This pozole is such a flavorful soup that will satisfy all. Pozole verde is a green Mexican corn soup made with the plump and meaty white corn, known as hominy. The richly flavored broth is layered with the tang of tomatillos, the spice of cumin […]
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 […]
Egyptian massak’aa is easily one the tastiest dishes out there. In this version, sliced eggplants and peppers are lightly fried and then cooked in an irresistible tomato sauce simmering with garlic, onions, cumin, and vinegar. It’s really a simple dish to prepare with complex flavors that will have you mopping your plate spotless with your pita bread. Traditionally, massak’aa is made with ground beef between the layers of eggplant, but the beef can be omitted completely for a vegetarian version. I sub-in parboiled lentils to simmer away with the sauce, so that it is a hearty meal rich in antioxidants and satisfying protein. We love this vegan version and with the pandemic and shortage of beef, I think many of you will enjoy this flavorful option! My version becomes even easier because I make it all in one pan, skipping the deep frying step, but none of the flavor.
During the worldwide pandemic forcing us to stay home and having limited trips to the grocery store, I found myself stocking up on eggplants and peppers as they are among some of the vegetables that hold up quite well first being left outside until it is safe to bring into the home, and then even longer in the refrigerator crisper. Another eggplant favorite recipe that my kids enjoy is the maqlooba, a one pot dish of aromatic spiced rice layered with eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes, and some tomato. So YUM.
I like to use Asian eggplants because the skin is thinner and they have a milder flavor. You need about 3 Asian eggplants for this recipe, or 2 of the globe variety. Traditionally, Egyptians peel strips of the outer skin, which probably helps the eggplant cook down better, but I like to retain the nutrients as much as possible. I only cut off parts that appear like they need to go. I do strip off a few stripes if it is the fatter, globe eggplant, because the skin is thicker on those. The eggplant can carry a lot of water inside that can make them cook tough, and taste bitter. To remedy this, they need to be sprinkled with salt, which draws out all these bitter juices. They can then be blotted up of those juices before sautéing.
For peppers, you can use any combination of green, red, or yellow peppers. I always have all three types, as I love them all. When I cook Middle Eastern dishes I prefer the longer green cubanelle peppers, as they have a milder flavor that goes nicely with the dish. I throw in one jalapeño, sliced open in half so that it can slightly kick up the flavor of the sauce just a little bit, without making it unbearable for the kids in the house. You could definitely add in 2 more if you like more spice, and dicing it will allow the flavor to permeate throughout more of the dish.
Use a red pepper paste by roasting the red bell peppers, peel them, and puree with olive oil and a dash of cayenne. Or simply use a jar like Mina’s Red Pepper Harissa paste. This really adds dimension and flavor to the dish.
This is the perfect recipe to put your soft, overripe tomatoes to work in. I used about 4 really juicy tomatoes, quartered them, and just let them char and get golden before melting into a flavorful chunky tomato sauce. I then supplement 1.5 cups of tomato sauce when I am ready to let it all simmer together.
Cumin, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper are all the essential flavor agents here. The peppers and tomatoes sauté and sizzle in the pan until they char and develop some color, which releases incredible flavor to this dish. It all comes together once I pour on the tomato sauce all over everything and let them simmer away until they are amalgamated into one creamy and flavorful dish ready for the licking–with some pita bread of course!
You can use beef in this recipe, as is the classic Egyptian method. To do so, prepare the beef by cooking it first in a pot with a whole diced onion, some minced garlic, 1 tbsp of all spice, and some finely diced bell pepper. I do not include this step in my recipe because I always make it vegan. Instead, I throw in 1 cup of parboiled green lentils simmered with a teaspoon of cumin. I boil them for about 10 minutes just so they are halfway cooked so they can cook all the way through with the remainder of the massa’kaa pan.
