Mediterranean Barley Salad

My  renewed quest to eat healthier begun a few months ago when I realized that I only had 3 months to prepare for a beach wedding. Eeks! Luckily, the wedding was fabulous and I didn’t gain 12 pounds right before it, so everything went swimmingly, so to speak. However, it did encourage me to start looking for healthier options for grains. I have blogged about the wonder-grain quinoa, which I love, but I needed to mix things up a bit.

I recently discovered pearled barley, which *technically* is not a whole grain (because the husk of the barley grain is removed), but still pretty delicious and good for you. Because the husk of barley requires very little processing to get rid off, and takes very little nutritional value from the barley, your body treats pearled barley like a whole grain!

You can use it as a substitute for other, not-so-healthy grains like rice. And it makes a mean cold salad. You can buy pearled barley in most grocery stores in the bulk food section for VERY cheap. This is a good starter recipe if you are new to pearled barley.

This dish was inspired by a friend’s Mediterranean salad. She brought it to a party once and I was smitten.  I really like the light, earthy flavors of mediterranean cuisine. This cold salad is a crowd pleaser and great to bring to a potluck on a hot summer day.

A Delectable Endeavors Original

01 cup of dry pearled barley

2 cups of water

2 Tbl lemon juice

3 Tbl olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1/2 cup of chopped, roasted red pepper

1/8 cup chopped parsley

feta

Bring 2 cups of water with 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. Add dry pearled barley. Let sit for approximately 40 – 45 minutes until water is completely absorbed. It is important not to stir the barley while it cooks.

Mix lemon juice and oil with garlic and salt and pepper. Once barley is cooked, while still warm, pour oil and lemon mixture over the barley and toss with a fork. Toss in red pepper, chickpeas, parsley and feta to taste. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Then, enjoy!

The Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts

One of my favorite restaurants is Zaytinya.  They have delicious small plates so you can try a bunch of different things and the best pita bread on earth.  But I really love them because they taught me that I love brussels sprouts.  I have never been a big fan of cooked cabbage smell, but these brussels sprouts are out of this world!

I decided I wanted to try to replicate these on my own at home. I’ve tried them a couple of different ways, and, by far, the best concoction is that of Slate writer L.V. Anderson. Anderson writes a column called “You’re Doing it Wrong” where she tells readers how to prepare foods in the most delicious way. I don’t always agree with her advice (a ginger snap crust does not necessarily save a pumpkin pie, and I’m personally not a huge fan of the feta/watermelon combination), but she does have this one spot on. You can read her column here.

However, the real secret to delectable sprouts is char. I don’t mean burning them to a crisp, but certainly getting some delicious brown on there so the edges begin to wilt and become crunchy. This is an essential part to fully cooking a brussels sprout. Those little things are tightly wrapped balls of water-holding buds that need some coaxing to get to the melt-in-your mouth with an edge of crunch consistency that makes this dish shine. (In other words, it takes a while to roast them.) Additionally, these little guys are super healthy!

From L.V. Anderson at Slate

Soy-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Oil for greasing the pan
1¼ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons peanut oil (I’ve used canola and olive just fine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Black pepper

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 13- by 18-inch baking sheet. Toss the Brussels sprouts with oil, soy sauce, mustard, and a little black pepper. Transfer to the greased baking sheet in an even layer and roast until the sprouts are partially tender, about 15 minutes. Stir and raise the oven temperature to 400°F. Continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the sprouts are browned and fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Homemade Samosas

I love Indian food. I am not Indian, but it truly is my comfort food. If I’ve had a bad day, I crave tikka and naan. I’m not sure what it is, but it makes me incredibly happy.  I usually shy away from making it at home because, let’s face it, I’m not very good at it. Indian food just isn’t the same at home.

That being said, I did make these delicious samosas at home and I’m pretty impressed with myself. Samosas are probably the most popular of Indian snacks, because who doesn’t like spiced potato and vegetable in a flaky crust? No one, that’s who.  Now I know my samosas look like empanadas. That is because I used pre-made empanada dough to cheat. We’ve been through this, I am not good at making dough. Besides, I didn’t want to slave all day over these.  I need my delicious samosas now!

This is a Delectable Endeavors original! Meaning I didn’t adapt it from anything! Pretty awesome, I know. Essentially, I tried to used what I already had to make something as close to traditional as possible.  These aren’t the real thing, but the certainly do the trick in a comfort food emergency.

 

Empanada wrappers (I used Goya discos)

1 cup of cubed russet potato

1 1/2 cup of cauliflower florets

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 jalapeno, finely diced

2 tsp of minced garlic

2 Tbl butter

1 Tbl canola or vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seed

1/2 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

Salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add cauliflower and potato and boil until tender, then drain. Roughly break up into smaller pieces.  You can do this with a potato masher or, if you don’t have one, use a pastry cutter like I do!

