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Category: Vegetarian

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw with Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw with Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

This was the first time I made this and it ended up being great. I love using red cabbage for it’s beautiful color, slightly bitter and peppery flavor and many health benefit- Vitamin C, A, K and dietary fiber to name a few. It adds a nice crunch to the otherwise soft textured fish taco and marinated in a honey-lime-cumin vinaigrette it became a great addition to our fiesta!

In case you’re wondering, it’s called “Azi’s Slaw” because my beautiful sister Azadeh was a big help in the recipe testing of this dish. She has always been a dream sous chef, putting up with my colorful antics in the kitchen… Thanks, Sis!

 

 

Mama’s Mexican Fiesta

Mama’s Mexican Fiesta

My beautiful Mother Edna is one of my greatest inspirations- in life and in the kitchen. In life she is and always has been an incandescent source of light + love and my rock. In the kitchen, she is a creative genius. Cooking with my Mother has always been a pure source of joy for me and I have learned much from her over the years. She makes amazing dishes and somehow manages to always keep it healthy yet interesting. She is the master of creating Persian dishes, but balances that with new and modern recipes. There is never a dull moment in Edna’s Kitchen and thanks to her, many lovely meals have been enjoyed in our family Home.

Much like in Italian culture, in a Persian family you show people how much you love them with food. Combine that with the generous magnanimity of the graciousness of Persian hospitality and every gathering becomes magical. I grew up in a home in which my parents embraced that sentiment along with a deep passion to make the people we love happy by bringing them together and hosting beautiful meals. The pots and pans in that kitchen are exhausted! I can’t tell you how much work and effort they’ve been a part of over the years. I love these pots… so many meals, so many trips to the market, so many onions peeled, so many glasses of wine filled… so many memories, so much hard work and ultimately, so much love.

One of many cabinets filled with heavy duty pots and pans. More than kitchen utensils, they have been the vessels through which Mom’s beautiful cooking has messenger-ed her love for gatherings, people, family and friendship.

 

Given her exceptional skills in the department, our Mom (whom we adoringly call Duda) is usually cooking for us. On rare special occasions, I get to cook for her. This past Mother’s day was one of those special days. And in true Duda character of originality and unpredictability- she asked for Fish Tacos! When Mama asks for a Mexican Fiesta, she gets the best Fiesta! In this post I share with you the fun menu we enjoyed. It’s not an easy task, but Duda was pleased. Not only with the fish tacos, but also with sharing another delightful meal with her family, in her kitchen of pots, memories and laughter.

Tequila-Lime Baked Fish Tacos

Fish tacos, how we love them so… truly one of my favorite things to eat. I enjoy indulging in crispy fried versions once in a while, but in general prefer a healthier baked or grilled version. With the immense flavor of this tequila-lime recipe nothing will be lost, promise! There is just something so gratifying about a good fish taco. All you need is a white flaky fish, a zesty salsa with a kick, guacamole, a crunchy slaw and of course a nice amount of citrus and spice and everything nice!

My family loved this recipe and I hope you enjoy it too. With summer just beginning, this is the perfect dish to make for warm afternoons in the backyard served with a refreshing margarita!

¡Buen apetito!

 

 

 

Vibrant and Colorful Mango Salsa

This colorful salsa is fun to make, fun to eat and a feast on the eyes! The gorgeous colors make the table festive and the sweet and sour flavors are explosive! Great on fish tacos or as a dip.

 

Nani’s Guacamole

I think avocado is the most magnificent fruits in the world! It is rich, creamy, earthy, nutty, and savory. Avocados also have great health benefits. The list is long but to name a few they are high in potassium, good fats and they are one of the few high protein fruits. I love it’s creamy texture and use it as a substitute for butter or oils often. And of course, nowhere is the beautiful avocado highlighted more than in a classic guacamole! I don’t use garlic or tomato’s in my recipe, but feel free to add them if it makes you happy…

P.S. This recipe also works really well for avocado toast. It’s excellent on toasted sourdough bread with a couple of slices of tomato and a pinch of sea salt. Yum!

