Posts Tagged ‘Yogurt’

I’ve been on a mission to cook more vegetarian dinners.  Or at least, vegetarian dinners that aren’t just pasta, pizza, and risotto.

I bookmarked this recipe for Sweet Potato Falafels on the fabulous site, 101 Cookbooks, ages ago and finally got around to making it.  That blogger obtained special permission from the publisher, so I’m going to refrain from posting it here.   If you are curious, you can get the recipe here.   I did follow her suggestion of brushing the falafels with a bit of an egg wash before baking them, and it did help give them a nice, shiny falafelly look to them.  


The recipe was really, really good.  When I make them again, I’ll bake the potatoes the night before and let them cool so they’ll be a very quick weeknight dinner. 

I never would have thought it possible to make dinner for four out of just two large sweet potatoes and some flour, but it is.  They are surprisingly filling and super healthy. 

To serve them, I made a quick yogurt sauce with 1 cup of low fat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of tahini, the juice of half a lemon, some lemon zest, and a generous pinch of salt.  Whisk all that together, add a splash more lemon juice or water if it’s too thick, and you are good to go.

The salad is simply arugula, thinly sliced radish, and pomegranate seeds, dressed with a lemon-olive oil vinagrette. 


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On Thursday, my husband finished his first year of business school.  This meant several days of celebrating…parties, Thai food at a fabulous neighborhood restaurant, a trip to the wonderful winery Jessup Cellars, and delicious Greek food at the Oakland Greek Festival.  Yes, we really did all this in three days.  So, when Sunday night came, I was tired, full, and ready to embrace nutrition once again.

We had some chard from our last CSA box, so I made this salad from the July 2004 issue of Food & Wine.  This is a fantastic way to prepare chard.  You can serve it warm or cold, and the yogurt-tahini dressing is delicious.  I think next time, I may add a can of chickpeas to it to make it a nice vegetarian main course.

Swiss Chard Salad with Garlicky Yogurt


1 medium red bell pepper
2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves only, finely chopped
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

I changed a few things.  First, I used jarred roasted red peppers from Trader Joes.  Their peppers are both yellow and red, which made the salad extra colorful.  I used Greek yogurt instead of regular plain, and I only used about half the recommended tahini because it just seemed like a lot.  My suggestion would be to add the tahini in slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the flavor you want.

Finally, instead of red pepper, I used Aleppo pepper.  While in Napa on Saturday, we swung by Oxbow Market and I bought some at the spice counter there and I was itching to try it out.  Aleppo pepper is essentially sun-dried peppers from Syria, ground up into tiny flakes. 


 It’s got a wonderful, spicy, smoky taste.  To approximate the flavor, you can mix 3 parts smoked paprika with 1 part cumin, though you won’t get the interesting, oily texture of the dried peppers.  If you add a bit of water to it, the peppers reconstitute somewhat and make a thin paste.


If you aren’t using jarred peppers, roast the red bell pepper directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, turning as needed, until charred all over. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel and seed the pepper, then cut it into 1/4-inch dice.

Put the Swiss chard in a large colander set in the sink. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the chard and toss it through the chard, rubbing it in.   Let stand for 1 minute, then rinse the chard, and squeeze dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add 2 of the minced garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the Swiss chard and cook, stirring, until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add the roasted red pepper and cook for 1 minute.  If you want to serve cold, transfer the vegetables to a platter and spread them in an even layer until they cool.  Otherwise, serve them up right out of the pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the tahini, lemon juice, and the remaining 3 minced garlic cloves.  Season with salt.  Spoon the yogurt sauce over the Swiss chard.

If you are using the pepper flakes, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet.  Add the crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat until the pepper begins to sizzle, about 10 seconds.  Pour the pepper oil over the yogurt sauce.  If you have Aleppo pepper, mix one teaspoon of the pepper with two teaspoons of water.  Let it sit for a few minutes, then spoon it over the yogurt sauce.

I didn’t have any parsley, but if you do, sprinkle some on just before serving.


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At the farmers market on Saturday, a vendor was selling fresh chamomile.  I had no idea what a person does with fresh chamomile, but it was a $1.50, smelled good, and looked pretty.  I figured at the very least, $1.50 was a small price to pay for something that would look cute on my windowsill for a few days.

I had some time though so I wanted to find something to do with it.  There are a handful of recipes floating around on the internets for chamomile.  Nothing really struck my fancy, so I searched for lavender recipes, thinking that the two would be somewhat interchangeable.

Since I also had a huge bag of strawberries, this recipe for strawberries with lavender syrup on Epicurious intrigued me.  I had to change it up to use things that I actually had in my fridge and because I wanted a cold, not warm, dessert.  I was really pleased with the finished product.  The chamomile adds this wonderfully sweet, floral taste to the syrup and it makes for a nice light, fresh spring dessert.  The original recipe recommends serving it with sour cream or creme fraiche, but I had greek yogurt on hand, which worked really well and made it much healthier.  It would probably be nice over vanilla ice cream as well.

