A dressed up tabouli made with protein rich quinoa instead of the traditional Bulgar wheat makes a delicious low-carb summer meal. I based my recipe on Mollie Katzen’s Bulgar wheat one in the classic moosewood cookbook and added lots of extras like artichoke hearts, pine nuts and feta cheese.
Make the quinoa ahead of time and stir in the olive oil and lemon. Then refrigerate until cold. I used a food processor to mince the green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts. I learned the hard way not to use it for the cucumbers or red peppers (it got mushy) Just take out the sharp knife and chop chop!
Makes 10 cups
1 cup dry quinoa. You can use white or red
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large or 2 medium lemons)
3 Tb high quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb garlic infused olive oil
1 bunch parsley -approximately 4 cups leaves makes 1 cup minced leaves
4 scallions, both white and green parts
3 sprigs fresh mint leaves (about 15 leaves)
3 medium tomatoes. I used dry-farmed tomatoes for outstanding flavor
1 red bell pepper
3 pickling cucumbers, peeled and seeds removed
14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and rinsed
15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Rinse quinoa well under cold water, rubbing the seeds between your hands. Drain quinoa for a few minutes, then add water and salt and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes. It will make 3 cups cooked quinoa. You can also make it in a rice cooker using the white rice setting.
Transfer quinoa to a large bowl or container. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oils in a small bowl, then stir into the quinoa. Let it cool and refrigerate until cold.
Using the blade in the food processor, mince green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts until feathery. Stir into cooled quinoa.
Dice red bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado and stir into quinoa along with garbanzo beans.
Serve cold, sprinkled with feta cheese and pine nuts.
Cucumber and mint make a refreshing combination, and when added to yogurt with a little salt, it’s the perfect drink for a hot day. This is popular to drink in Afghanistan alongside kabobs. Iranian doogh is made with seltzer and mint. Most recipes I’ve seen call for full-fat yogurt, but I prefer nonfat. I made mine in a blender with ice water with a few small ice cubes. I used Europeans-style yogurt (Strauss brand) which has a loose consistency. If you use a thick yogurt, you may want to add more water. Serve ice cold. I like to crunch on salty pita chips on the side.
2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
1 1/2 cup ice water
6 leaves fresh mint
1 inch slice of cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Run on highest setting for a minute. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.
Now that summer is officially here and we finally had a nice hot summer’s day, it’s time to make Vietamese style Summer Rolls. They are sometimes called Spring Rolls, although the Spring Rolls are often fried. Summer rolls are made with fresh, raw vegetables, with or without boiled shrimp. Gỏi Cuốn translates literally as salad rolls, which is pretty much what they are: a shrimp salad in a roll. I’ve always loved these for their burst of flavor from the fresh herbs inside heightened by the sweet spiciness of Hoisin (WHO-zjen) sauce and sweet chili sauce.
Many thanks to chefs Cindy Hay (pictured above), Wyn Ha and Jenny Inpraseuth; my Southeast Asian colleagues who cheerfully and patiently taught me to make these.
Asian ingredients are available at most Asian markets and Berkeley Bowl
You can make these Vegetarian/ Vegan with just salad ingredients or add fried tofu.
About 2 cups of medium shrimp. If you buy shrimp in their shells, they make a lovely broth.
3 cups water
1 slice of fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic (use two when making tofu rolls)
1 tsp salt
A slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container
Peanut-Hoisin dipping Sauce
Cindy told me that the sauce needs to have sweet, sour and salty flavors:
1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth. If making vegetarian, boil water with sliced garlic and ginger and 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons bottled Hoisin sauce (tương ăn phở)
2 Tb plus 1 tsp salted peanut butter (either smooth or crunchy)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 tsp Siracha sauce or chili garlic paste (add more if you like it spicier)
juice from 1/2 lime
1 Tb chopped peanuts
1 package rice paper rounds (bánh tráng)
1 round cake pan or pie pan with warm water
You can vary the salad ingredients, but always include mint, cilantro and basil leaves and rice noodles.
