly over the shrimp.

In a mixing bowl combine the Panko, Parmesan cheese, chives, and the remaining oil; stir to combine.

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Roasted Zucchini

2 servings. Double for 4 servings.

Ingredients

Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
6 grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon garlic-flavored olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Coat a baking dish with the cooking spray.
Arrange zucchini halves, flesh side up, in the prepared baking dish. Arrange the grape tomatoes on the sides of the squash.

Drizzle olive oil over zucchini. Season the flesh with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle thyme, Herbes de Provence and garlic powder over the top. Roast 8 to 10 minutes, until tender and golden brown.

Rice Pilaf

4 servings

Ingredients

Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Lundberg wild rice blend
Salt to taste

Pilaf

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Half a red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 chopped celery stalk
2 tablespoons toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Bring the broth, rice, oil, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. When the liquid returns to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer 40 -50 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, and add the onion, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until tender, and the mushrooms have softened about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice and the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring until the sherry has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasonings.


Have you ever ordered fish cooked in a banana leaf wrap in a restaurant? Delicious; and so I thought I would try making such a dish at home.

Banana leaves are very inexpensive to buy – a few dollars for a large pack. Banana leaves come in large, flat plastic bags at your local Asian market or supermarket (check the freezer if you can’t find them on the shelf or in the produce section).

Banana leaves can be used for baking anything “wrapped”, in the same way, you would use tin foil or parchment paper. However, banana leaves are porous (unlike tin foil), so some of the “sauce” or juices from your food item may seep through. It’s, therefore, a good idea to place your banana leaf “packets” in a glass casserole dish, or a tray that has sides on it, so that the juices don’t drip to the bottom of your oven.

Banana leaves serve many purposes, from adding flavor to foods cooked inside them, to simply being used as a colorful and exotic background for serving plates and party platters.

Banana leaves contain large amounts of polyphenols that are natural antioxidants. These are found in many plant-based foods and green tea. Food served on the banana leaves absorbs the polyphenols which are said to prevent many lifestyle diseases. They are also said to have anti-bacterial properties that can possibly kill the germs in food. The leaf wrapping protects delicate fillets from harsh, dry heat.

You can also use banana leaves as a kind of “mat” for barbecuing fragile fillets of fish, smaller shrimp, or vegetables that have a danger of falling through the grill. Simply lay a piece of banana leaf on your grill, then cook your food items on top of it (as you would with tin foil). The banana leaf will turn bright green at first, then brown as you cook. It will give your food a hint of flavor that is very pleasant.

To store banana leaves, simply wrap them in plastic and place them in a ziplock plastic bag and keep in the freezer. Banana leaves only require about 30 minutes to thaw, so this is a convenient way to keep them fresh.

Use scissors to cut the banana leaves into the size you need, depending on your recipe. For wrapping and baking food items, you will need a large “sheet” or leaf. Place enough for one serving in the center of the leaf, then fold like a handkerchief to make a square packet.

Banana leaves are also excellent for steaming, as it allows the steam to penetrate the food inside or on top of it. You can use banana leaves to line a steamer or to wrap your food and then steam it.

Secure banana leaf “packets” with kitchen twine. Or simply place the packet “seam-side” down to keep it from opening.

Caribbean Inspired Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves

Serves 2. Double the ingredients for 4 servings.

Ingredients

6 navel orange slices, rind removed
2 (6-oz.) sustainable skinless white fish fillets (such as snapper, halibut, or sea bass)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 (12-in.-square) fresh or thawed frozen banana leaf pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the thawed banana leaves in hot water to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and place on a kitchen towel.

Coat fish fillets with oil and place them in the center of each banana leaf. Stir together salt, coriander, cinnamon, red pepper, ginger, and nutmeg; sprinkle evenly over the tops of the fish fillets. Place 3 orange slices on top of each fish fillet.

