Homemade Pita w/ Fattoush Salad

DSC_0254I honestly do not know a whole lot about Middle Eastern cooking, but I can tell you that I am always fascinated by it. I seriously can’t get enough of the entire Persian-style spread because it is always deliciously healthy and super flavorful. Normally, the cuisine consists of dishes that are prepared with herbs, vegetables, and rice along with meat, lamb, chicken or fish. Fresh herbs and vegetables are the main ingredients and make almost every meal especially wholesome. The traditional spreads, also called Meze, typically include one of my favorite salads I have ever tasted, Fattoush. Fattoush is a simple veggie salad (think tomato, cucumber and romaine) w/ a classic zesty spice and toasted pita bread crisps. The spice that I am referring to is called “Za’atar”, which isn’t very accessible in local grocery stores but can be made effortlessly right in your own home. My dear friend, whom happens to be Persian, told me her secret to homemade Za’atar and I have forever kept it on the forefront of my spice rack since she divulged her classified blend (which I will share with you shortly, you’re welcome). Za’atar is a classic blend of sumac, dried thyme and toasted sesame seeds. Sumac, though, is the ingredient that is most difficult to get a hold of. I couldn’t find it at Ralphs but had good luck at Whole Foods. (Trader Joe’s just came out with a exotic spice pack that includes one with Sumac! Yay for TJ’s!) Whole Foods sells the organic sumac and they also sell the already-made Za’atar blend, if you would like to go that route. Just wait until you try this magical spice concoction. It lends this tangy and herby flavor that you can not get from anything else (trust me I tried to find sumac substitutes all over the inter-web). I now have officially become obsessed with Za’atar and put it on almost everything; my avocado toasts, egg scrambles, hummus dips, and in lots of salads and vinaigrettes. You should also know, the following homemade pita bread recipe is not at all difficult to prepare and can be made in just 40 minutes flat! Not only can you taste the difference between homemade pita bread and store-bought pita, but you can actually see it! It puffs up perfectly and serves as an impeccable vessel for this salad or anything else you can imagine to be wrapped in it’s amazingness. I hope that this dish finds you in good company because it makes a lot and can serve up to eight people. Enjoy my friends! 

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Homemade Pita w/ Fattoush Salad

Serves 8


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Total Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr

For the Homemade Za’atar
  1. 1/4 cup sumac
  2. 1/4 cup toasted white sesame seeds
  3. 2 TBSP dried thyme
  4. 1 TBSP dried oregano
For the Homemade Pita
  1. 2 tsp active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup luke-warm water (not too hot)
  3. 2.5 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  4. 2 tsp sea salt
  5. 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
Fattoush Vinaigrette
  1. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  3. 1 tsp honey
  4. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp pepper
For the Fattoush Salad
  1. 1 cucumber, chopped
  2. 3 tomatoes on the vine, chopped in small quarters
  3. 1 red bell pepper, chopped, stem and rib removed
  4. 1 green bell pepper, chopped, stem and rib removed
  5. 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  6. 3 green onions, green and white parts, sliced thin
  7. 1 bunch mint, finely chopped
  8. 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  9. 2 cups romaine (1 bunch), shredded
For the Homemade Za’atar
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an empty and clean spice canister or glass jar. Set aside.
For the Homemade Pita
  1. In a large glass bowl, combine the yeast with water. Let sit for 5 minutes to dissolve. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil and stir until a scrappy dough is formed. Sprinkle some flour on a clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth (add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the surface or to your hands, careful not to work with too much flour, the less the better). Form the dough into a round disc.
  2. In another large glass bowl (or clean the one you just used), spread about 1 tsp of olive oil around the sides of the bowl with your fingers, making sure to go all the way up the sides. Add the dough ball to the bowl and toss the dough so that it is lightly coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or plastic wrap and let it rise anywhere from 30 minutes-1 hour or overnight in the fridge (it should double in size)* (see note).
  3. After it has risen, deflate the dough and turn it out to a lightly floured work surface again. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and flatten each piece into a round disk. Using a rolling pin, roll each of the 8 discs into thin circles (about 8″ wide and 1/4 inch thick). They won’t roll out to perfect circles and this ok, it looks more rustic anyways. Sprinkle with more flour if the pieces start to stick. Heat a lightly oiled cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lay a rolled-out pita piece onto skillet and cook for 30 seconds or until small bubbles start to form. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes on the other side. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes. The pita will start to puff up and visible char marks will show. Remove the pita from the heat and keep covered with a dishtowel until all the remaining pitas are cooked.
For the Fattoush Vinaigrette
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
For the Fattoush Salad
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well. Lastly, sprinkle the homemade Za’atar over the top of the salad (about 2 TBSP). Serve the salad in the homemade pitas immediately. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. I let my pita dough sit in the fridge overnight because I think the flavors develop so much better, but if you are short on time, allowing the dough to rise after 30 minutes to an hour should do the trick.
  2. This salad can be made up to a day ahead of time and stores nicely in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days.
  3. Store the pita breads in a ziplock bag for up to 4 days in the fridge. Reheat in conventional or toaster oven.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Orzo Pasta Salad w/ Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

