This pasta is everything: a hearty, creamy, cheesy, flavorful bowl of autumn comfort! Flavored with shallots, garlic, and thyme, the creamy and sweet butternut squash is pureed with a dash of cream into a rich velvety sauce. A sprinkling of pecorino romano cheese balances out […]
The weather outside is frightful….and soup sounds so delightful! These cold winter days are perfect for a steaming hot bowl of quinoa lentil soup. This tomato based soup is a hearty, filling, protein packed, and super flavorful meal that echoes the flavors of my famous […]
This salad has evolved from a number of delicious eats in my household. In recent years, I have discovered the incredible delicata squash, thanks to my friend Reem. I have been eagerly telling everyone about it since, and I have yet to find a person disappointed by this autumnal harvest wonder squash. It is the perfect fall squash and it is only available seasonally. So stock up everyone! The crispy edible skin and the creamy sweet squash make the perfect side dish. The best thing about this squash? You don’t need to peel it, and it is full of nutrients. It is high in vitamins C and A, potassium and fiber, and even provides calcium and iron!
I often serve it up as a snack for my family simply roasted crispy with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. In this salad, I use it to top a savory mixture of lentils on a bed of spinach along with some caramelized onions, garlic and cilantro, and juicy gems of pomegranate seeds. The topping is a fusion of flavors from the classic Egyptian Kushary, which is a lentil and pasta comfort food topped with caramelized onions and garlic in a vinegar sauce. The fried garlic and cilantro layered with pomegranate seeds is a delicious flavor fusion from a tasty Syrian dish that I LOVE, also made with lentils and pasta cooked in a savory pomegranate sauce called Haraa Asbaoo.
This salad is a colorful and festive dish I love to serve in large parties and it has always been a crowd pleaser. It is easy to make in large quantities and it plates beautifully. I hope you all enjoy it with your loved ones soon!
Delicata Squash Lentil Salad
- 2 delicata squash
- 1 red onion
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1/2 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate kernels
- 4 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 cups fresh green spinach
- Rinse the lentils and place in a pot with enough water to cover them completely, with no more than a cm of water above the lentils. For best results, check my post on cooking the perfect lentils.
- Stir in 1 tsp of cumin. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low until all the water evaporates. As the lentils cook, begin washing and prepping the squash as outlined below in step 4.
- Once all the water has evaporated and lentils are tender, stir in some salt gently with a fork. Remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool completely before adding to the salad.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). Thoroughly wash the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Cut off the bottom and cut off the top and scoop out all seeds. You may save the seeds to roast and eat later.
- Slice the length of the squash into half circles about 1.5 inches thick.
- Arrange the squash slices on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle half the oil, some salt, pepper to taste, and 1 tsp of cinnamon on the squash. Add the slices of red onion to the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the squash gains a golden color and some caramelization. Be careful not to scorch the onions. You may need to remove the onions earlier.
- In a small pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil and the crushed garlic. Stir frequently until fried golden, careful not to scorch it.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro to the garlic and toss until the cilantro wilts. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the dressing:
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of oil, the pomegranate molasses, lime juice, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste.
Assembling the salad
- Layer the baby spinach onto a large platter.
- Layer the lentils on top of the spinach and drizzle on the dressing. Toss gently until all lentils and spinach are coated.
- Sprinkle the fried garlic and cilantro mixture ontop of the lentils, evenly distributed.
- Sprinkle the pomegranate on top, laying it into a circular design or diagonal lines if you like.
- Arrange the roasted squash and onions on top and serve.
It has been a frequent complaint when we go out to eat at Middle Eastern restaurants: “they just don’t make falafel like they do back in Egypt.” We have tried countless places, and although it still may taste good, it doesn’t ever taste the same. Oh, […]
These savory sweet potatoes are a quick and easy side for any meal. I served them up along my Thanksgivng turkey this year, and they were a big hit! The sweet potatoes wedges are tossed in my special mix of sultry and savory spices, and roasted to a delicious crisp. The cinnamon I use is a high quality organic ceylon cinnamon powder; it has a aromatic scent of spicy cinnamon and tastes superior to others I have tried. Ceylon cinnamon is also cleaner and safer, contrary to the cheaper cassia cinnamon on most local grocery store shelves. Cassia cinnamon may have a toxin within it that may effect the health of children and adults if consumed frequently. Read more about this here.
I have to mention this major tip I learned only recently because it is incredibly useful: use an actual potato peeler. It works like magic. If you have ever tried to peel or cut into a sweet potato, you know how tough it can be. A $4 peeler is well worth it as the skin slides off like butter. Who would have thought? I also started leaving the skins on, as long as its a clean organic potato, there really is no need to remove it.
I combine cinnamon with savory onion powder, white pepper, salt, and black pepper which perfectly balances the sweet and spicy flavors of the cinnamon and the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are an ultra healthy root vegetable, with a high content in carotenoids (vitamin A), a wealth of antioxidants, and other nutrients that reduce blood sugar levels. Additionally, the absorption of the nutrients is improved when sweet potatoes are consumed with a healthy amount of fat, such as olive oil.
So eaten in moderation, this side dish is an excellent carbohydrate to add to your meals or snack repertoire and feel great about. Just be sure to use organic sweet potatoes if possible because as a root vegetable that grows deep in the ground, it would absorb a high concentration of toxins and chemicals from the soil, if it isn’t organic!
