Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Mediterranean style chicken and artichoke whole wheat pasta

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Mediterranean style chicken and artichoke whole wheat pasta

Sometimes the best dishes are those that I’ve cooked quickly.  I came home kind of late last night and needed to make a fast and healthy meal.  I was pretty much throwing ingredients together that I thought would make tasty combinations.  It came together in less than 30 minutes and the whole family along with a friend who happened to be hanging out all enjoyed dinner together.  I love that.  There’s nothing like eating a meal together and chatting and talking on a cool summer evening when the sun takes a long time to set.   The tangy taste of the feta and artichokes with the hint of rosemary really makes this dish taste like summer….all bright and sunny!

Saute the boneless, skinless chicken thighs with some fresh garlic

Added in marinated artichoke hearts, tomatoes, flat leafed parsley and fresh dill to the chicken

Add some dried rosemary and feta cheese to the sauce

Few handfuls of fresh spinach tossed in at the very end

Add whole wheat pasta and serve

Mediterranean style chicken and artichoke whole wheat pasta

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, coarsely chopped

1 cup of marinated artichokes, rough chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese

1 tbsp fresh dill

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp salt

1 can italian style stewed tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes chopped

2 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach

1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta (linguine, fettuccine or egg noodles)

Cook whole wheat pasta to al dente.  In a large skillet or wok heat olive oil, add chicken,salt and garlic and saute for a few minutes until chicken is no longer pink.  Add in tomatoes, artichoke hearts, dill and parsley.  Let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add in dried rosemary and feta cheese and cook for about 1 minute.  Add in spinach and let it wilt into the sauce.  Turn off heat.  Toss in cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Baklava

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Baklava

Who makes Baklava on a beautiful, Spring, Thursday afternoon?  I guess I do.  In today’s Cultural Aspects of Food class at the University of Utah we enjoyed a bounty of Fillo- filled Greek delicacies.  We made Spanakopita http://kolpona.com/2012/03/21/spanakopita-greek-spinach-triangles/ and Baklava and talked about hydrogenated fats, cholesterol and even “pink slime”.  We also talked about how we can indulge in a decadent dessert like Baklava every once in a while because it’s rich in Mono and poly unsaturated fats, a high source of protein from the nuts and has less fat and calories than the average chocolate cupcake with a mile high frosting tower.   While we talked about nutrition, food chemistry and science there was also the exclamations of “This is SOOOOO GOOOOD”, a lot of “mmmmm” and “ahhhhhs”.  That’s what learning should be don’t you think?  Amid all the scientific information there should also be the connections of culture, history and stories of  people and places.
This recipe is from my friend Kathy Paras who is a second generation Greek-American.  She’s been making this Baklava recipe for years, passed down to her from her mom and aunts.  I love recipes like this because it’s been around orally for more than one generation so you know it’s time-tested.  I also love knowing that in the middle of a busy university we talked about science and food while enjoying a dessert that someone’s mom made up in her kitchen in Greece years ago.

Baklava Ingredients

I use Almonds, Walnuts and some Pistachios for garnish

Coarsely chop the nuts in a food processor

Add freshly grated nutmeg, orange zest and other spices to nut mixture

Brush the bottom and sides of a 17x2x2 pan

Layer Fillo dough one at a time and brush each one with melted butter

Layer nut mixture in thirds, with 4-5 layers of Fillo in between

Cut Baklava into diamond shapes

Place a clove bud in the center of each diamond shape

Pour cooled syrup over hot Baklava

Let Baklava rest for at least 7 hours

Serve at room temperature

Here’s the recipe:

Baklava

1 pound box of Fillo Dough

1 pound of Walnuts

1 pound of Almonds

3/4 pound (3 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Cloves

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp orange zest

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Whole cloves

ground Pistachios for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

Take out Fillo dough and place it on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel, this is very important so the dough does not dry out. In a food processor coarsely chop the nuts.  Place the ground nuts in a large mixing bowl and add all the spices (except whole cloves), vanilla extract, sugar and orange zest.  Mix well.  Melt butter in a glass bowl and brush 17 x 2 x 2 (or an approximate sized) dish with melted butter.  Make sure to brush the sides as well.  Place a sheet of Fillo on the bottom of the pan and brush it with butter then layer another piece and repeat with 10 layers of Fillo.  Layer one-third of the nut mixture on the Fillo then layer with 3-4 pieces of dough, buttering each layer.  Layer the next third of the nut mixture and repeat with another 3-4 pieces of Fillo.  On the very last layer add about 7-9 sheets of Fillo dough (butter each one well).  Brush top of the last Fillo dough with butter and cut into diamond shapes.  Place a clove bud into the center of each piece.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour, until golden brown.  While the Baklava is baking prepare syrup so it has time to cool by the time the Baklava comes out of the oven.

