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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cucumbers

Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend I grilled a whole chicken and, of course, there were leftovers. The leftovers made a delicious filling for the peppers. Here is the link to the grilled chicken and my recipe for Ranch Salad Dressing.

Ingredients

2 large bell peppers
1/2 cup water

Filling
1 cup of shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup leftover rice or cauliflower rice
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 scallions, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the peppers and reserve them. Remove the pepper seeds, wash and dry the peppers.
Combine the filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. You need about 1 cup of filling for each pepper.

Fill the hollowed out pepper cups and place them in a baking dish where they can stand upright. Put the tops on the peppers and pour the water in the baking dish around the bottom of the peppers.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Corn and Black Bean Saute

Ingredients

2 cups corn kernels
1 seeded and minced jalapeno
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups canned or homemade black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Saute the corn, jalapeno, and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until corn is just tender. Stir in the black beans and cilantro. Season and heat.

Sliced Cucumbers With Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

1 English cucumber
Ranch Dressing (your favorite or my recipe in the link at the top of this post.)

Directions

Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Place on a serving plate and drizzle with ranch dressing.

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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.


Grilled Lamb Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

4 loin lamb chops, about 1 ¼ lb total
Lemon wedges

Marinade
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning store-bought (or combine equal parts of coarse salt, Turkish oregano, garlic, dried lemon zest, black pepper, and marjoram and use 1 teaspoon in this recipe)

Directions

Place the lamb chops in a medium ziplock bag with the marinade ingredients. Seal the bag, shake and store the bag in the refrigerator for several hours before grilling.

To grill the lamb chops:

Preheat an outdoor or stovetop grill. Oil the grill.
Remove the chops from the marinade and grill them over medium-high heat, turning once, until medium-rare, about 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chops to a serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, the Greek Salad, Tzatziki, and grilled pita.

Greek Vegetable Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice
1 large tomato, seeded and cut in large dice
4 -5 pepperoncini, seeded and cut in large dice
1/4 of a red onion, cut in large dice
12 Greek olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano or Greek seasoning
1/2 teaspoon honey

Directions

In a serving bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, pepperoncini, onions, olives, and feta cheese. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Tzatziki Sauce

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 scallion, minced
1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon za’atar or dried oregano

Directions

Place the grated cucumber in a fine-mesh sieve and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and drain for about 30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, parsley, and oregano or za’atar and stir to combine.
Add the cucumber to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine.
Cover and refrigerate for about an hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

 

Grilled Pita Bread

A very good tasting low carb mini pita (4g net carbs) is made by Joseph’s Middle East Bakery

2 servings

Ingredients

2 small (mini) pita bread
Olive oil
Za’atar

Directions

Lightly brush both sides of each pita with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little za’atar. Place on the grill for 1 minute, turn them over and grill for 1 minute more. Serve with the Tzatziki Sauce.


Serve with tzatziki (recipe below) and pita bread. A Greek salad rounds out the meal.

Pork Souvlaki

I used pork for this dinner. Prepare the meat 1 day ahead.

Servings 6

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs boneless pork loin or boneless chicken or lamb loin, cut into 1″ cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (or use 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme,
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.)
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Greek seasoning and water in a plastic ziplock bag.
Place the pieces of pork in the bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat the meat really well, Place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.’

Place wooden skewers to soak in cold water for about 30 minutes before placing the meat on the skewers or use metal skewers.
Preheat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan to medium-high heat. You may also use a broiler.
Thread the pieces of pork onto the skewers; discard unused marinade.
Grill the kebabs, turning them every 2-3 minutes until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Serve immediately with tzatziki sauce and a small pita bread.

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (not low-fat)
2 scallions (green onions), minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Peel and seed the cucumber. Grate the cucumber on a box grater or finely chop. Place in a colander and add the salt. Let drain for 10-15 minutes. Turn out onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.

Place the yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add the grated cucumber to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients and stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator several hours before serving.

Greek Salad

Dressing
1/2 cup red wine vinegar,
2 garlic cloves, crushed,
1/2 teaspoon dried basil,
1 teaspoon dried oregano,
1 tablespoon sugar,
1/2 teaspoon salt,
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice.

Directions

Pour all the ingredients into a large jar and shake well..
Place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors.
Use the Greek dressing with your favorite Greek salad ingredients: romaine lettuce, green peppers, red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini and crumbled feta.


