I love having a box of fresh veggies, many things that I don’t ordinarily get, then trying things out with them. Sometimes combinations surprise me! – like this Stir Fry of chopped onion, Bok choy stems, salad radishes (that’s the Julienne veggie) and Bok choy greens, added last. Add a bit of salt, a few drops of soy sauce if you wish, and oh, my, was it good!
Here’s a note about how I stir fry: I cut all the veggies first. I heat some extra virgin olive oil in a wok and often throw in a little minced garlic first. This time, I don’t believe I did. Then I add the onions, sauteeing until soft. Then I add the remaining “hard” veggies, most “hard” first, sauteeing for a few moments after each — reserving any greens. When the veggies start to brown a bit, I add a little salt and soy sauce, stir and cover if needed to steam the veggies for a couple of minutes. Uncover and add the greens, stir together and sauté briefly until the greens are wilted, adjust seasoning, and serve.
I also made Fatoush with what I had on hand instead of the usual, and it, too, was delicious with a creamy vegan dressing:
Mixed greens, any you have on hand or like. Bok choy and Butterhead Lettuce featured heavily in this one.
Red cabbage (I usually use it but don’t see it here – must have forgotten)
Tomatoes – organic grape tomatoes, quartered
Radishes – organic, Julienne
Cucumbers – organic, sliced and quartered or Julienne
Pita – Whole wheat Lebanese pita, cut into squares and toasted
Sumac to sprinkle
Ingredients for Sauce
Mayonnaise, 1 cup (I use Hampton Creek Just Mayo – vegan)
Tahina, 1/4 cup
Garlic, 1/2 – 1 clove mashed (opt.)
Salt, 1-2 tsp. (start with 1 tsp. for dressing, add additional to salad after mixed)
Hot paprika, 1/4 tsp.
Lemon, freshly squeezed, 1/4-1/2 cup, to taste (start with 1/4 cup for dressing, add additional to salad after mixed)
Prepare salad ingredients: slice greens 1/8-1/4″, then cut across into 2-3″ pieces. Quarter grape tomatoes or petite dice plum tomatoes. Julienne cucumbers and radishes.
Stack the pita pieces, cut through them lattice-work style so you end up with 1-2″ squares, roast in a 200 degree oven until crunchy, cool thoroughly and set aside or bag for later use. I like to use whole wheat Lebanese pita, available through a local Arab bakery. Lebanese pita is larger than pocket pita and thinner. Makes a great “crouton.” Stored properly, they keep for a long time once toasted and thoroughly dry.
Make the dressing. For a vegan salad, use a vegan mayo. Your dressing should taste salty and lemony because by the time you add it to the salad with its moisture, it will lose some potency. I start a bit lighter on the seasoning, then add the remainder if needed when the salad is made up. You don’t need to use all the dressing at once — if you have leftover, just store in a covered jar.
Put all salad ingredients into a bowl. Add toasted pita so you have 2 parts salad to 1 part pita. Add some dressing and a pinch or two of sumac (available in Middle Eastern stores and online), and mix gently but completely. Add more or less dressing to your liking.
Sprinkle additional sumac over the salad and serve.
Many of you are probably getting underway with your summer gardening plans. Be sure your plan includes things you can pickle!
Fermented foods are great for you. And there’s one quick and easy way to make certain you have some delicious fermented products with every meal: pickles.
Pickles and olives are part of every meal in the Middle East. When they’re this easy to make, why would you ever get canned? Better yet, when you make your own, you can season them exactly as you’d like.
For the batch of pickles you see pictured here, I used Persian cucumbers, the small, thin, denser variety I can often find in my neighborhood. Regular pickles will work just as well. In fact, you can pickle almost any firm veggies in this way.
A couple of my favorites are cauliflower with red cabbage – or turnips with a beet. Sometimes I throw carrots in with my regular pickles for the color, and the carrots pickle nicely as well. Pieces of red bell pepper or colorful whole mini-peppers work the same way.
One more word about the pickles you see in the picture: I love spicy things. Not everyone does in my world. That’s why I made two jars of pickles to have in the ‘fridge: one has hot peppers in it and the other doesn’t.
For the hot peppers, habanero work perfectly to spice up the whole batch. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any so am trying red “finger hot” peppers. They weren’t hot enough for me last time, but I thought I might give them another chance.
Pickles, 8-10 large, green & firm Persian pickles (or any other firm veggie in about the same amount)
Garlic, lots – about 8-10 large cloves
Dill, lots – a good-sized bunch
Hot pepper/s – to taste (I prefer habanero and would use 2 or 3 for this size batch)
Water, 4 cups
Vinegar, 1 cup
Kosher salt, 3 TB
Use clear, clean glass containers for your pickles. I prefer a glass lid as well so I can re-use it. The metals lids require too much care. Be sure your containers have a wide mouth.
The glass container I used for these pickles was a 2 quart container. That means you might need a recipe and a half of the brine per two quart container.
Clean all veggies — those you are pickling as well as the dill and peppers.
Put plenty of fresh dill in the bottom of the container along with garlic slices. Add veggies, layering if appropriate, fitting in more dill and garlic slices wherever you can.
Top off with more dill and garlic.
Pour brine over the contents in the jar until it reaches the top of the jar. Be certain everything is completely submerged.
Close the lid and place in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.
These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 months. I have had them as long as six months. They still seemed fine, but I thought it best to make a new batch. Usually they don’t last more than a couple of weeks in my house.
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