Syrup

2 3/4 cup water

2 cups Sugar

Boil slowly for 15 – 25 minutes then add 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice (this helps it NOT to form crystals) and 2 tablespoons of honey and let simmer an additional 10-15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Pour over hot Baklava and cover for 30 minutes with wax paper.  Uncover and let the Baklava set for 7 hours at room temperature before serving.  This ensures that all the syrup has soaked in without making the pastry soggy.  Serve at room temperature.  Try not to refrigerate this dish because it affects the texture and taste.  Makes about 36 diamond-shaped Baklavas.

Spinach Chicken Alfredo

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Spinach Chicken Alfredo

It’s Spring Break time.  My house is full of 8 hungry college students who arrived famished from a road trip.  I decided to use the Spinach Basil Pesto http://kolpona.com/2012/03/17/spinach-basil-pesto/ I just put together to come up with a pasta dish.  It turned out great if the empty plates were any indication.

Ingredients at a glance

 

Heat butter and olive oil together

Saute garlic to release the flavors

Add pesto to the mixture then add flour and stir to cook through.

Add milk and cream until mixture thickens.

Add cheese to sauce and let it melt

Add cooked chicken to the sauce

Add fresh Spinach leaves and take off the heat.

 

Add Pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately! Serves 6

 

Here’s the recipe:

Spinach Chicken Alfredo

16 oz of Fettuccine

3 whole cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

4 tablespoons of Spinach Basil Pesto (see recipe)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons of flour

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken cut into pieces

large handful of fresh Spinach leaves

1 pint of Heavy Cream

2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of Parmiaggiano Reggiano Cheese

1/2 cup of Mozzarella cheese

In a 5 quart pan boil water with 5- 6 tablespoons of salt (should be like sea water) and cook pasta for about 8 minutes.  In the mean time, in a large skillet heat olive oil and butter.  Add salt, fresh cracked pepper and minced garlic and sauté about a minute until garlic releases its fragrance.  Add spinach pesto and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add flour to the mixture and cook for about a minute to get the starchy flour smell out.  Slowly begin to add heavy cream and whole milk and stir until mixture begins to thicken.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.  When mixture has thickened nicely, add parmiaggiano Reggiano and mozzarella and stir until melted and incorporated into a smooth sauce.  Add chicken to the mixture.  Add in cooked pasta and toss.  Serve warm with fresh grated cheese on top.

Lemon Artichoke Shrimp Pasta

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Lemon Artichoke Shrimp Pasta

My friend Diane Hubbard told me that she was inspired to make Preserved Lemons  http://kolpona.com/2012/03/08/preserved-lemons/ and now she wanted more recipes that used Preserved Lemons besides North African or Middle Eastern dishes.  I took that as a challenge and decided that for tonight’s dinner I was going to make a dish with Preserved Lemons and anything else I had on hand in the kitchen, WITHOUT going to the grocery store.  It felt like a pasta kind of night.  A few minutes after cooking dinner, our friends Tasi and Soloa dropped by.

They ate all the pasta, Banana bread from this morning, Onion Dill bread from yesterday, Double Chocolate Chili cookies and took home some Lentil soup I’d made. I love feeding people who like to eat.  Let me tell you, when two big Samoans come over from the gym, they can eat some stuff.  So, Diane here’s a recipe inspired by you. Tasi and Soloa seem to think it’s pretty darn good and I think it’s a keeper.  By the way, it serves  a family of 6 or two hungry Samoans.

Ingredients at a glance.

Saute shrimp in olive oil with a little salt, garlic and ginger.  Take it out as soon it barely turns light pink.

In the remaining oil add tablespoon of butter.

Finished pasta dish.

Here’s the recipe:

Lemon Artichoke Shrimp Pasta

1 lb of pasta (Linguine, Spaghetti, Fettucine – I only had Spaghetti on hand so I used that, next time I think I will use Linguine)

8-10 Large Shrimp,  cleaned with tail on

3 whole garlic cloves minced

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tomato, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound young Asparagus, trimmed

4 oz jar of marinated Artichoke hearts

1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped

1 tsp Rosemary, chopped

1/4 cup chopped flat leafed Parsley

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled Feta

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

In a 5 quart stock pot boil water with 5 tablespoons of salt (should be like sea water salty) for the pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and saute shrimp, salt, garlic and ginger until the Shrimp turn into a light pink shade, about 1 minute or so.  Take Shrimp out of the pan and set aside.  In the same oil add tablespoon of butter.  Add chopped onion, preserved lemon and tomato along with Rosemary and fresh cracked pepper and saute 2-3 minutes until flavors are released and onions are translucent.  Add roughly chopped artichoke hearts and asparagus tips and the tender parts of the stem cut into 1 inch pieces and saute another 2-3 minutes.  Add the Shrimp back into the mixture and saute an additional minute or until the Shrimp is cooked through.  Toss in Feta Cheese and stir then add the pasta,  Parmigiano Reggiano and Parsley and toss to coat.  Take off heat and serve immediately.