Per Serving: Calories 188 kcal, Carbohydrates 28g, Protein 9.5g, Saturated Fat0.8g, Sodium 423 mg, Fiber 6g, Sugars 4g
- 3 medium eggplants, sliced in circles 1/2 inch thick 2 cups
- 1 green pepper, diced 1/2 cup
- 1 red or yellow onion, diced 1/2 cup
- 1/2 onion, sliced 1/2 cup
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 tomatoes, quartered 1-2 cups, based on preference
- 1.5 c crushed or strained tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp cumin, ground
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, washed
- Bring a pot of 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and allow to boil for about 10 minutes, until halfway cooked, but not completely. Drain completely. If you bite one, it should be soft on the outside but firm on the inside. It will continue to cook once added to the massak'a pan.
- Lay the sliced eggplant on a kitchen towel or paper towel and salt it so that the bitter water is drawn out. After about 10 minutes, blot them with a clean towel, brushing off as much salt as possible.
- In a large pan, at least 10" in diameter, add 2 tbsp of oil. Place the onions, peppers, and tomatoes, eggplants throughout and leave them for about 3 minutes to build some color and char. Check them to make sure they do not burn, and slowly turn them over once a golden color is achieved.
- Once all the vegetables have gained some golden color, sprinkle in the cumin, garlic slices, salt and pepper. Allow them to continue to build color. The tomatoes and onions will be all soft and releasing juices by now.
- Add the lentils on top of the sautéed vegetables, and gently fold them in.
- Pour the tomato sauce and vinegar all over the top, gently mix it all in, or simply leave it to cover the top. Cover the pan and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through. If you have an oven-safe pan you may also place this in the oven as the classic method bakes the combined layers in the oven at 350 degrees (f).
- Serve hot, or at room temperature, or even cold with pita bread. This is a dish eaten with pita bread sopping up all of the delicious flavors. Enjoy!
Loubiya has been one of my favorite meals of all time. These beans are so creamy and full of flavor, they really stand out from any other bean I have tried. This Egyptian black eyed pea stew is such a healthy and flavorful comfort dish. […]
Tikka Masala is easily one of the most delicious and creamy curries you can try. I love it so much I set out to make my own bulk chicken tikka masala recipe years ago, and it has consistently been a hit. Since we have switched […]
This lentil tabbouli salad is the perfect autumn spin off of the classic Middle Eastern salad famous for its delicious combination of parsley, mint, and wheat burgul soaked in lemon and olive oil. I substituted the traditional wheat bulgur grain for a gluten-free and protein rich option: lentils! Everyone in my family loves tabbouli, and for good reason. With its aromatic herbs of parsley and mint, juicy tomatoes and pomegranate, cool crunchy cucumbers, and the lemon dressing coating tender lentils, this salad is worth every effort it takes to prepare it. Tabbouli has always been my absolute FAVORITE salad. This version will definitely be a hit on your table and the leftovers will be great for the next day’s lunch.
Substituting the bulgur for other super food grains is a great way to change up the salad routine and introduce new flavors and foods into your diet. My kids LOVE tabbouli so I try to sneak in various ingredients like spinach or kale to get them to enjoy different foods. You could also check out my recipe for quinoa tabbouli which is very filling and tastes exactly the same as the original tabbouli, except it has more protein. Because I am making this salad in the fall, I include the beautiful pomegranates that are in season as they add a bright splash of color and juicy, tart flavor to this salad.
Preparing the ingredients
The love in making tabbouli starts with careful preparation and quality ingredients. Because the main base of the salad is the green parsley, get a good variety. I grow my own organic parsley at home, and it is VERY easy to do. Give it a try! Flat leaf parsley has the best texture, as curly parsley can be too dry and lacking in flavor. It takes some time to thoroughly wash all of the parsley leaves required to make this salad. I like to take the entire bunch of parsley and immerse it in a large bowl of cold water. I then rinse handfuls under running water and shake clean. You will be horrified at the amount of dirt that is sitting at the bottom of the bowl when you are done! It is well worth the careful washing here.
To get the leaves off the stems, I usually enlist the help of my kids. I give them a bowl for the stems to discard and they go right to town picking off all the leaves. An added bonus to this help, is that they alway get excited to eat what they make. Allowing them to help and feel like they made this meal is a bonus!