Strawberries with Chamomile Syrup and Lemon Sugar


1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
20 fresh chamomile flowers
1-2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced

Greek yogurt, creme fraiche, ice cream, or sour cream to serve.

Mash 1/3 cup sugar and lemon peel in small bowl to blend well. 

Bring 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, honey, and chamomile to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chamomile flavor is pronounced, about 3 minutes.  Let the syrup cool and strain.  Pour the syrup over the sliced strawberries.

I let the syrup sit for about an hour to macerate the berries a bit in it.  With one pint of strawberries, the mixture is quite syrupy so feel free to add more if you’d like a thicker sauce.

Scoop about a half cup or so of Greek yogurt (or whatever creamy thing you are using) into bowls and spoon a couple spoonfuls of strawberries and syrup over the yogurt.  Sprinkle a bit of lemon sugar on each bowl and serve.


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When I lived in Washington, there was this local chain, Lebanese Taverna, that had this one amazing dish…consisting of either chicken, lamb, or eggplant, served with yogurt, chickpeas, pomegranates, and tons of garlic. It was to die for.

There is no Lebanese Taverna in Berkeley, and I had a craving. Through the magic of the internets, I was able to hunt down a recipe for this dish. The recipe I used was posted by a poster on the Chowhound boards. I improvised a little, so I’ll try to describe it the way I did it. And while I used a whole chicken as the recipe suggested, next time I will just use boneless chicken pieces, which will make preparing this a lot easier. Or perhaps I’ll try lamb or a vegetarian version with eggplant.
While not exactly like Lebanese Taverna’s, this version was still really, really good. I’ll definitely make this again.
Fatteh Bel Djaje
For chicken and broth:
1 chicken, quartered (or 2-2.5 pounds or so of boneless chicken pieces)
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters (I used half an orange)
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tb salt
2 cups water (I needed a little more water to cover everything in the pot)
1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 large can chickpeas
For serving
1 quart plain yogurt (i use labneh or the thick greek yogurt, they work best)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup mints leaves, torn
1 cup pine nuts
3 Tb butter
2 pita breads cut into 1 inch squares
1/2 a pomegranate (if available)
Rice or couscous, for serving, if you want.
First, mix the yogurt with garlic and a pinch of salt and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. I’d keep it out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Brown the chicken in a large large dutch oven or stockpot. Add lemon or orange, ground cinnamon, salt, water, onion with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. If you are using boneless chicken in small chunks, you can probably just leave it on the stove to to simmer. If you are using bigger pieces with the bone in, bring the water to a boil and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth. Let it cool if you need to debone it. Strain and skim broth, pour over chickpeas and cook for 15-20 minutes. I reserved a little bit of broth and poured it back over the deboned chicken, covered it, and simmered on very low heat to keep it warm.
Cook the rice or couscous, if you are using it. (I used basmati rice, which works well with this.)
Fry pine nuts in 1 tb butter until brown.
Set them aside and fry the pita cubes in remaining butter until crisp.
To serve
Put rice or couscous in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of broth, and the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle the pine nuts, pita, mint, and pomegranate on top.
And convince people that despite the odd ingredient list, it is actually an incredibly delicious meal. The pomegranate seeds add sweetness, the pine nuts and pita are crunchy, the mint makes it fresh and bright, and all of them compliment the spicy chicken and garlicky yogurt beautifully.

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Curry dishes have always frightened me for some reason. The strange spices and herbs, a fear of making them too spicy or not spicy enough, and the fact that they tend to involve a large number of ingredients.

This recipe from Food and Wine, however, seemed simple enough. As it turned out, I had to make some changes as I went along to it to get it to work, but it all worked out deliciously.

1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 pound tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 ear)

1/4 cup Greek-style plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

My changes

The recipe called for what seemed to be a lot of oil, so I used about 2 tablespoons, and that was fine. I used 6 bone-in chicken thighs, with the skin, and the skin may have added extra fat that was lost when I cut out the oil, so if you go with skinless, you might need more oil.

I skipped the corn and instead, added a very finely minced green bell pepper. My farm share brought peppers and not corn this week, and this seemed like a good place to use it. What this meant was, that the final dish was quite spicy. So, I had to add about a tablespoon or so of brown sugar into the dish towards the end as it was simmering.

Finally, 1/4 cup of yogurt is not a lot at all. I wanted a lot of sauce to pour over rice. So I used about 3/4 cup, and doubled the amount of curry.

The resulting dish was still very spicy, but very good. I recommend just adding the spices and sugar slowly, tasting as you go. Well, don’t taste too soon or you’ll find yourself with a nice bout of salmonella, but you know what I mean.


In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour, tapping off the excess. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the ginger, garlic, chile and bell pepper to the skillet and cook over high heat until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, yogurt and water; stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the chicken is tender and the juices are slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with cilantro and serve.

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