 

 

Pico De Gallo

Salsa Fresco

Forget store-bought salsa and with a few simple steps make your own tasty Salsa Fresca!
In Spanish, pico de gallo literally means the “beek of the rooster.” An internet search led me to several colorful explanations for the etymology of the term, but mostly urban legends and no definitive answer. According to Wikipedia “in Mexico it is sometimes called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colors of the red tomato, white onion, green chili are reminiscent of the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).” So there you go.

Now, let’s make some yummy flag sauce! This is a party favorite to be enjoyed as a dip with chips, and it ends up being great on tacos, nachos, burritos, grilled chicken… and so on.

 

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw
Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

This was the first time I made this and it ended up being great. I love using red cabbage for it’s beautiful color, slightly bitter and peppery flavor and many health benefit- Vitamin C, A, K and dietary fiber to name a few. It adds a nice crunch to the otherwise soft textured fish taco and marinated in a honey-lime-cumin vinaigrette it became a great addition to our fiesta!

In case you’re wondering, it’s called “Azi’s Slaw” because my beautiful sister Azadeh was a big help in the recipe testing of this dish. She has always been a dream sous chef, putting up with my colorful antics in the kitchen… Thanks, Sis!

 

 

Fresh Lime Margaritas

Who doesn’t love a citrusy fresh margarita! A natural addition to our Mexican themed celebration but also a fun drink to make all summer long for those hot weekend afternoons to enjoy with chips and dip and friends.

Skip the high sugar content margarita mixes and make this fresh version at home. You can either use agave nectar, honey or make a simple syrup in minutes. I usually use agave nectar, but since this was a celebration we indulged a bit by using sugar. No biggie, everything in moderation! Just combine 1/2 cup sugar in 1 cup water in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until sugar dissolves. It only takes a few minutes.

¡Salud!

 

 

Master sous chef Azi and I toasting to a successful meal!

 

 

 

 

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Medley

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Medley

I love quinoa and use it often in my recipes. I like the health benefits of this gluten-free, high fiber content, magnesium and iron rich seed which also happens to be one of the most protein rich foods we can eat.  The Incas discovered the seed around 4 thousand years ago, which they believed increased the stamina of their warriors. In the last decade, Quinoa has grown in popularity and is considered a “super food!” Quinoa is not a grain. It’s actually a seed that is related to the spinach and beet families. And although I don’t believe it’s a cardinal sin to eat carbs (as seen in my reviews of these restaurants), I do enjoy the rice like feel of quinoa without the heavy feeling of carbohydrate-rich foods.

Quinoa is a great item to have in the pantry- it can be used as a side on its own or, mixed with veggies and proteins. Here is a personal favorite of mine, mixed with a kind of deconstructed ratatouille... enjoy!

 

The Evergreen Chimichurri Sauce

The Evergreen Chimichurri Sauce

I experienced my first real chimichuri sauce when visiting Argentina and Uruguay in 2009 and it was love at first taste! This fresh, clean, garlicy, slightly spicy green goodness that elevated the incredible steaks we ate in Buenos Aires and beyond.

Over the years, I’ve perfected my recipe and use in on more than just steaks. It’s excellent on chicken, fish and my personal favorite- cauliflower steaks! (recipe coming soon).

A fantastic condiment that is pretty easy to whip up. I usually make a batch and use it throughout the week.

 

Persian Stuffed Peppers (Dolmeh)

Persian Stuffed Peppers (Dolmeh)

The term “Dolmeh” can be traced back thousands of years in the form of various stuffed vegetables and was popular all over ranging from the Middle East, to Central Asia, and surrounding areas. The vegetables stuffed could include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, and eggplant.  Stuffed grape and cabbage leaves were also part of this tradition and can be traced back even further in culinary history. One explanation for etymology of the word dolmeh is from the Turkish verbal noun  dolmak,  which means “to be stuffed.” Makes sense.

In the Persian Empire, references of dolmeh are traced back to the 17th century and the courts of the Shah (king). According to Wikipedia, Alī-Akbar Khan Āšpaz-bāšī,  chef to the court of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah, recorded dolmeh as a special category of Persian cuisine and gave recipes for stuffing grape leaves, cabbage leaves, cucumbers, eggplants, apples, and quinces.

