Kapuska: Cabbage with Ground Meat and Farro

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A kind of deconstructed stuffed cabbage leaves, this is a wonderful and most satisfying winter dish. It is inspired by Ozlem Warren’s Bulguru Lahana Kapuska.  I substituted wheat berries (farro) for the bulgur, and omitted the pepper paste, adding lots of Maras pepper. I used white wine and very little water as the cooking broth, plus some crushed canned tomatoes. (more…)

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Mini-squash and Quince Stuffed with Wheat Berries, Nuts and Raisins

This time I have the perfect substitute for quince that you can use in case you cannot get the fragrant old apple-like fruit, which is the epitome of our Mediterranean winter. I actually envy you, because you can get these absolutely fantastic mini butternut squash, or honey-nut-squash as they are called, developed by Michael Mazourek, a plant breeder at Cornell University, in collaboration with the visionary Dan Barber.

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I used a variation of the stuffing I have in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts (page 156) omitting the tomato sauce.  If you are going to stuff just the squash, I suggest you add some tart apple to the stuffing, or spike its sweetness with pomegranate molasses. You can, of course add spicy sausage for flavor, since the original idea for this sumptuous vegan dish came to me from the traditional, meat-filled Turkish quince. I baked the stuffed squash and quince in a bed of Roasted Quince and Carrots and the combination was wonderful.

Serves 4

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Rice Porridge with Olive Oil and Bay Leaves

This is my variation on lapas (pronounced lah-pàhs) the traditional Greek comfort food our mothers cooked for us whenever we were sick with a stomach or tummy ache. It is a soft risotto, that is best eaten as soon as it is taken off the heat.

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But I refrigerate the leftovers and reheat in the microwave, spaying with some water, since I never serve it plain. I use it much like polenta as the base for many different strongly-flavored toppings, like the Roasted Quince and Carrots –with or without eggs or chicken– or with Baked Scallion Meatballs and Avgolemono Sauce. But it is wonderful simply mixed with just crumbled feta or any other cheese.

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Traditionally Lapas has no herbs or other flavorings, but my Georgian friends, who also prepared a similar dish, added a few bay leaves which made it wonderfully aromatic. I took their idea and now bay leaves have become part of my rice porridge. (more…)

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Mung Bean Soup with Tomato and Turmeric

Here I have adapted my mother’s simple recipe for lentil soup, a winter staple in our house for as long as I can remember. My mother added mustard to all the pulses believing that it helped tame the occasional digestive issues.

Somehow inspired by the bean’s origin I add turmeric and my mung beans become a richer and more flavorful soup than the original lentils!

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VEGAN

Serves 6 to 8 (more…)

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