Heat oil and butter together in a pan on medium heat. Add fennel seed and cumin seed. Add garlic, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander and heat until fragrant (only a minute).  Add onion and jalapeno. Cook until onion is translucent.

Add potato and cauliflower mixture and mix. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

I filled the empanada wrappers just like empanadas.  As you can see, I simply wetted the edges, folded it over and used the tines of a fork to seal it. Voila!

Roasted Corn Salad

I was born and raised in Iowa, so I know a thing or two about corn.  Every summer, we would wait with baited breath for the sweet corn to be ready.  My dad would bring back paper bags full of it and we would sit on our stoop, cleaning the husks away just before plopping them into pot of boiling water for the freshest, sweetest corn you’d ever have.  So, even as an adult, I crave these moments, and the corn.  Now that we are officially sweet corn season, I thought giving everyone something else to do with that corn would be nice.  Not that you need to.

This is an incredibly easy recipe.  It basically goes like this

Step 1 – Roast or boil some ears of corn.  Try not to immediately eat it all.

Step 2- Let corn cool completely and cut it off the ear.

Step 3 – Toss corn with feta and cilantro.  Enjoy!

It is so delicious and is a wonderful, light summer side dish.

Soft Pretzel Bites

Ever since I moved to Wisconsin, my intake of beer, brats and cheese has skyrocketed.  I think it is inevitable in a place where sausages, cheese and microbrews are the pride of the land.  And it shows.  They are everywhere, fragrant and delicious.  And affordable.  So. . . darn . . . affordable.  It will be the death of me, surely.

And what goes better with beer, brats and cheese?  Pretzels, of course!  Salty, soft, warm pretzels.  These are a delicious snack for a party, of just pigging out at home with your favorite extra sharp cheddar and New Glarus ale.  That is usually what I do.  Did I mentioned I started running again?  🙂

Whether or not you plan to share these or enjoy them all yourself, I highly advise making them.  I can’t tell you from experience because my husband made them, but he made it look super easy.

No tips for this recipe, except that it sounds totally crazy to boil the bites in 2/3 cup of baking soda and water, but it works some sort of magic, because they were soft and pillowy on the inside.  I’m sure there is some sort of science behind this, but I don’t know what it is.  (message me if you know!)  And just for your enjoyment, a picture of my hubby leisurely reading The Hunger Games while he bakes these in our minuscule kitchen.

I got these from What’s Gaby Cooking

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water

5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 tsp salt

4 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

Vegetable Oil, for the bowl

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 egg yolk

splash of water

coarse sea salt

Combine the yeast, brown sugar and warm water in a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast gets foamy.

Once foamy, add melted butter and salt to the mixture and combine by turning mixer on a low setting. Add flour while the dough hook is rotating and mix until the dough has formed a large mass.

If you want to make the dough ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator before you let it rest and raise.  You can remove it from the fridge when you are ready and let is raise at room temperature.  If you are ready to make the pretzel bites now, remove dough from bowl and let rest in an oiled bowl for an hour, covered with a kitchen towel.  It should nearly double in size.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a large pot with 10 cups water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the baking soda. The water WILL bubble up.  This is normal.  Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14 inches long. Cut the rope of dough into little bite sizes pieces about 1 inch long.

Using a slotted spoon, add about 20 to the boiling water at a time. Once they rise to the top of the water, about 30 seconds, remove with your slotted spoon to a paper towel to dry. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Transfer the bites to parchment lined baking sheets or a silicone baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and a splash of water. Brush the tops of each pretzel bite with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-16 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Wow!  This dish is already famous and I haven’t even posted it yet.  A little while ago, I posted a picture of my vegetable fried rice and almost immediately people started asking me for the recipe.  Well everyone, the wait is over.  Here it is!

As I have previously discussed, I love Asian food.  I was craving Chinese food the other night, so I decided to take a stab at making fried rice.  Now, I would like to preface this post by saying I have never made fried rice before.  I am somewhat intimidated by Indian and Chinese food.  I keep thinking someone’s grandmother would be insulted by my creation.  But, I decided to try it anyway.

I looked all over the internet for recipes.  I watched videos of men cracking eggs into pans.  I scoured pictures of shimmering bowls full of beautiful combinations.  But in the end, I decided to just make a simple, home-grown version of fried rice.  I know this is bold.  But I didn’t I didn’t stray far from the basic combination of rice, vegetables, and egg.

