Monday, January 21, 2008

A Mediterranean meal on a cold winter's night

Brrrr. Winter has arrived and it's sticking it's heels in deep. Our front yard is frozen solid and we're almost sure to see more snow tomorrow. On a night like this, I just want to escape to a friendlier climate. I don't have enough airline miles saved up yet, so I served up Mediterranean flavors for dinner instead. After a fun (and freezing) day hanging out downtown with my best buddy, I came home too late to consider dealing with the flank steak in the fridge. This is where a stocked pantry and fridge full of fresh veggies has it's benefits! I reached for Ellie Krieger's new book - I know, I know. I'm clearly obsessed with it. An hour later, our dinner plates looked gorgeous. Bright green spinach and chickpea salad with orange infused yogurt dressing. Roasted, carmelized honey sweet potatoes and a side of cooked bulgur. Here we go:

Chickpeas and Spinach Salad
with Cumin Dressing by Ellie Krieger

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

4 cups baby spinach leaves

Yogurt with Orange Essence, recipe below, optional

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, optional

In a medium bowl combine the chickpeas, parsley and onion. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves. Top with the yogurt sauce and a sprinkle of mint, if using.

Yogurt with Orange Essence by Ellie Krieger

1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon honey

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, orange zest, orange juice and honey.

  • The more I cook, the more comfortable I am substituting an ingredient that I have on hand for one that's called for in the recipe. Instead of red onion, I went with diced red pepper. A few years ago, I used to run out to the store if I didn't have something!
  • I used a fresh orange for the juice in the yogurt sauce and it was slightly bitter. I added more honey to balance the taste. This is a good example of letting loose and not always following the recipe directions to the letter (which I always used to do!) All oranges are not created equal, so one must sample and adjust.
  • After I mixed the yogurt with the spinach and the spinach with the chickpea mixture, I decided this dish would benefit from additional dressing. So, I used organic fresh squeezed orange juice, honey and yogurt in equal parts. It was really sweet, much sweeter than the dressing I used to coat the spinach. I thought it really enhanced the whole dish.
  • I didn't have any fresh mint available. But I will definitely get some next time. I think it would kick this up a notch.
Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes by Ellie Krieger

2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and put in a 9 by 13 baking dish. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender.

  • I really needed to switch gears from my "go to" roasted veggies recipe. I usually only use olive oil, salt and pepper. The honey and fresh lemon really bring out the natural flavor of the sweet potatoes. No one, not even your pickiest eater, will be able to resist this dish.

Basic Cooked Bulgur

2 cups of chicken broth

1 cup of bulgur (rinsed first)

Combine chicken broth and bulgur and bring to a quick boil. Decrease heat to a simmer and cover. Bulgur will be finished in 12-15 minutes. There might be excess broth. Drain and serve.

  • Bulgur seemed like the perfect grain to balance out this meal. In a way, this whole meal is a de-constructed tabbouleh salad.
  • My husband encouraged me to "mix it all together" on the plate. He felt the sum was better than the parts.
  • Superfood alert. Sweet Potatoes, nonfat plain yogurt, honey, spinach, oh my!


alison said...

Yum! Cant wait to try the chick peas. They are marvelous. thanks for the idea.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the special acknowledgement on this posting. ;)
my canned chickpeas never looked that good..i'll try it.

by the way, please check out my friend corinne's blog. i told her to look at yours! she's at she also highlights another interesting

Lavanya said...

nice recipes. i like chickpeas salad and sweet potato roast..for sure iam going to try those recipes..keep posting..

Riley & Dan's Mom said...

Hi, I found your blog a little while go and wanted to say thaks for the sweet potato recipe. I made it last night and my kids loved it! I'll be checking in again.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Mmmm those chickpeas look really tasty.