Fold each banana leaf piece to enclose the fish. Place packets, folded side down, on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish. Bake at 400°F until fish is done, about 15-20 minutes. Unwrap and transfer fillets and orange slices onto serving plates. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Wild Rice, Almond and Mushroom Pilaf

Ingredients

Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Lundberg wild rice blend
Salt to taste

Pilaf

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Half a red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 chopped celery stalk
2 tablespoons toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Bring the broth, rice, oil, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. When the liquid returns to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer 40 -50 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, and add the onion, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until tender, and the mushrooms have softened about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice and the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring until the sherry has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with the fish.

Honey- Baked Squash

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large acorn squash (1 1/2 pounds), seeds removed cut into 8 lengthwise wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the squash wedges on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Drizzle the olive oil over the squash wedges.


Sprinkle the squash with the cinnamon, salt, and pepper and drizzle with the honey. Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes, or until browned at the edges and very tender when pierced with a fork.


Mustard Crusted Lamb Chops And Kale

2 servings

For the lamb marinade
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
4 loin lamb chops

For the lamb
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled, sliced
2 bunches kale, washed, stalks removed, roughly sliced, blanched for 2-3 minutes in salted water, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Fo r the Italian Farro
See recipe

Directions

For the lamb, combine the marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag. Add the lamb chops, seal and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Let come to room temperature before cooking. Reserve the garlic halves and discard the marinade.

Mix together the mustard and breadcrumbs in a bowl until well combined. Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper.
Spread the mustard crumbs on both sides of each chop; pressing the crumbs into the meat.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet and place the chops in the pan along with the reserved garlic halves and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook the lamb chops without moving for 4 minutes. Using a wide a spatula carefully turn the chops over and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Discard the garlic.

For the kale, heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Stir-fry for one minute, then add the kale and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, or until tender. Add the lemon juice and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the lamb chops on a plate with the kale and the Italian Farro or mashed potatoes.


Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass With Lemon Sauce

2 servings

Ingredients

1 lemon halved, seeds removed
2 (6-7ounces each) Chilean Sea Bass fillets skin removed, each cut in half
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or oregano

Directions

Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add lemon cut-side down. Coat fish in flour that has been mixed with salt and pepper. When the lemon just begins to brown, about 3 minutes, push them to one side of the skillet and add oil and fish. Cook until fish is browned and just opaque in the center, about 4 minutes per side, lowering heat if lemons and fish brown too quickly. Transfer fish and lemon to a serving plate.

Place the skillet over low heat and add shallot. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook for 1 minute. Squeeze 2 lemon halves through a strainer into the skillet. Remove from heat and swirl in butter. Stir in thyme and pour the sauce over the fish.

Italian Farro

Ingredients

1 cup pearled farro
1 cup fresh apple cider
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
Olive oil

Directions

Place the farro, apple cider, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the farro is tender. Drain the farro and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Discard the bay leaves.
Stir in the herbs and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Sauteed Spinach

Ingredients

2-10 oz packages frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium and let the spinach cook slowly until tender and silky., about 15 minutes.


Tip: The baking time will vary depending on how many cookie sheets are in the oven at the same time. I have found that if two cookie sheets are in the oven, the cookies below take 20 minutes. If one sheet is in the oven then the cookies take 15 minutes to bake.

Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2 cups rolled oats, not instant
1 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter, brown sugar, honey, egg, and water thoroughly.
Sift together the dry ingredients then stir in the oats. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine. Stir in the raisins.


Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, switching the pans on the racks after 10 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack. Keep in an airtight container or freeze.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients

1/2 cup very soft room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup of chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. The butter should sit on the counter for a few hours to get very soft.

Beat the butter with the peanut butter in an electric mixer until smooth. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix until creamy.
Beat in vanilla, egg, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the flour, a ½ cup at a time, until the cookie dough comes together. Stir in chocolate chips.
Using a cookie scoop drop cookie dough balls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, switching pans on the oven racks after 10 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze.



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