feasting like you’re in the mediterranean

A Mediterranean Menu

hummus from the barefoot contessa’s original cookbook

curried lentils from more with less

tabbouleh from the barefoot contessa’s parties

homemade chapatis from more with less (or pita chips if you want to splurge) to dip in the lentils and hummus

roasted cauliflower, carrots, chickpeas and couscous (perfect your lesson on foods that start with the letter “C”)

This is a meal I’ve been making a lot lately, from several different cookbooks combining lots of similar flavors and grains into one yummy lunch. I say lunch because the last few times have made it Taido and I have eaten it for several days for lunch because it does not happen to be the kids’ new favorite meal. They really snub my lentils which is just too-ooh bad for them because they are the main source of protein in this meal.

here are the recipes for this hodge podge:

hummus

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 garlic cloves, minced*

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)

2 tablespoons water or liquid from chickpeas

8 dashes Tabasco sauce*

In a food processor, pulse chickpeas, salt, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, water and Tabasco to a coarse puree.

*it occurs to me that i have made a few changes to this recipe along the way. i leave out the tabasco, double the garlic, ROAST the garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil which i also pour into the hummus. i also sometimes throw in some cumin or roasted peppers.

curried lentils

1 cup lentils

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

bring lentils to boil in a pot of salted water (about 4 cups), turn down and let simmer until tender, about 20 minutes

saute onion and garlic in skillet, add curry powder when onions are soft. drain lentils fold into onions, still cooking on low a few more minutes. salt to taste.

tabbouleh

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 ½ cups boiling water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
¼ cup good olive oil
3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

place the bulgur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about an hour.

add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. season to taste and serve, or cover and refrigerate. the flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

roasted cauliflower, carrots, chickpeas and couscous

ingredients

1 pound carrots, sliced 3/4 inch thick on the diagonal

1 head cauliflower (3 pounds), cored and cut into florets

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 cup whole-wheat couscous

1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 lemons)

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

6 scallions, thinly sliced

5 ounces baby arugula

preheat oven to 450 degrees.

place carrots and cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet; toss with cumin and 2 tablespoons oil.

season with salt and pepper.

spread half the vegetables on a second baking sheet.

roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheets and tossing halfway through.

in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups salted water to a boil.

stir in couscous; cover and remove from heat.

let stand until tender, 5 minutes.

fluff with a fork; set aside to cool, uncovered.

make dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice and remaining tablespoon oil

season with salt and pepper.

in a large bowl, combine roasted vegetables with couscous, chickpeas, and scallions.

place arugula on a serving platter, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon dressing.

add remaining dressing to couscous mixture, and toss; serve over arugula.

homemade chapatis*

the chapati is a close cousin to the tortilla of mexico, the jewish matzo, arab pocket bread, american hoecakes and spoonbread . . . and yes . . . even pancakes, waffles, english muffins, and pizza! all these—and many more—are flat breads . . . perhaps the oldest and most basic breads in existence. nearly every culture has its own version of flat bread, which—in its simplest form—consists of nothing but flour and water formed into thin, round wafers. The discs are then quickly cooked on hot stones, coals, griddles . . . or even the tops of wood stoves!

while there has been-and will continue to be—many a fallen loaf of yeast bread in the annals of baking, chapatis seem virtually foolproof . . . even for confirmed kitchen klutzes! In five years of baking these indian delicacies I have never made a bad batch (though no two have ever turned out quite the same). and, since chapatis are so easy to make, you can whip up a week’s supply—or more—in just a couple of hours. (if any are left over after you’ve wolfed down half a batch or so, wrap them in airtight packages and store ‘em in the fridge or freezer. they keep just as well as ordinary bread, but take up much less space.)

combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of clarified butter or cooking oil in a large bowl. mix thoroughly, then gradually add 1/2 to 1 cup of water (each batch varies) until the dough is smooth, elastic, and moist . . . but not sticky! then rub a small amount of oil on a breadboard—or other working surface—to prevent sticking, and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes (the more you knead, the lighter the chapatis).

although you can begin to form these tasty flat breads at once—if you wish—some cooks prefer to cover the dough and let it rest anywhere from five minutes to an hour. there’s no set rule here, though (there never is when you’re making chapatis), so experiment until you discover the procedure you prefer.

when you’re ready, divide your dough into roughly 12 egg-sized pieces. flatten each one with the heel of your hand, dust both sides lightly with flour, and roll the lumps into thin, round wafers about six inches across. (the thickness of a chapati has a lot to do with its flavor . . . the thinner each one is, the more nutlike and crackery it tastes. chapatis thicker than 1/4 inch are too dense and doughy for most palates.)

you can crank out chapatis at a pretty good clip once you get the hang of it . . . especially if one person rolls the dough while another cooks each disk as it comes off the assembly line. If you prefer to make a whole stack of the wafers before headin’ for the stove, however, be sure to dust each chapati with flour . . . or separate it from its neighbors with waxed paper. otherwise, you’re liable to end up with one big blob of congealed dough.

cook the chapatis at low to medium heat on a greaseless frying pan or griddle . . . about 30 seconds to a side—or until light brown splotches appear—for bread flexible enough to wrap around the filling of your choice. bake each disk longer if you want crisp, crackly wafers for tostadas or imitation tortilla chips.

*i found this explanation/recipe online but when i make them i barely knead the dough and i have not let the dough “rest” at all, so there is a lot of flexibility with this recipe. i made them with a 5 yr old last week and i pretty much let her do everything but the cooking and they came out great.

Bookmark the permalink.