My beloved late Grandmother made dolmeh combining green stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage leaves in a large pot. She used tomato sauce and the end result was delicious! This is a picture of the dolmeh she made for us when my mom and I visited her in 2009. Those beautiful hands made many lovely dishes for us on that trip. And they all had the common ingredient of love incorporated. Many of my cooking inspirations are connected to that trip. Since my family immigrated from Iran when I was a child, this was the only time I cooked with her as an adult and I cherished every moment.

It seems the popularity and timelessness of this dish, is due to it’s simplicity. Stuff any vegetable with other vegetables, herbs and/or meat and you have a rich dish that satiates any palette.

I made my version of dolmeh for Nowruz (the Persian New Year) and they were a hit! The only dish with no leftovers and that says a lot for any meal in an Iranian home where abundance is the key ingredient to any feast.

It is a relatively easy recipe and quite healthy. You can make it meat-less by eliminating the ground turkey or chicken for a vegetarian option, nothing will be lost. The fresh herbs add such great flavor and aroma! Serve it up as a main or side dish and enjoy!

 

 

Green Garden Herb Basmati Rice Without a rice cooker

Green Garden Herb Basmati Rice Without a rice cooker

Thanks everyone for the feedback on this recipe! Many of you asked for instructions on how to make it without a rice cooker. We gave it a go and the results were equally wonderful- and we ended up with a bit of delicious tahdig (crunchy bottom) to boot!

The recipe utilizes the same ingredients as the rice cooker version. Here, I used a nonstick standard pot.  Instructions are below. Feel free to share your results and happy cooking!

 

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Black Bean Bowl

Black Bean Bowl

Make this for a quick and satisfying lunch or dinner when you don’t have a lot of time.

It’s high in protein and flavor and quiet satisfying for a low calorie meal. The kick from the jalapeno gives this recipe a nice heat without being overpowering.

It can also be used as a dip with tortilla chips when entertaining, so it’s versatile.

 

 

 

Persian Cucumber Salad with Red Onion & Thai Basil

Persian Cucumber Salad with Red Onion & Thai Basil

This salad is light n’ lovely. It’s aromatic and refreshing. It’s also a great choice when you need lots of flavor but don’t have a lot of time. I use Persian cucumbers because the fresh and fragrant taste is  an important part of the success of this dish. The basil’s slightly sweet, lemony and minty aroma delightfully compliments the green and fruity fragrance of the cucumber.

If you don’t have Thai basil, sweet basil works great too.

 

 

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Rosemary & Sea-Salt Baked Potato Chips

Rosemary & Sea-Salt Baked Potato Chips

These baked potato “chips” are great as a snack on their own dipped in ketchup, or work well as a side dish to any weeknight dinner. They’re super easy to make too!

 

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Healthy Eggplant & Egg Pita Sandwich (Sabich!)

Healthy Eggplant & Egg Pita Sandwich (Sabich!)

There are many delicious vegetarian sandwiches which originate from the Middle East and Sabich is one of my favorites! Possibly even second to Falafel which is so wonderful.

Sabich is inspired by Iraqi/Israeli street food and is dense with flavor. The chopped salad and pickles in brine offer a nice textural contrast to the softer eggplant and hard boiled egg. The hummus ties it all together.

Similar dishes like this exist in other Mediterranean cultures. In the Persian home I grew up in, Saturday morning breakfasts often included an eggplant and egg dish. Recipe testing for this post reminded me of simple family moments on casual weekend mornings. I remember my Father used to put red and white onion peels in the water when boiling the eggs which beautifully colored the eggs with gentle watercolor-like shades of amber, red and brown. This “colorful” memory made me smile. How simple things like discarded onion skin can increase the value and beauty of our experiences.

Try this for a weekend brunch or a meatless Mondays and you will not be disappointed!

Traditionally, the eggplant is fired, I saute or roast for a healthier alternative.

 

 

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