Spring Break may be just starting in your part of the world, and I hope you are enjoying this time to soak in all the beauty and renewal the season comes with. I hope you are catching up on family time, cooking up a homemade meal or two, or simply setting aside everything and taking the time to just be. For us Spring Break happens a little early but also ends a little too soon — it was over last Sunday. It never seems to last long enough!
After I made this salad, I had plenty of bulgur, mint and cilantro leftover, and so thought I would use them to make meat patties. Bulgur is traditionally used in meat patties in many Mediterranean countries; it adds a nice texture and acts like bread or breadcrumbs in soaking up juices and keeping ground meats moist. Lamb yields very flavorful patties but ground turkey or beef will be delicious as well.
I’m enjoying spring very much. Nature’s creative energy is felt everywhere and my appetite for creating new dishes is not spared. I’m in the mood for cooking with vegetables, herbs and pretty much everything fresh and green.
I bought some thin, crisp asparagus and a few fragrant bunches of mint and cilantro, and set out to make this salad. I poured boiling water over the bulgur and let it swell up (It doesn’t need to be cooked, isn’t that wonderful?), chopped and lightly sauteed the vegetables, added herbs add feta cheese, and tossed the salad.
And voilà, lunch was ready to enjoy.
Nowhere in Florida is spring felt more than in the annual Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot. Incredible flower art, herb beds, and vegetable gardens keep getting a little more colorful, a little more extensive, a little more creative every year. The bonus this year is kiosks of garden-inspired little plates in every country. The mouthwatering selection includes vegetable lasagna primavera in Italy, savory bread pudding with peas and mushrooms in Germany, fruishi (fruit sushi) in Japan, a local watermelon & feta salad in Florida and so much more.
My first contact with mung beans was through glass noodles. My mother often used them to stuff chicken or squid when I lived in Morocco. Glass noodles are lovely, light and low calorie but nutritionally very insubstantial. Actual mung beans, however, are a storehouse of nutrients. They’re also light on the tummy and easy to digest.
When mung beans are cooked they open up and become soft and yellow in color. The texture and taste are similar to those of yellow or red lentils. Like any lentil or bean soup recipe, you have to make liberal use of spices to define the dish. This one is seasoned with coriander, cumin and ginger, and has a bit of a kick thanks to a hint of cayenne pepper.
I have baked quite a few gluten-free cakes but always made an exception when it came to pie crust and resorted to my trusted old wheat recipe. I don’t have to eat gluten-free, it is something I enjoy and do out of a desire to vary my grain intake rather than by necessity. When John’s sister went gluten-free for health reasons, I finally made the leap and created a gluten-free crust.
My lunches have been consisting of these quinoa patties lately and I can say I have been looking forward to lunch more than ever before. Having extended my maternity leave for a few additional months, I have been exercising almost daily, and having these at the ready to enjoy right after workouts has been wonderful. They reheat really well and are filled with nutrients and deliciously aromatic thanks to a fine amount of carrots, celery and onion tucked within. They are great as is but you can also enjoy them with a melted slice of cheese on top or include shredded cheese in the mixture for extra protein.
Buckwheat can be an acquired taste but once you get used to it, you simply love it. This cake is a great initiation to buckwheat since it is made with chocolate, and chocolate makes everything better. I’m particularly happy with this recipe because my daughter liked it. A healthy cake that passes the picky Maya test is definitely a keeper.
An ordinary yogurt snack can be turned into a treat worthy of royalty thanks to a hint of saffron flavor and a lovely, lovely golden hue. There is something palatial about this yogurt despite its simplicity. So, before you make it, I’d like to warn you that it may very well make you feel like a king lounging in his courtyard in front of a mosaic-tiled pool (in Speedos and Oliver Peoples sunglasses), enjoying his indulgent afternoon repast. Are you up for that?
I don’t think I’ve had blood oranges since this salad, and let me tell you, they are sweeter and redder than ever this year. And I’m afraid there are some beans to be spilled. So here goes my Sunday confession…
I ate half the oranges while cutting them for this salad. But that’s not all. I also ate half the roasted carrots before they went in the salad. The oranges were juicy and the carrots spiced and crunchy, and well…, I couldn’t resist.
Luckily there was enough left to make the salad. I added some spinach and tossed everything in a simple vinaigrette. It was fantastic with burgers. I will definitely be making it again, even after blood orange season is over. I think orange oranges with orange carrots will be pretty together as well.