Orzo Summer Pasta

OrzoSaladbyMayaOryan

Today feels like summer and all I can think off is a refreshing, healthy summer salad. An Orzo Salad wins the listed options hands down. It is simple, light and packed with lemony flavors (and contains pasta… what’s not to love about it?) 😉

I love Orzo (look for it on the pasta aisle), when tossed with Feta cheese, red onions and cucumbers it makes a beautiful hearty dish that keeps well in the fridge. It can be served as a side meal or it can be The Meal. Pull me a bowl out of the fridge on a hot day like that and I’m in heaven!

This whole scenario activated my drool glands; I rushed into the kitchen and like an artist in the making, I mixed cucumbers, red bell pepper, mukimame (shelled edamame), Feta and a touch of thyme leaves for fun.

Looking at my bowl and thinking you gorgeous creature, I’m so ready to dig in and enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup mukimame, cooked
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, picked and washed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water

2. In a bowl, combine orzo, mukimame, cucumbers, feta, bell pepper, and thyme leaves.

3. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Stir gently until all ingredients are well coated.

Raheb Salad or Grilled Eggplant Salad

BatenjenRaheb

My husband has been away for the past 10 days, so little action since he’s gone. Taking it easy, sleeping more, working out more, (cooking less), playing with the kids and drawing together, volunteering for school where I can see my girls in class and all the things I love and I miss doing.

Next week is going to be a busy week for me more photo shoots and more food styling.

LIVE Broadcasting from the gym, writing this post after my 5km run and feeling proud!

I present you “Batenjein Raheb”!  A vegetarian Lebanese dish, made of grilled eggplant mixed with olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned with salt and topped with fresh parsley, tomatoes, cucumber and pepper.

I don’t remember when did I shot this picture with Serge but am happy to find it because it’s one of my favorite salads especially during Lent, which is starting on Monday.

I love this time of the year, a time of prayer and reflection for many, and a period when people are closer to God. During their fast they abstain from eating meat and vegetarian meals come more in fashion. The Raheb salad for me is easily a main course especially when eaten with bread. I sure prefer to grill my eggplants at home and eat them fresh, but for those who have little time in the kitchen, grilled eggplants come also in jars and are very tasty.

Raheb Salad or Grilled Eggplant Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 kg eggplant
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • ½ cup Lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped

Preparation

1.Pierce the eggplant with a fork, cover with foil and char grill over the stove burner on all sides. This will take around 15-20 minutes pending on how large is the eggplant. Alternatively, it can be grilled inside the oven on a baking tray for about 30 minutes.

2.Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3.Peel and scoop out the grilled pulp and discard charred skin. The pulp can be sieved to reduce the water.

4.Place the pulp in a bowl and mix with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

5.Layer with peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley and serve.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

MayaOryan-QuinoaSalad

My first encounter with QUINOA was only few years ago. Before that, I never heard of it.

My Peruvian friend told me that it has been around for centuries, and I thought of myself, what a goose!

When I googled QUINOA, I found out that it is a whole protein and is packed with dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. This grain is gluten-free and has seen an increase in popularity in gluten-free diets. So gifted!

-Quinoa and I can sure be pals.

And all of a sudden, every restaurant I know has a quinoa recipe on his menu, and every Lebanese recipe has been exposed to the Quinoa factor; Tabouleh with quinoa, Falafel Quinoa, Zucchini stuffed with quinoa, Halloumi quinoa salad and many more.

Ever since, I geared up and Quinoa became a staple in my pantry.

One of my favorite Quinoa recipes that I’d like to share today, as it’s also going on my Christmas menu this year, is Quinoa and Chickpea Salad. And here how I make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked as per packet directions
  • 400g chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, cooked and peeled (or canned in brine)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced

For the vinaigrette:

  • 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Basically, 1 cup of quinoa is cooked in 2 cups of water. Boil until all water is absorbed.

In a salad bowl, mix all 4 ingredients.

Whisk together the sauce’s ingredients until thickened and drizzle over the quinoa-chickpeas mix. Combine well and serve.

French Lentil Salad

Is that for real that 3 months have passed since my last blog or it’s just my eyes! Gosh! What a busy summer… and how fast it finished!

Every year before the Holy month of Ramadan I get very busy with food styling jobs and this year as usual I got the chance to work on numerous brands I love. I had photo shoots every week since June.

But work is not the only reason to blame my disappearing, yes you guessed Vacation!

This year we went to beautiful Mallorca and sunny côte d’Azur. Delicious Paella and original Niçoise Salad! On our last night, we booked a table at La Petite Maison restaurant in Nice where they serve the best lentil salad ever and where my inspiration is for this recipe.

I fell in love with Nice! Maybe because there are a lot of similarities in their nature and our’s in Lebanon (they both lie on the Mediterranean sea) or simply maybe because I needed a vacation so much that I enjoyed every moment I spent there.

I’m sharing few pictures with you!

Ingredients

For the lentils:

  • 1 ½ cup red lentils or French green Lentilles du Puy
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bell pepper orange or red, diced
  • 1 red apple, peeled and diced
  • 5 small radishes, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in 4 each
  • 1 sprig of green onion, finely chopped (only the green with a little of the white bulb if desired)
  • Parsley, to garnish

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup tbsp red wine vinegar apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard

Preparation

1. Wash the lentils. Transfer to a saucepan with boiling water, add salt and cook until the lentils are tender (about 20-25mn). Do not overcook. When ready, drain and set aside.

2. To make the vinaigrette whisk all the ingredients together.

3. In a salad bowl, mix together the lentils, the vegetables and drizzle with the sauce. Decorate with parsley and serve,

Serve at room temperature.

The cafés – Nice

At the beach – Nice

Mallorca’s blue sea

Mallorca – August 2012

The Authentic Lebanese Fattoosh!


For some it’s Cats or Dogs, for others Rome or Paris, for me it’s Fattoosh or Tabooleh

I love Fattoosh salad, especially on a hot summer day. Last week we were blessed with sunshine and I had this salad for three consecutive days.

Fattoosh is a Lebanese salad, simple comme bonjour, there’s no secret on how to make it. The distinctive ingredients are sumac, purslane and toasted pita, while everything else is usual.

Crunchy and healthy! Enjoy it☺

Ingredients

  • ½ Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 3 Cucumber, diced
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Green Capsicum, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Radishes, sliced
  • 2 sprigs Green Onions / Spring Onions, chopped
  • ½ cup Parsley, leaves picked
  • ½ cup Purslane, leaves picked
  • ¼ cup Mint, leaves picked
  • 2 loaves Lebanese bread / Pitta Bread, toasted or fried

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp Sumac
  • ½ cup Lemon juice
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation

In a large salad bowl, mix together the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, capsicum, radish, green onions, parsley, purslane and mint. Toss with the dressing, and serve with toasted (or fried) bread at the last minute.