DSC_0237For My Sara:

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten and the future worth living for.” 

As the summer is fast approaching, I know you probably have a ton of get-togethers, parties, showers, and birthdays to attend because, well, I do too. Summer is the time for celebrations and festivities and the warm sunny weather acts as a tiny bonus canopy for us to play under. One of the things I am most looking forward to is my best friend Sara’s baby shower. She is due in July to welcome her tiny baby girl, Rylee James. I could not be more excited, thrilled, overjoyed, elated and all the other synonyms for “so freaking happy” that exist. Sara is one of the most kind and compassionate women I know and her patience amazes me everyday. This little girl will grow up to be and incredible woman because of her kind mother. I feel nervous and anxious for the day she is born as I hope to be an important role model and guide in her life. I hope I get to see her as often as possible and that she will know she can always come to me for advice. I can promise that I will always be someone she can confide in I will always listen without judgement. She can tell me her secrets and I’ll swear to not to tell her mother (but I totally will Sara, don’t worry). I honestly can not wait to meet her. Rylee has a world full of love to come out to and she will be one blessed baby! 

So, because of these momentous occasions, I figured we all needed a good pasta salad recipe for the large crowd affairs. Who doesn’t love a perfect one-bowl dish that can serve up to ten people?? I know I do, but I am always looking for something different to bring to the table. After all, how many times can a girl eat that same old boring potato salad or those mayo-filled deviled eggs? It is time for a new side and it comes in the form of a delicious pasta salad with fresh herbs, sweet peas, crunchy kale, and crispy chickpeas all dressed in a sun-dried tomato pesto. This pasta salad is where it is at, people! It has incredible flavors that hit all over your mouth and will keep your friends asking you for the recipe. I am most definitely bringing this salad to my BFF’s shower and I can’t wait to share it. The sun-dried tomato pesto makes a lot so feel free to save a bit as a spread on sandwiches or for an accoutrement for cheese and crackers. You won’t want to lose any to the sink, that is for sure. I hope that the summer greets you all with love and friendship and that you spend your days counting your blessings, as I know I will. 

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Orzo Pasta Salad w/ Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Serves 10


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Cook Time
40 min

Total Time
1 hr

Cook Time
40 min

Total Time
1 hr

For the Crispy Chickpeas
  1. 1 15oz can Organic Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)
  2. 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp curry powder
  4. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  5. 1/2 tsp cumin
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1/4 tsp pepper
For the Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
  1. 1 7oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (use entire jar and oil)
  2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  3. 2 super packed TBSPs fresh basil, roughly chopped
  4. 1/4 + 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp pepper
For the Pasta Salad
  1. 1lb Orzo
  2. 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves sliced thin (chiffonade style)
  3. 1 cup fresh English peas
  4. 4 green onions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
  5. .75oz fresh mint, finely chopped (see note)*
  6. .75oz fresh cilantro, finely chopped (see note)*
  7. 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 1 tsp salt
  9. 1 tsp pepper
For the Crispy Chickpeas
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Drain and rinse the chickpeas a few times under cold water. Lay the chickpeas out on a paper towel and dry them. Add the chickpeas to a small bowl and drizzle the olive oil and add the spices. Stir to combine and then lay them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating them every 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
  1. Combine all the ingredients into the blender and blend for a few minutes, scraping the sides as needed, until fully combined. The pesto will be thick. Set aside.
Salad Assembly
  1. Cook the orzo per package directions. Drain and rinse and add to a large bowl. Add all of the tomato pesto to the warm orzo (about 1.5 cups). Toss well to coat. Add the English peas, kale, herbs and crispy chickpeas, toss to combine. To finish the salad, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Toss one more time and then place in an air-tight container in the fridge. Serve cold or at room-temp. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. This dish serves up to ten people as a side.
  2. Trader Joe’s sells their organic herbs in little plastic packages that weigh .75oz. Use the entire pack for the mint and cilantro.
  3. This salad can be made a day ahead before serving. I recommend drizzling a bit more olive and adding a little more salt and pepper (to taste) to liven the pasta up, if serving the next day. I like mine drizzled with a bit of Sriracha for some heat but that is totally optional.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Spicy Peruvian Paloma

