Beetroot Freekeh Salad

Avocado Frikeh Salad

Freekeh is a young chewy wheat, with a nutty flavor. Containing twice as much protein and fiber as quinoa, freekeh is nutritious! Try this combination of antioxidant-rich pomegranate, beetroot, avocado, herbs, seeds and watch those health benefits add up!

Beetroot Freekeh Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole grain freekeh, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup beetroot, grated
  • 1 cup fresh purslane leaves (bakle)
  • 1 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ½ cup mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Dressing

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano

Directions

  1. In a salad bowl, combine freekeh, beetroot, purslane, thyme, pomegranate avocado and seeds.
  2. To make the dressing, mix together all ingredients and shake well.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well.

 

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Rice Salad with Chimichurri

Rice Salad LRGrade 3 class at my daughter’s school are preparing for International Day next month and they chose Argentina to represent and talk about. Part of the celebration, they proposed to serve a rice salad on that day, with Chimichurri sauce. Since I always volunteer to help with the food, I came up with my own version of the recipe and took a picture of the end product. I’m super happy to document it in my blog and share it with you, hope you will like it.
If you like to add more ingredients, my advice is to stay away from juicy ingredients and stick to solid ones like chorizo, ham, pickles, green onions, …

Ensalada De Arroz Con Chimichurri
Rice Salad with Chimichurri

Ingredients

  • 3 cups long grain rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cucumbers, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced

Chimichurri:

  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup apple vinegar
  • Freshly ground Salt and Black Pepper

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine all salad ingredients.
  2. In a small mason jar combine all of the dressing ingredients; shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Orzo Mozzarella Salad

OrzoMozarrellaSalad

This recipe is inspired from the salad of my awesome friend Sandrella.

I have a lot of awesome friends but none of them has her get-up-and-go astonishing characteristic. None of them is the gym freak to drive 1 hour in the morning, because this is where her favorite PT trains. None of them travels 4 times a year with 3 kids on different adventurous vacations. None of them runs her overseas business while baking her children sophisticated cake recipe or spending the day driving them from and to activities or play-dates.

I congratulate you my friend, not only because your food has been labeled as inspirational, but also because your vitality is contagious.

I surround myself with friends who have great sense of humor, extraordinary dreams and great ambitious. This helps to focus my energy in a positive direction. Being positive attract positive people, they somehow gravitate toward me.

In Oprah’s book What I Know For Sure, I like her chapter on gossip. She first talked about a truth Maya Angelou passed on to her: “I’m convinced that the negative has power—and if you allow it to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over,” she said. “Those negative words climb into the woodwork, into the furniture, and the next thing you know, they’re on your skin. A negative statement is poison.”

Oprah writes: “We live in a culture obsessed with gossip—who’s wearing what, who’s dating whom, who’s entangled in the latest sex scandal. What would happen if we declared our homes, our relationships or our lives gossip-free zones? We’d probably be surprised at how much time we’d free up to do the work that’s most significant—building our dreams rather than tearing down others’. We’d fill our homes with a spirit of truth that would make visitors want to kick off their shoes and stay awhile. And we’d remember that while words have the power to destroy, they also have the power to heal.

I did this salad on Saturday for some of my beautiful friends. We had dinner, chatted and laughed out loud. No one was making any effort to incorporate humor into the atmosphere, the energy was there, circulating light and carefree.

Always find the best in others, it’s necessary to living the good life.

 And now back to some serious talk of ORZO MOZZARELLA SALAD and this is how I make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, full or halved
  • 12 mini mozzarella balls
  • ¼ cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano

Preparation:

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water.
  2. In a bowl, combine orzo, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and black olives. Toss with pesto until ingredients are completely coated. Add olive oil, salt and oregano and toss again.
  3. Decorate with pine nuts and serve.

NOTE: I made my own pesto: Slice very thin a quarter cup of fresh basil. Crush basil inside the mortar with 1 tablespoon of pine nuts and 1 garlic clove. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan and stir.

 

Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

 

1.Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

Photography Serge Oryan

The beauty of Italy never ceases to amaze me, from north to south, armed with many authentic places (and recipes!!!) I fall in love with each city I visit. I was in Rome this month for my Birthday. My precious husband treated me with a 5-stars vacation and spent his time spoiling me.

What fall under the culinary section during my trip, are lots of Parmesan cheese, seafood and sparkling wine. From casual street food to Michelin starred restaurants, Italian cuisine is as influential as Rome’s artistic and historical assets. I selected only a couple of places to talk about, the ones I really want to visit again upon my next trip.

