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

This is my suggestion for a glorious vegetarian main course. I bet that even avid meat-eaters will enjoy it. The combination of the sweet, mini squash with the tart quince is perfect!  For the stuffing I adapted the recipe for the Stuffed Quince I have in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts (page 156). But I omitted the tomato sauce.  

The small squash can be an interesting substitute for quince in case you cannot get the fragrant old apple-like fruit, which is the epitome of our Mediterranean winter. I actually envy my American friends because they can get these absolutely fantastic mini butternut squash, or honey-nut-squash as they are called. They were developed by Michael Mazourek, a plant breeder at Cornell University, in collaboration with the visionary Dan Barber.

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. (more…)

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Santorini Fava with Caramelized Onions and Capers

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Braised capers are an ideal topping for the local fava, the trademark dish of Santorini. Today Santorini Fava is served as a meze at taverns throughout Greece, usually prepared with mashed, imported yellow split peas (dal), dressed simply with fruity olive oil, topped with sliced onions and dried Greek oregano.  In the old days, though, fava was made from dried fava beans and/or from an indigenous, ancient legume, a variant of Lathyrus sativus (chickling vetch or grass pea), called cicerchia in Italian and almorta in Spanish.

Inspired chef Dimitris Mavrakis, in Kritamon, his wonderful restaurant in Archanes, Crete, makes fava with a combination of legumes: dried fava beans, split peas and some lentils, and the flavor of the pureed beans is wonderful, even without any topping (see variation).

8-10 Meze servings (more…)

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Kapuska: Cabbage with Ground Meat and Farro

Kapuska bowls S

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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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.

Rice porridge S

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.

Quince Carrot Egg1 S

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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