In a similar fashion, lay out the dry lentils on a large plate and pick them over for any debris, dirt, or bad legumes. Luckily, my kids also love doing this task. Let’s see until what age I can fool them into these tedious tasks!
Chopping the Salad
Making a great bowl of tabbouli consists of having a sharp knife and properly dicing all of your ingredients into cute little cubes. For the tomatoes, I cut off the top, where the stem is (and my girls or I eat the excess fruit around the stalk of course!). I then slice the tomato from top to bottom in round slices that are about 1/2 an inch thick. Then dice each slice into quarter inch squares.
For the cucumber, make two cuts all the way down the length of the cucumber in the center, stopping just before the end by about 4 inches, so as to not separate all the pieces yet. Then cut again across, and again, and again creating a lattice of slices. Then slice 1/4 inch rounds, and they will land on the chopping board in perfectly little squares according to the lattice of slices made. Do this with each cucumber. I usually just eat the base of the cucumber that wasn’t sliced. Its faster than slicing it manually 🙂
My trick to chopping enough parsley? I usually blitz it in my food processor, along with the mint leaves, and a clove of garlic. I just pulse it about 5 times and the leaves are perfectly chopped.
Once you have chopped all of your veggies, it is easy 😀 Drizzle the dressing all over the salad, toss, and sprinkle the top with the juicy gems of pomegranate kernels. Bil Hana wil Shifaa! (Egyptian phrase for: With happiness and healing!)
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced I usually find "English" cucumbers which is similar
- 2-3 Roma Tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 c scallions, diced
- 1/2 c pomegranate kernels
- 1 c green lentils
- 2 c Italian flat leaf parsley leaves, stems removed, and finely chopped
- 1/2 c fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
For the Dressing
- 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- In a pot over high- medium heat, lightly toast the lentils in 2 tbsp of oil. Do not add in any salt in this step.
- Add enough water to just cover the lentils by a centimeter. Wait for the pot to boil and reduce the heat to medium-low heat. Allow the lentils to cook until the water evaporates. Add a tsp of salt and mix in well. Allow to cool completely and refrigerate before adding to the salad.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and scallions.
- Create a crater in the center of the salad bowl and add in the cold lentils.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add all other dressing ingredients gradually as you continue to whisk.
- Drizzle the dressing all over the salad, toss, and sprinkle the top with the red gems of pomegranate kernels.
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 […]
This mango black bean salad is a delicious and refreshing side to add to any Southwest or Mexican themed meal. The sweet and juicy mangoes paired with the lime and cilantro add a burst of flavor to the black beans and corn. I also add peppers, red onions, and tomatoes to complete the dish and this is quite filling. Top it off with tortilla strips and enjoy with your favorite fish or chicken, or serve it up along with tacos or fajitas!
Add all the ingredients over a bed of greens. I like to use the spring greens mix. Use whatever you prefer. For the corn, the absolutel BEST way to do it, is to roast the corn on the grill or over a flame. Then slice the kernels off the cob. YUM! I can devour a whole bowl of this salad in one sitting. It is very filling!
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The easy dressing of lime, cumin, cayenne pepper and avocado oil couldn’t get any easier. I love eating this salad along side my mahi mahi.
- 1 mango, peeled and chopped into cubes
- 1-2 tomatoes diced
- 1/2 c diced poblano pepper
- 1/2 c sliced red bell pepper
- 1 c cooked and drained black beans
- 1/2 c diced red onion
- 1 c sweet corn
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
- 1/2 c lime juice
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp hot chili pepper or cayenne pepper
- 8 oz of lettuce, field greens, or spinach
- In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together.
- For extra flavor, roast corn on the cob on the barbecue or over a flame. Slice the corn kernels off the cob and add to the salad. This is my preferred method of preparing corn, which I do in the summer over a grill.
- Enjoy as a main dish, with burgers, chicken, fish, tacos, fajitas, or anything else!
- For variation try adding avocado, or tortilla strips on top.
If you have been following along, I have been preparing, eating, and posting a lot of salads lately. I am loving our shift to a more plant based diet, but I just cannot do leafy salads everyday! I need salads with texture, crunch, flavors, protein, […]