Just to make the process clear, I took step-by-step photographs.  And I have a couple of tricks of the trade.  Firstly, I noticed that most people advise using leftover rice.  I would agree with this, but only if its sticky, already somewhat moist.  I used brown rice that had gotten nice and sticky while cooking and it worked well.  Secondly, the key to making good fried rice is all in the timing.  I tried to give the approximate times for everything.  However, it is important to note that the times will not help if the food is not evenly chopped.  Plus, this recipe takes very little time to cook, so take care to properly prepare the ingredients ahead of time.

A Delectable Endeavors Original:

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 scallions, sliced lengthwise and chopped

2 Tbls of oil

2 1/2 cups cooked rice

2 Tbls of soy sauce

2 tsp garlic salt

Like I said, make sure to prepare all your veggies ahead of time.  See all the nicely chopped vegetables?  They are evenly cut so each piece is approximately the same size.  This way they all cook evenly.

Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high.  Start by cooking the carrots.

Take about 3 minutes to cook the carrots.  Or, until they are slightly darker.  However, make sure they are not fully cooked.  They will be in the pan a bit longer.  Add onions.

Cook onions until they are begin to turn transucelnt.  This should only take a couple of minutes.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Crack an egg into the pan.  Use a spatula to vigorously break up egg into small pieces while it cooks.  Only spend about a minute or two doing this, then add scallions.  Cook scallions in mixture for a minute, then add rice.

Mmmm now its starting to look like fried rice.  Cook this mixture for a minute while breaking up rice and evenly distributing the ingredients.  Then add soy sauce.

You can add this to taste, adding as much as you would like.  I added about 2 Tablespoons.  Mix this in, then add garlic salt.

Mix up this delicious mixture while you salivate.  It is ready to serve!  As you can tell, this is a very basic, simple version.  But, I think it tastes fairly authentic.

Obviously, this makes a LOT of rice.  It would easily feed 4 people plus.  But leftovers are delicious!  You can make some as a side for dinner and save the leftovers for a delicious lunch the next day.  At least thats what I did.  🙂

Mezgaldi (Moroccan Onion) Sandwich

Lunch.  If you are like me, lunch is a dreaded word.  Its so . . .  curious.  I know exactly what to eat for breakfast.  Fruit.  Yogurt.  Granola.  Dinner involves protein and root vegetables whipped into sides.  Lunch is this strange meal in the middle of the day, when I am busiest.  And usually away from home.  So it has to be portable.  Ugh.  Lunch is such a drag.

If you are shaking your head in agreement at this point, I’m assuming you are also like me and resort to salads and sandwiches for your common lunch fare.  While I have nothing against salads and sandwiches, they can get a bit . . . mundane.  I decided liven up my lunchtime and take my Moroccan kick to the sandwich department.

I do not know what it is about Moroccan spice mixture that makes everything delicious, but I will not argue with it.  In fact, I’ve been slathering it on a lot lately.  This open-face sandwich takes the cake.  Essentially, it is just a layer of  neufchatel on crusty bread, topped with mezgaldi.

The topping is really what makes it great.  Mezgaldi is a Moroccan onion mixture.  Actually, it is commonly referred to as a “mezgaldi of onions”.  Basically, it is onion baked in a deliciously spicy marinade.  It has a nice kick, which is why I paired it with neufchatel cheese.  The cheese has a nice calming effect on the onion.  Neufchatel is very similar to cream cheese.  In fact, cream cheese or mascarpone would work well with this dish, too.

Mezgaldi is commonly eaten as a side or main dish.  I made quite a bit of it and had leftovers, so I decided to make it into a sandwich.  The recipe is from a fellow blogger, Kayotic Kitchen.  Make the dish and enjoy.  Use the leftovers for the sandwich for lunch the next day.  You will be happy I shared this with you.

Mezgaldi of Onions

4 medium-sized onions (I actually only used 3 larger ones)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
3 Tbs oil
2 Tbs water
1 Tbs sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice onions.  It is alright to have rather large slices of onion, especially if they are a sweet onion like Vidalia.  They will be roasting for a while, so its good to make slices approximately 1 inch thick.

Mix spices and oil together in a small bowl.  Brush this mixture on both sides of each onion slice.  Place onions in a baking dish.  It is fine to layer them, as, again, they will be roasting in the oven for a while.  Pour the leftover mixture over the onion.  Sprinkle the 2 Tbs of water down the sides of the baking dish.  This will allow the onions to steam in their sauce.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake approximately 45 minutes.  Onions will be done when they are soft.

Halfway through cooking, take the onions out halfway through the cooking process and spoon the sauce on the bottom of the pan back over the onions.  Then, sprinkle the sugar over the top of the onions to help carmelize them.  Make sure each onion gets a little sugar on top!  Cover up with the foil and cook until done.

Some people suggest cranking the heat for the last 10 minutes to help with carmelization.  If you do, I would suggest taking the aluminum foil off.  Enjoy!