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This heat wave in Southern California is pretty close to miserable. The real problem isn’t that it’s 95 degrees outside, it’s that it’s also 95 degrees inside our little home. For some reason, contractors and home builders around here must believe that us SoCal residents live so close to the beach that we would never need air conditioning. Im sure they thought, “that brisk ocean breeze should keep them cool?”…No. Not on days like this. Even our poor pup looks distressed. We all spread out from each other because you can’t possibly get too close for fear of immediate sweaty contact. We walk around with flushed cheeks and dry mouths and stare at each other with pitiable and tormented eyes. Please, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love where we live and feel so blessed to call this place home, but can’t a girl get a little AC?? I understand this all sounds so petty and actually pretty irrelevant when it comes to real problems, but hey, this is my little place to vent and when I am sticky and hot I want to complain…but just a little. Ok, I am done now. Mostly because I have found relief from this torridness and it comes in the form of a super refreshing cocktail. Kris and I frequent this particular delicious Peruvian restaurant in our little town and one of our favorite beverages is this signature cocktail called a “Peruvian Maid”, whose main ingredient is Pisco. Pisco is a Peruvian liquor and is made from fermented grapes. It is pretty high in alcohol content and has sweet tasting notes (think apples and grapes). Pisco is wonderful for mixing with other ingredients in cocktails yet also good on it’s own. I wanted to make a drink that took a little spin on the classic tequila Paloma (another one of my favorite summer time cocktails) and add something unexpected. A combination of two countries into one cocktail. Mexico and Peru meet in one glass (and fall in love!). Plus we had to add a little spice just for fun, because “heat” is the name of the game around here. I hope that you enjoy this as much as we did! 

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Spicy Peruvian Paloma

Serves 2


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Prep Time
5 min

Total Time
5 min

Prep Time
5 min

Total Time
5 min

Tools
  1. cocktail shaker
  2. .5oz and 1oz jigger (measuring tool)
  3. ice
  4. 2 bucket glasses
Ingredients
  1. 2 oz Pisco Porton (see note*)
  2. 2.5 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  3. juice of 1 lime
  4. 1 serrano, seeded and sliced thin (see note*)
  5. soda water
  6. grapefruit wedges, garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Prepare two bucket glasses with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine some ice with the Pisco, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and a few serrano slices. Shake well and pour over the ice in the glasses. Top each glass with the sparkling water and a grapefruit wedge for garnish. Cheers!
Notes
  1. If you can’t find Pisco near you, vodka or tequila would be excellent substitutions.
  2. Serranos are super spicy. I only used 5 very thin slices and it brought a lot of heat. If you are sensitive, one or two thin slices should do.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Toasted Oat Bran Pancakes w/ Red Berries

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I am sure you are aware of my love for Trader Joe’s and all that the little market encompasses. I honestly could go there everyday (I pretty much do) and never tire of it. There is just something special about it; every time you step foot into one it becomes this whole new experience rather than a mere grocery trip. I am obsessed with everything they sell there, as each item is more of a novelty instead of an elementary food item. They always make sure you are bringing something unique to the dinner table and I can’t help but adore that. One of my treasured spots in the store is the “New Item Shelf” where all their new provisions are showcased. I swear, it’s always like a scene from a movie, where bright lights shine down from the heavens and angels sing celestial music and it seems like you hit the edible jackpot. Oh, wait, is it just me? You don’t hear the angels? Like I said, I am ridiculously infatuated with this place. So, the other day, while in front of my favorite shelf, I noticed they had a new Toasted Oat Bran. I picked it up and put it in the cart, not knowing what I was going to do with it, but that it had an incredible destiny for my kitchen. After mulling over a few ideas, I decided on pancakes. Let me tell you, these pancakes are seriously the best pancakes I have ever made. The oat bran lends this subtle toasty nuttiness, which in my opinion, tastes so much better than pancakes made with white flour. They heat up fabulously too and never lose their fluffiness. I made a strawberry and raspberry compote to pile over the pancake stack, because who doesn’t love a warm and sweet stewed fruit topping? The best part is, the little beauties are vegan (dairy-free and egg-free) so you can enjoy them without any guilt! Enjoy my little breakfast eaters! 