Grilled Swordfish

According to Seafood Watch.org, Swordfish caught in the Atlantic with harpoons or handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines and Western and Central Pacific with handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines, or by U.S. fleets in the Atlantic with buoys, is a “Best Choice.” Swordfish populations are healthy, and there are no major bycatch concerns in these fisheries. This is the type of swordfish that I purchase.

4-6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
4 Swordfish Steaks, 1/2 inch thick, (about 1 1/2 Pounds Total Weight)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian Flavored Panko Crumbs
Lemon Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Place the swordfish in a glass dish, scatter garlic over fish and then pour the olive oil over all.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to grill:
Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a plate. Pour the marinade into a measuring cup. Reserve.
Place a sheet of heavy foil on a baking sheet and poke a few holes in the foil.
Place the swordfish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each lightly with panko crumb. Turn the fish over and sprinkle with panko.
Heat an outdoor grill to high. Slide the foil with the fish still on it onto the grill grates. Lower heat to medium. Cook about 15 minutes until the crumbs begin to brown the and the fish is cooked through. Do not turn fish.

Remove fish to a plate and pour the lemon sauce over the fish or serve on the side.

Lemon Sauce

Add more olive oil to the oil in the measuring cup that was used for the swordfish marinade to equal 1/2 cup.
Add
1/4 hot water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
Whisk and warm in the microwave when ready to serve.

Linguine with Pesto Cream Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb linguine
1 cup pistachio basil pesto sauce, see recipe
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander.
In the same pot add the pesto, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Warm over low heat and then add the cooked linguine. Cook for a minute or two. Pour into a serving bowl and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Cucumber Orange Salad

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, sliced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded & sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 orange, cut into segments
1 jalapeno; ribs & seeds removed, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette

Directions

Combine the salad ingredients in a serving bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve immediately.

 


Stir-Fried Beef with Asparagus

I had enough Pork Fried Rice leftover to serve with this dish. See the recipe.

Ingredients

1 pound lean, tender beef steak (tenderloin, top sirloin, ribeye or strip steak) sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch green onions, cut on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Combine beef and cornstarch in large bowl. Using hands, rub to coat well.
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add beef in single layer and cook, undisturbed, until the meat begins to brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until the second side browns, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to large plate.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, green onions, garlic and ginger; sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to boil. Return beef to the skillet and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve with rice or fried rice.

Asian Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut crosswise into half moons
1 teaspoon sea salt
One small red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

Garnish
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
¼ cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Dressing
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Mirin
1 scallion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Directions

Place sliced cucumbers into a fine-mesh strainer suspended inside a medium-sized bowl. Season with the 1 teaspoon sea salt. Toss thoroughly to combine. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to overnight to drain the cucumbers of excess moisture.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar through the sugar. Whisk well and set aside.
Transfer the cucumbers to a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry. Combine the cucumbers and red onions scallions to a medium-sized bowl. Add the dressing and toss. Place the salad in the refrigerator and allow the flavors to develop, for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

When ready to serve, garnish with sesame seeds and peanuts.


Grilled Steak Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 pound French-cut, bone-in ribeye steak, about 2 inches thick
Olive oil

Steak Rub
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salad
4 cups packed fresh lettuce leaves, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Half a medium red onion, thinly sliced
Half a cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, cut in eighths
4 large radishes, sliced thin
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons very good balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, combine the rub ingredients. Brush the steak with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasoning over the entire steak and set aside.

To make the dressing:
Place the garlic and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the grilled steak:
Heat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. Oil the grill grates or pan. Prepare one side of the grill for indirect heat or turn the heat under a grill pan to very low. Place the steak on the indirect side of the grill.
Plan on grilling the steaks for 10-15 minutes on each side over indirect heat. When the internal temperature measures 80-85 degrees turn the steak over. If it’s higher, decrease the amount of cook time on the second side to 5-10 minutes. Once the internal temperature of the meat is about 120 degrees move the steak to the direct heat side of the grill for 2 minutes per side for searing. For a grill pan, turn the heat to high and sear the steak for the same amount of time. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.

For the salad:
Toss the lettuce with half the vinaigrette. Place the lettuce on a serving platter. Top the lettuce with the cheese, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, radishes, and avocado. Line each topping in its own individual row.
Slice the steaks into strips and place them on the salad platter. Drizzle the remaining balsamic vinaigrette over the salad ingredients.



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