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It is mandatory to roast these orange gems on a large flat dish; the more surface area, the better. You will get more of that roasted, browned, and slightly charred flavor. When the potatoes are layered upon each other, you will have less of that desirable crunchy and charred texture and more that is softened. Rest assured, either way it is delicious, but I would say that the crunchy, slightly charred and crispy pieces are everyone’s favorite part!
- 3-4 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Preheat the oven to 400 degree fahrenheit.
- With a large knife, slice the potatoes into 1 inch cubes, or wedges that are about 3/4 inch wide. The thicker the potato chunks, the longer it will take to cook and get crunchy. So this size is about perfect. If it is too small or thin, it will burn and get dry.
- Mix the olive oil and all the spices in a bowl.
- Toss the chopped potatoes in the bowl until well coated. Add extra oil if necessary.
- Spread the potatoes evenly on a large, flat pan, avoiding any overlapping.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and golden.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and remove from pan with a large spatula.
- Serve this along with your favorite steak, chicken, fish, or just as a delicious and healthy snack!
This dish is easily a favorite for all in our family, a comfort food that triggers nostalgia, and a delicious and easy recipe to include in every kitchen! The chicken is juicy and tender, with a crunchy and flavorful outer crust. Chicken pane is classic Egyptian […]
Do you know about this super food? This dish is a classic favorite for Egyptians and is prepared in its uniquely flavored broth and usually served over rice, or with pita bread. Its savory, garlicky flavor is an instant hit and its slipper texture makes it […]
Cooking with lentils adds so much versatility to your diet and menu. There are many benefits to using lentils in your repertoire, mainly being that they are a nutrient rich legume full of protein and low in calories. Since I started cutting back on the carbs I consume and trying to replace rice in most dishes and entrees, I have turned to lentils quite a bit. And you will not really feel the loss because lentils offer such hearty and satisfying meals. There are endless recipes, but this is one basic one I love to use as substitute for rice or pasta sides. It pairs well with chicken, meat, seafood, and even as a filling meal on its own. Lentils are a fiber all-star, providing both soluble and insoluble. This means they are a great source for cleaning out your intestinal tract, improving digestion, and relieving constipation and other irritable bowel syndromes. They are also heart healthy legumes, rich in magnesium and folate which helps keep your arteries clear and improve the flow of oxygen throughout your body. These high fiber seeds are also excellent sources of slow-burning carbohydrates to provide you with long lasting energy. Because of this they are also excellent blood sugar stabilizers, so diabetic or pre-diabetic people will benefit greatly from consuming lentils in lieu of pasta or rice. Lentils are also high in iron which will improve energy levels, and coming without the fat, cholesterol, and high calories of red meat lentils make for a perfect meat substitute as well.
Well, I hope you are now convinced to eat a bowl of lentils every once in a while.
So here is my basic lentil pilaf. You can use a variety of root vegetables to add depth and flavor but onions are definitely always in the mix here. A tablespoon of garlic always tops that off. I like to add chopped fennel or celery if I have some and a few diced carrots. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper and simmer in either broth or water. Throw in a cup of fresh spinach at the top of your pot at the very end of cooking to add some extra greens, iron, and plenty of beneficial phytonutrients. I love spinach and lentils. Yum!
French lentils are a hardier, green lentil that holds its texture and shape better when cooked. So, if you are new to lentils which can get smushy if you do not cook it right, start with green lentils. You can boil them just like pasta, strain them, then toss with your sautéed vegetables.
Brown lentils are more typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine to make kushary, mjadra, and other dishes. These can get a little too soft if you do not watch the pot. They cook similarly to rice. 1 cup of lentils cooks in about 3.5 cups of water. The key is to let it boil for about 10-15 minutes first to get the cooking going, then turn it down to low.
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You should sort (for dirt or bad pieces) and wash the lentils well.
Sautee chopped onion, minced garlic, and add cumin and salt. When softened, add the lentils, water and simmer until cooked. If using green lentils which cook faster and keep their shape well, simply boil in water with half an onion then strain. Add the strained, cooked lentils to sautéed onions, carrots, and other vegetables.
Lentils are the perfect side to salmon! One of our favorite meals!
- 1 c brown lentils
- 4 c water (or 2 c water and 2 cups broth)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- pinch of pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 c chopped carrots
- 1/2 c chopped fennel or celery (optional)
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil over high heat and add the spices.
- Add the lentils and water.
- Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Boil for about 10-15 minutes until the liquid is at level with the lentils.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.
- In a separate pan, sauté the remaining vegetables until tender. Toss with the cooked lentils and serve.
- The other vegetables are not cooked in the same pot as lentils because of the long cook time lentils require. The vegetables will get overcooked and too soft if you do this.
- Another option would be to boil green lentils for about 15 minutes in water with half an onion. Strain and toss the cooked green lentils in a pan with the sautéed vegetables.
- Add fresh spinach to the pot at the very end of cook time to steam for about 1 minute.
Here is another one of my absolute favorite Middle Eastern dishes. “Mahshy” literally means stuffed, and I love all things mashy. Stuffed vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, and stuffed cabbage are all fantastic dishes in the Middle Eastern kitchen. Parsley and mint are prevalent in most […]