Rice vermicelli noodles (rice sticks) size medium Bún Giang Tây.
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup mint leaves
1/3 cup Thai basil (you can substitute regular basil if you can’t find the more aromatic Thai basil)
4 – 6 green leaf leaves lettuce. Use the upper part of the leaves.
1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and cut in thirds
1 large peeled carrot
2 Persian cucumbers (no need to peel) or 1 peeled pickling cucumber
1/4 peeled small jicama
1/4 red bell pepper
about 6 smap peas, julieened
6 chives, chopped in thirds or 1 scallion, green parts only, sliced thinly and chopped 4 inches long.
You can make the shrimp and Hoisin dipping sauce ahead of time.
Defrost shrimp overnight, or in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. While shrimp is defrosting, fill a small pot with 2 cups water and add 1 tsp of salt, ginger and garlic, and bring to a boil. Bring shrimp to boil, then boil over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp in a sieve over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Cool shrimp until you are able to handle them. Peel the shrimp and cut in half crosswise (so that each half has the shrimp shape).
Pour the liquid back into the pot. Return the shells, garlic and ginger into the reserved liquid. Boil uncovered for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Pour over a sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Use firm or extra firm tofu. Cut about a slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container. Wrap it in a clean dish towel.
Place it on a cutting board, then place another cutting board on top. Weigh the top board down with a heavy frying pan with several bags of rice inside.
After about 10 minutes, remove the tofu and unwrap it. Cut it into slabs, then halve them crosswise.
Heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a small frying pan and fry tofu. Use tongs to flip them.
Let fried tofu drain on paper towels. Paint on one side with the peanut sauce:
Hoisin peanut dipping sauce:
Stir 1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth with Hoisin sauce, coconut milk, peanut butter, and siracha in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Stir in lime juice. Pour into a ramiken or small serving bowl. Top with crushed peanuts.
If making vegetarian rolls, use water boiled for 15 minutes with 1/4 tsp salt, a slice of ginger and 2 cloves garlic instead of shrimp broth.
Prepare the noodles:
Boil 12 cups water in a a saucepan. Use about 31/2 oz rice vermicelli noodles, also called rice sticks Bún Giang Tây (about 1/4 of a 14 oz package). Be sure they are size medium, not the very thin vermicelli.
Cook the noodles, uncovered, for 5 minutes in boiling water, stirring occasionally.
Cool them by rinsing them in a sieve under cold water for 2 minutes. Stir and separate the noodles with a fork or chopstick so that they don’t clump up. Let them drain over a bowl.
I use a special Asian vegetable shaver with a zigzag blade called a Kiwi Pro Slice Peeler to shave thin slices of carrots, cucumber and jicama. Rotate the vegetable as you shave it. Discard (or snack on) the cucumber core that has the seeds.
Cut the vegetables very thin and small, Cut the bean sprouts in thirds so they don’t poke through the thin rice wrapper.
Summer rolls are not too hard to make, but the trick is in rolling the sticky rice paper. It comes in a hard, almost plastic-like wafer.
I couldn’t believe it was the same thing as the soft wrapper. Magically it transforms when dipped in warm water. It softens and becomes thinner and pliable. If you dip it flat, it wants to curl up.
The trick is to hold it by the edges and rotate it through the water, then give it a quick dip in the water to wet the middle. The whole process should take about 5 seconds. If it stays too long in the water it will become too thin and tear easily, and stick to itself. If it’s too stiff the wrapper will be too chewy. It will soften on the plate as you add the veggies so that it will be thin and flexible.
Place the rice paper on a damp plate. It will soften within seconds.Put a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon of noodles first to add a cushion for the vegetables.
Then add a few vegetables, and a few mint, basil and cilantro leaves. Avoid over-stuffing the roll. I got excited by all the wonderful ingredients and wanted to add it all in as much as possible. My rolls became bulky and torn. Moderation in all things I remind myself.