The first night we had dinner at Rinaldi al Quirinale, 11 via Parma, the next day we came back for their orange marinated salmon, Salmone Marinato all’Arancio; the best I ever had! On the way to Rinaldi, at the southern end of via Nazionale, my husband couldn’t resist the fab’ smell of the fresh and crunchy fries at Queens Chips. He ordered a piccolo (small) size, which was really a massive portion of freshly fried chips and sauce for €2.50!

Rome2015

After a long shopping day around the Spanish steps I was in the mood for some Italian cheese, fresh smoothie and a hearty salad. Ginger restaurant, via Borgognona 43/44, was the best place for that. The menu is a compilation of gourmet treats, well presented in a white, modern and trendy environment. They serve light meals, fresh salads and sandwiches. Not only I enjoyed my cheese selection with a refreshing Caienna smoothie (Avocado, dates, banana, almond milk) and a Fossa salad (Mixed salad leaves, yellow and red lettuce, rocket, spinach, dried tomatoes, turkey, goat cheese, organic walnuts, green apple), but I also got to meet and chat with the talented Soprano Zeina Barhoum, who happened to be sitting right next to us.

On our way back from the Colosseum we stopped by Aroma restaurant where we booked a table for lunch. This gourmet restaurant has been awarded with 1 Michelin star and its regional cuisine has been recognized with 5 Star Diamond Award! It offers a spectacular view on the Colosseum, highly recommended for a special event (like my birthday!!). The food was exquisite and creative and the attentive staff follows the chef’s dedication. This dining experience was so momentous and exceeded our expectations.

The Aroma2

ZAroma

On the last eve, I went to a gourmet store and bought fresh mini mozzarella balls, as I was dreaming about Caprese salad. My recipe is so simple and totally relies on the freshness of the ingredients. It requires no slicing at all. Combine all ingredients and toss with best quality olive oil. There’s absolutely no excuse for using average olive oil in your salad. The key to a perfect Caprese salad is to use only the good stuff. Don’t add pesto or balsamic vinegar; the less improvement you do, the better. The recipe is a classic as it is, do yourself a favor and don’t try to ameliorate it. It doesn’t matter what kind of tomatoes you use as long as it’s fresh! I love to use yellow and red tomatoes, as this slight twist adds elegance to the presentation also the sweetness of the yellow tomato rounds off the creaminess of the mozarella. Enjoy!

Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 100 g red cherry tomatoes, washed and rinsed
  • 100 g yellow cherry tomatoes, washed and rinsed
  • 150 g mini Mozzarella Cheese balls
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Dried oregano, to taste
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil, to taste
  • Coarse Sea Salt, to taste

Preparation

Combine tomatoes and Mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with basil leaves, oregano and salt. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with Italian grissini or some crusty bread.

White Beans Salad

White Beans Salad

Hello World! Isn’t it a beautiful day or is it just me! Kids are at school, which makes it much easier for me to concentrate on blogging and to stare at my screen and finish typing one whole sentence without being interrupted.

As much as I look forward for the school bus arrival in the afternoon, I SOMETIMES look forward for its departure the next morning. I must sound like a terrible mom, but it’s only when they’re at school that I enjoy my time guiltlessly! I can sense a lot of like-mindedness here, yes?

I can train 2 hours at the gym instead of 1, and when I go with Serge, I know that in between the reps we can leisurely chat, make plans or even exchange stories about Kaia and Axel.

Yesterday’s main topic was “beans”! Since meat is not right up my alley, Serge makes always sure that I’m at least having my share of pulses instead.

It’s kind of obvious, with so many healthy recipes on my blog, that I love healthy food, such as beans. They are very popular in my kitchen especially around this season with every grocer I visit, displaying elegantly his Aysha Khanum beans boxes. As the summer comes to a close, Aysha Khanum or shell beans (a.k.a Cranberry beans) are harvested. Beans inside the pods are now ready and plump. One variety is white while the other is white and blotched with red color; for the record, those red spots disappear once the beans are cooked.

During the last days of summer, I buy a lot of fresh shell beans, divide them in portions and freeze them for winter. It’s so easy to do; the pods open right up, releasing four to five beans each, I place all uncooked in freezer bags. The advantage is that they cook much faster than dry beans and taste much better.

My kids favorite white bean recipe is Fassolia bi Lahme, kind of a bean stew cooked with red sauce, meat chunks and served with rice on the side. I prefer the white bean salad, that probably you don’t need a recipe to make it, but I couldn’t help but share, especially after gazing at this gorgeous photo that I enjoyed styling while Serge was setting his camera and lightings. While on the surface this dish seems so simple in reality delivers some serious flavor!

