Sunday, August 26, 2012

Roasted Garlic Hummus

This is a variation on our Classic Hummus recipe, and uses roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic. Roasting the garlic sweetens it, making it much milder and deeper tasting than fresh garlic.

Serve with Grilled Pita Wedges, pita chips, and/or fresh veggies for dipping.


2 or 3 cloves roasted garlic – plus additional cloves for garnish, as desired
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained, reserving the chickpea liquid
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor, including the 3 or 4 garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon of the chickpea liquid. Puree until fairly smooth. If too thick, add more chickpea liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled.

-- 8 appetizer servings

Saturday, August 25, 2012

White Wine Spritzer

White wine spritzers originated in Austria, not in the Mediterranean region. However, most Mediterranean countries now have their own variations of the spritzer.

For this basic version, I like to use a white wine from the Mediterranean region, like an oaky Chardonnay or a crisp Pinot Grigio.

This simple wine cocktail is easy to make, and so refreshing on a hot summer day - or anytime! And it is a wonderful complement to many light Mediterranean foods.


Ice (enough to fill glass)
White wine, chilled
Club soda or seltzer, chilled
Lemon or lime wedge or twist (for garnish)

Fill a large wine glass with ice.

Pour the wine into the glass, until the glass is 2/3 full.

Top with the club soda until the glass is full.

Garnish with the lemon or lime.

-- 1 serving

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mock Chicken with Mushrooms and Red Bell Pepper in Sherry Broth

In this recipe, mock chicken is sauteed with mushrooms and red bell pepper strips, and enhanced with a light but flavorful sherry broth.

For the photo above, I used Gardein Chick'n Scallopini, which is now available at more and more supermarkets around the U.S. This recipe also works well with Gardein Chick'n Filets, Morningstar Farms Grillers Chik'n Veggie Patties, or Lightlife Smart Cutlets.

Vegans should be careful to choose a mock chicken product that is certified vegan, as some brands contain egg or dairy products.


1/4 cup unbleached flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 vegetarian "chicken" breast portions (unbreaded), thawed if frozen
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 of a small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into julienne slices
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/3 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup vegetable broth

In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.

Toss the “chicken” portions in the seasoned flour.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the "chicken" and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the "chicken" from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet, along with the mushrooms, bell pepper slices, paprika, and tarragon. Saute over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are lightly golden.

Return the “chicken” to the skillet, and add the sherry and broth. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Simmer over medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.

-- 2 servings

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Caprese Salad

This simple but delicious tomato-basil-mozzarella salad tastes like summer. I like to serve it frequently when fresh tomatoes and basil are in season.

Traditionally, this salad is drizzled only with some extra virgin olive oil, not vinegar. But I like to add some balsamic vinegar for extra flavor, so I list it here as optional.


2 or 3 medium-to-large fresh tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 to 12 fresh basil leaves (or more as needed)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Alternate the tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter, overlapping, with a basil leaf between each of the slices.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and then drizzle lightly with the olive oil and the vinegar (if using).

-- 3-6 servings

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Angel Hair Pasta with Red Bell Pepper and Pine Nuts in Basil-Wine Sauce

This easy pasta dish is delicate yet satisfying.

Don't cut the bell pepper slices too thick. We want them to complement, not dominate, the thin strands of angel hair.


2 tablespoons pine nuts
8 ounces dried angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin julienne slices
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (plus more as needed)
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, shredded or coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low to medium-low heat for few minutes until lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the red bell pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, and saute for a minute or two until fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn.

Add the wine, along with the pasta. Toss to combine.

Add the basil and the toasted pine nuts, along with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss lightly over medium to medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes to blend all the flavors.

If the mixture seems too dry, add more white wine, a tablespoon at a time, and heat through.

-- 3-4 servings