Roll wrapper halfway, and then fold left and right sides over the filling. Lay 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, with a few basil, cilantro and mint leaves along the edge of the cylinder.
If using tofu, place three pieces, sauce side down with the herbs
Finish rolling up the summer roll. Cut it in half crosswise to look prettier.
Dip your summer roll in Hoisin Peanut Sauce or sweet chili sauce.
These Greek spinach and cheese pies have a complex taste: sharp bite of feta, green spinach, explosion of herbs: mint, dill, oregano, basil, garlic, and green onion, wrapped in a crispy filo dough or buttery puff pastry. My recipe was inspired by my Greek-American friend Margret’s delicious version.
You can make these traditionally with flaky phyllo (filo) dough. I use olive oil spray on the phyllo instead of spreading oil or butter with a pastry brush, to cut down on the fat. I also make tiropetes, which are phyllo filled with feta and ricotta cheese. They are great for breakfast.
On the other end of the calorie range, I recently tried these at a Greek restaurant made from puff pastry. They were rich and delicious! So I made them at home. It’s much less fuss than phyllo, although it has quite a few more fat and calories from the buttery pastry.
Makes 3 logs (about 18 triangles) of phyllo wrapped spanakopita or 8 triangles of puff pastry spanakopita
3/4 package defrosted phyllo dough OR 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry (defrost for only 10 minutes at room temperature)
Olive oil spray for phyllo dough
Spinach filling: You can make this a day ahead of time.
2 heads fresh spinach, well washed, stems removed and chopped (use a food processor to chop it) OR 1 lb bag of frozen chopped spinach – about 3 cups.
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
1 Tb finely chopped mint leaves OR 1 tsp dried mint
½ Tb finely chopped fresh dill weed OR ½ tsp dried dill weed
1 Tb finely chopped fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil OR 1 cube frozen basil
Several grinds pepper (about ¼ tsp)
2 eggs (1 for filling and 1 for brushing on the pastry)
6 oz (about 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375’ for filo, or 400’ for puff pastry
Microwave frozen or fresh spinach in a covered casserole bowl about 2 minutes (longer for frozen spinach) until soft. Drain in fine mesh sieve over a bowl.
I place a bowl with a few cans in it on top of the sieve while preparing the other ingredients. Afterward, press on the spinach with a tablespoon for several minutes to squeeze out the liquid. You should have 1 1/2 cups drained spinach.
While spinach is draining, finely mince white and green parts of scallions, garlic, and mint leaves and other fresh herbs, salt and pepper Sauté onion, garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a heavy skillet. After a couple of minutes, stir in the herbs and heat for another minute.
Finish squeezing the last liquid from the spinach and discard the liquid. Stir the spinach into the onion and herbs.
Beat the first egg and add feta and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in the spinach mixture until well blended.
1 cup feta cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 Tb minced fresh parsley
Mix ingredients together. Spread on puff pastry or phyllo dough as below.
Assembling Puff Pastry (I used Trader Joe’s), cut both sheets in two. Beat the second egg. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg on each piece. Spoon filling o to fill exactly half the pastry, leaving about 1/2 inch border of dough on the edges. Fold the pastry over the filling, then seal the edges with the back of a teaspoon.
Place on a cookie sheet that you have sprayed with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 400’ Let cool, then cut in half diagonally, to make triangles.
Phyllo Dough directions:
For phyllo dough pastries: spread one sheet of defrosted dough on a large wooden board or cutting board. Spray olive oil on top. Spread another sheet on top of it and spray and repeat for a 3rd sheet. Spread a 2 inch line of spinach or cheese filling about 3 inches from the edge of the shorter side of the rectangle. Leave a one inch space between the filling and the sides of the phyllo.
Roll the dough up over the filling, then tuck in the sides, and continue rolling until the end. Spray a little of the oil on the edge to seal it. Place the roll seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a basting brush to cover the top and ends with a beaten egg.
Bake at 375’ for 40 minutes until browned.
Let cool, then slice the logs diagonally in each direction into triangle shapes.