These Mediterranean Recipes Are Sure To Be A Hit With You

Copyright 1994 The Chicago Tribune
From Knight-Ridder Newspapers/Tribune Information Services
Selected and Prepared by Tribune Media Services

Chicago Tribune 

The following recipes are adapted from Paula Wolfert's ``The Cooking of the Eastern


``Here is a red-hued, peppery version of the famous Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad as it
is prepared in Gaziantep, Turkey. The rich red-pepper-paste base provides it with its
magnificent color, while pomegranate molasses and lemon juice contribute a fruity
tartness. This kisir needs less oil than most versions for bulgur salads and is thus less

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Chilling time: Several hours
Yield: About 6 cups 

2 fleshy red bell peppers, stemmed, cored, cut up
1 red or green chili, cored, stemmed, seeded
1 1/2 cups fine-grain bulgur, see sources
2 vine-ripened medium tomatoes
8 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup chopped parsley
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, see sources
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Near East or Aleppo to taste, see sources (or substitute hot Hungarian paprika)
Tender romaine lettuce leaves or boiled vine leaves

1. Make the red pepper paste. Grind the peppers and chili with 2 tablespoons water in a
food processor until pureed. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over medium heat,
stirring often, until reduced to a jamlike consistency yielding 2/3 cup. (Can be reduced,
uncovered, in a 2-quart Pyrex bowl in the microwave oven.)

2. Place the bulgur in a fine sieve and shake to remove dust. Dampen with cold water
and let stand 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture. Cut the tomatoes in half, gently
squeeze to remove the seeds, and grate the halves with the cut side facing the coarsest
side of a four-sided grater or flat shredder. (You should be left with just the tomato skin
in your hand; discard it.)

3. Combine the bulgur, red pepper paste, tomato pulp and remaining ingredients in a
mixing bowl, blending the mixture with your hands or with two forks. Cover tightly
with plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours before serving. Correct the seasoning and
serve surrounded by lettuce or vine leaves and pitas.


``Although the vibrant pink color of this Middle Eastern dip is startling, the flavor is
superb. There are many versions. Sometimes the beets are pureed and blended into the
yogurt; other times, they are simply sliced or cubed; still other times, a little tahini is
blended in for a deeper, richer flavor. In this recipe, the beets are simply grated with the
shredding disk of a food processor, then folded into thick, creamy yogurt. Serve as a dip
or an accompaniment to fish.''

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings 

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, drained to 1 1/2 cups, see note
8 small beets
1 large clove garlic, crushed with a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons fresh, strained lemon juice
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar, optional
Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish 

1. Drain the yogurt to 1 1/2 cups. Cut off all but 1 inch of the beet stalks and leave the
roots intact. Rinse the beets well but do not peel. Cook the beets in boiling salted water
until tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Drain, slip off the skins under cold running water, and
cut away the root ends and stalks. Coarsely grate the beets, using the shredding disk of a
food processor or the large holes of a hand grater.

2. Combine the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the beets
and yogurt and blend well. Taste and add a pinch of sugar if desired. Transfer to a
serving dish, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Garnish with sprigs
of fresh mint just before serving.


``This is a dish Macedonians call golden chicken, because of its crisp, golden skin. It is
very easy to make. Serve with boiled potatoes, onions and rehydrated hot peppers
mashed to a puree and seasoned with oil, vinegar and garlic.''

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: Overnight
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings 
8 chicken thighs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed with salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
Pinch of ground allspice or cinnamon
Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt, drained to 1/2 cup, see note 

1. Trim the chicken to remove excess fat. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, paprikas,
cinnamon, allspice, salt and black pepper; coat the chicken pieces with this mixture.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Bring the chicken to room temperature. Start a hardwood charcoal fire in an outdoor
grill or heat the broiler. Brush the broiling rack with oil and set about 6 inches from the
heat source.

3. Place the chicken skin side down, coat with the yogurt, and grill or broil, basting often
and turning once or twice, until the chicken is very tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Note: To drain yogurt, place lightly salted, low-fat yogurt in a sieve lined with
cheesecloth set over a bowl. Leave it to drip 30 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Cover and refrigerate the drained yogurt up to 2 weeks.

The following recipes are adapted from Nancy Harmon Jenkins' ``The Mediterranean
Diet Cookbook.''


Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings 
2 pounds firm-textured white fish fillets such as cod, scrod, haddock or snapper
A little flour for dusting
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 very ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped, or 4 canned whole tomatoes, drained, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup minced fresh cilantro
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste 

1. Cut the fish into serving-size pieces about 1 inch thick. Lightly dust the fish pieces
with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium to high
heat and, when it is almost smoking, add the pieces of fish. Cook the fish, a few pieces at
a time, 2 to 3 minutes to a side. (The fish will continue cooking later.) Remove each
piece as it is cooked and set aside.

2. When all the fish is done, discard the frying fat and wipe the pan out with paper
towels. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and over medium-low heat gently
cook the onion and garlic until soft but not brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and
cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have given off their juices and started to
thicken, about 10 minutes more. Stir in cumin and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add
salt and pepper if necessary.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the fish pieces in a shallow baking or gratin dish
and cover them with sauce. Bake until the fish is thoroughly cooked and the sauce is
bubbling, about 20 minutes.

(Nutrition information per serving: 167 calories, 21 g protein, 6 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate, 68
mg sodium, 49 mg cholesterol.)


``In this Spanish way of cooking chicken, tomatoes are sometimes added and cooked
down with peppers. I prefer the purity of sweet pepper flavor. If you can't find any
slightly hot peppers (such as Anaheim or New Mexico peppers), add a very little
cayenne, hot pepper flakes, or pure ground red chili to the pepper mixture. (But don't
use chili powder, which is a mixture of chili pepper, cumin, and other seasonings for
making chili con carne.)

``The chicken parts should be small legs separated from thighs, breast halves cut in half
again. This is also a good way to treat skinless, boneless chicken breasts, if that's the cut
you prefer, because the sauce compensates for the dryness of the meat. If you use
boneless chicken, the quantity needed for the recipes will be less  2 pounds should be
plenty for 8 servings.''

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 8 servings 

4 pounds chicken parts
Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 flavorful red and green peppers, preferably both sweet and slightly hot
2 medium onions, halved, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled
12 fat green Italian or Greek olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup each: amontillado sherry
1/2 cups water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, not canned or frozen concentrate 

1. Cut away any excess fat or skin from the chicken pieces. You can discard the skin
entirely if you wish. Sprinkle the pieces with salt if you wish and liberally with pepper.
In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the chicken pieces in 4 tablespoons of oil until
they are golden brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes to a side.

2. Meanwhile, slice the peppers lengthwise, about 1/2 inch thick. When the chicken is
done, remove it from the skillet and set aside to drain. Discard the cooking fat and wipe
out the pan. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and gently cook the onions and
garlic over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft but
not beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add thyme and pepper strips and continue
cooking and stirring until peppers are soft and limp, about 15 minutes. Mix in the

4. Put the chicken in an ovenproof casserole or dish. Pile the pepper and onion mixture
over the chicken pieces to cover them. Add the sherry, stock and orange juice to the
skillet, raise the heat to medium-high, and boil, scraping up any brown bits left in the
bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid over the peppers.

5. Bake until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce is sizzling, about 30
minutes (20 for skinless, boneless breasts).

(Nutrition information per serving: 368 calories, 29 g protein, 22 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate,
227 mg sodium, 88 mg cholesterol.)

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