P.S My Instagram account is @oryanmaya

White Beans Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups / 450g white or cranberry beans
  • or 1 can 450g of cooked white beans (washed and drained)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish

Preparation:

If using fresh shell beans, place them in a pressure cooker and cover with water (the water should come 1 to 1½ inch above the beans level). Cover and lock the lid. Let it cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for further 10-15 minutes. Release the pressure and wait for the cooker to cool entirely. Open carefully and drain. Alternatively use regular saucepan, cover with water and cook until beans are soft and tender.

If using dry beans, soak overnight and cook as per previous instructions inside a pressure cook, but for about 50-60 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and drizzle over the beans. You can adjust the dressing to taste.

Garnish with parsley and serve with Lebanese pita bread and spring onions.

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

IMG_4570MayaOryan

Panzanella salad is one that I remember to prepare when I have a slightly stale French loaf. I love home-made croutons, and when flavored with garlic or cheese I can nibble at that all day long.

This salad uses simple ingredients, like tomatoes, red onions, basil and a couple of cucumbers to add some crunch. The sharp taste of the dressing is a good match and will appreciatively contrast with the croutons.

Don’t forget to pull out your best quality extra-virgin olive to make it!

 

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 day old, loaf French baguette or Italian bread, cut in croutons size
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat olive oil for 2 minutes, then drop the garlic inside and leave it to cool.
  3. Scatter the bread pieces on a baking tray and brush or drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil. Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
  5. To prepare the dressing; discard garlic cloves. Add vinegar, shallot sugar and salt to olive oil and whisk.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil and bread (croutons). Toss all in the dressing and serve immediately.

Chef Emile’s Vegetable Salad

IMG_4430MayaOryan

Last year, my daughter’s class, Grade III, at school had to present POLAND on International Day. I, of course, offered my help to cook Polish food to be presented at our stall. Some moms signed in their name in my group before I even announce myself as a contributor. Thank you for your trust;-)

Well my menu and especially the salad, turned out to be a hit as people kept on coming back for more.

I thought the best is to serve something cold like salad and cake, as it’s going to be a lot of people coming at the same time for tasting after the dancing show. There were 1200 visitors and maybe 12 stalls. Salatka Jarzynowa is a traditional Polish salad that is served during holidays. It is prepared with root vegetables like carrot, potatoes and celery root. This salad is best prepared one day before as it needs to mature and tastes really better the next day. This was really convenient as part of the savory menu.

The best version to make it is my dad’s recipe; I did mention that my dad was a chef and I sure learnt from him a lot of cooking. His recipe has always been a star dish! It’s so consistent that we can eat this alone. I remember how he decorates it with shrimps or cold cuts, and always place it side by side with the turkey on Christmas. This year’s dinner was at my sister, and dad showed up with THE SALAD and they were both more than welcome.

Emile’s 2 important tips are: to prepare the vegetable salad with only vegetables that are not juicy, and to never skip the honey in the dressing.

I hate when one’s look at this salad and tells me I don’t eat potato salad, am like it’s okay to venture once, it’s not only potato … my genius dad taught me how to add Emmenthal cheese, ham and apple and this is the tastier salad you can ever eat!

My last request, please don’t open cans and throw in this salad, it only tastes better when you make it with fresh ingredients. How long does it take to chop little vegetables and let it boil for 10 minutes.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe and consider making it during holiday celebrations. As I said, it is best to prepare one day before serving.

For a fancier look, store it in a round container in the fridge, and just before serving, turn it upside down on a flat round plate and decorate with salami, cheese, salmon or shrimps.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh potatoes, diced and cooked al dente
  • 1 cup fresh carrots, diced and cooked al dente
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas, cooked
  • 200g Emmenthal cheese, diced
  • 200g Ham or turkey ham/ slices of ½ inch thick, diced
  • 200g Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 2 tbsp gherkins pickles, sliced (optional)

Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. To cook the potatoes, boil water and cook potatoes 7-10 minutes until cooked but still hard.
  2. Cook carrots and peas same as potatoes, and each one separately. Please don’t cook all together in same pot because the time of boiling varies for each one.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Combine cheese, apples and pickles. Add to potatoes, carrots and peas.
  5. Mix all the ingredients of the dressing and toss in the salad. Combine well gently. I use a rubber spatula not to mash the vegetables. Refrigerate.