Freekeh

My son Micah returned from Israel this morning after spending the past six months in Tel Aviv.  Of course I had to welcome him with a home-cooked meal.  I made turkey meatloaf (a variation of Ina Garten’s recipe), a green salad with avocado and honey vinaigrette, schnitzle (to ease the transition from Israel to L.A.) and freekeh, a grain that I had purchased at the Williamsburg farmers’  market during my trip to NYC in February.

Freekeh is green wheat, mainly eaten in the Middle East.  The wheat is harvested, sun-dried and then set on fire on top of a bed of straw. Higher in protein and fiber than many other grains, freekeh is in vogue.  I had no idea.

I decided to prepare it in the same way that mujadara is prepared, with lentils and fried onions.  The freekeh has an earthy, smoky quality and is similar in texture to bulgur, another hearty grain that I love.

Freekeh

1 cup brown lentils

1 cup freekeh

2 large brown onions

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Rinse and place lentils in a medium saucepan, add water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain the lentils and set aside.

Dice onions and saute in olive oil over low heat until they are deep golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Most of the flavor comes from the caramelized onions so be patient.

Bring 1 cup freekeh to a boil with 2 cups water.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Remember this grain remains chewy.

Gently mix freekeh with lentils.  Add caramelized onions and season to taste. Serves 4-6

Note: Last night I baked the freekeh/lentil dish in a 300 degree oven, covered, for about 45 minutes. Not only did it give the flavors a chance to blend but the texture was perfect! I would definitely add this step to the recipe.

Enjoy,

Irene

Kale Chips

Last night’s sponge cake cooled in the pan overnight and it did not fall!  What I learned is that it is better to beat the egg whites to a slightly stiffer  consistency before incorporating them into the yolks.  Also, remember to tap the cake pan on the counter before placing it in the oven to eliminate  any air  pockets.  Of course, we haven’t tasted it yet.

As I mentioned yesterday, my plan was to go to the Hollywood Farmers’  Market this morning and at 8:00 A.M. I headed over with my good friend  Fredda and my daughter Shira.  Here is what we found:  pink cherry blossoms, lilacs, rainbow radishes, purple carrots, strawberries, swiss chard, brown eggs, asparagus, basil, zucchini blossoms, mint, kale, golden nugget mandarins, turnips, sweet potatoes, baby heirloom tomatoes, parsnips and ice cream (for tonight).  I am apparently going to separate and bake the kale leaves to make kale chips, a request from my daughter.  That should be interesting.  The squash blossoms and chard are going to be sautéed with basil, garlic, and olive oil (separately).  I am putting the carrots, tomatoes and radishes on the Seder table for people to snack on before the meal is served.  The sweet potatoes are for the tzimmis and the herbs are going to be minced with olive oil and garlic for the chicken.

NOTE:  Here is the recipe that I used for Kale Chips.  Everyone seemed to enjoy having something healthy and crunchy to snack on after the blessing for Karpas.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2009/02/tuscan_kale_chips

I hope that all of you have a Chag Sameach and I look forward to writing again soon.

Enjoy,

Irene

Quinoa

Shabbat tea worked out perfectly.  We had fresh fruit, a Greek salad and the fallen sponge cake topped with fresh strawberries. Nobody seemed to mind that the cake had fallen, and we finished the whole thing.  Another cake is in the oven and I am planning on letting it cool in the pan for about two hours, a tip I was given by Helene last night. I will keep you posted.

I had prepared some quinoa yesterday and this afternoon I used it to create a healthy, light salad that was full of flavor and color. Quinoa is not something that I grew up eating but it is a great alternative to potatoes or matzoh laden dishes. The trick is to add enough ingredients because the Quinoa itself is very bland.

Quinoa Salad

3 cups Quinoa

1 mango, diced

2 green onions, sliced

1 cup purple cabbage, diced

6 mint leaves, finely chopped

4 basil leaves, sliced

1 small can mandarin oranges, drained

3 beets, roasted, cooled and diced

2 Tbs honey

2 Tbs orange juice

1 Tbs lemon juice

3 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp red chili flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Rinse quinoa and add to pot with 5 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Cook for 13 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Prepare beets by cutting off both ends and wrapping in foil. Roast for one hour at 350.  Peel and dice.

Note: I used golden beets.

In a bowl combine remaining ingredients with quinoa and mix.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

Enjoy,

Irene

Roasted Asparagus

Each year we get so caught up in the newest Passover products on the market that it is easy to forget that we can enjoy the holiday without sacrificing our health.  We are just a few days into Spring and here in Los Angeles the farmers’ markets are filled with all of the wonderful produce that the season has to offer;  California artichokes, rainbow chard, French radishes, fresh rhubarb, and of course, the ultimate Spring vegetable, asparagus.  This recipe is not new or innovative, it is a reminder that we can all have a healthy and delicious Passover, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Roasted Asparagus

2 bunches asparagus

3 Tbs olive oil

1 Tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

On a flat baking sheet, mix oil with salt, pepper and garlic. Roll asparagus in mixture and spread in a single layer. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roast asparagus for about 15 minutes.

Enjoy,

Irene