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Toasted Oat Bran Pancakes w/ Red Berries

Serves 4


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Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
35 min

Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
30 min

Total Time
35 min

For the Pancakes

(dry)
  1. 1 cup Toasted Oat Bran
  2. 1/2 cup AP flour
  3. 2 tsp organic cane sugar
  4. 2 tsp baking powder, aluminum-free
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
(wet)
  1. 1 cup organic almond milk (plain or unsweetened vanilla)
  2. 1 TBSP coconut oil (melted in liquid form)
  3. 1 flax egg (1 TBSP flax meal mixed with 1/4 cup warm water) (or 1 egg white slightly beaten)
  4. 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, for garnish
For the Red Berry Compote
  1. 12 oz organic raspberries
  2. 1 cup organic strawberries, ends trimmed and cut in half
  3. juice from 1/2 lemon
  4. 1 tsp honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lay 1/2 cup walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until toasted. Once cooled, roughly chop the walnuts. Set them aside.
  2. Make the berry compote; add the raspberries and sliced strawberries to a small saucepan with the lemon juice and honey. Heat over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until the raspberries have cooked down. Set aside.
  3. Make the flax egg and place in the fridge for about ten minutes so it can set. In a large bowl, add all of the dry ingredients for the pancakes and mix well with a fork. In a small bowl, add all of the wet ingredients, minus the flax egg, and whisk to combine. Add the flax egg to the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients and mix until just combined with a spatula. Heat a skillet over medium heat and grease well. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop out the batter onto the pan and heat for 2-3 per side. Place the finished pancakes on a cooling rack and avoid stacking them too early (or they can become soggy). When ready to serve, stack the pancakes, and top with the berry compote and some chopped toasted walnuts. Enjoy!
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Caramelized Cremini Crostini

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There’s this little secret I have to share with you. It might not be news for you, as you may be one of the lucky people who has already found the enlightenment. This classified information really needs an opportunity to come out of hiding and straight into every home and kitchen to shine like gold. So, here I am to deliver the broadcast…are you ready? You sure?? (Of course you are sure, you are still reading aren’t you?) Caramelized onions are THE BEST way to enrich flavor to just about any dish. A simple and incredibly delicious meal enhancer at it’s finest! It takes just minutes to prepare and truly makes all the difference, trust me on this one. I often prepare caramelized onions/shallots in the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge in an easy open container for quick additions to salads, sandwiches, omelets, and pastas. This time, I had a few large shallots lying around and decided they would be absolutely fantastic with a leftover half-bag of Cremini mushrooms I had in the fridge. A perfect pairing to stack high up on toast with melty cheese and fresh herbs. An ideal appetizer for a party or gathering, if you ask me. You will soon learn how the caramelization process brings out the natural sugars in the onions/shallots. As they start to brown, a deep richness and subtle sweetness perfume the air and the depth of flavor is obvious (and imminent). One of my favorite parts about this particular flavor enhancement is that it isn’t full of calories, like most seasonings are. Some would argue that bacon, for example, makes everything better. But, I would argue, caramelized onions are one step ahead (whilst being vegan, super low in fat, and high in fiber!). So move over bacon, there’s a new sheriff in town! 

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Caramelized Cremini Crostini

Serves 4


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Cook Time
20 min

Cook Time
20 min

Ingredients
  1. half of one baguette, about 10 slices
  2. 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 5 oz Cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  4. 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  5. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  6. 1/2 tsp pepper
  7. 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  8. 5 oz Cambozola cheese (or any soft blue or gorgonzola cheese you like)
  9. 1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
  10. 1 TBSP chopped fresh chives
  11. red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with about 1 TBSP olive oil. Bake for about 8 minutes and then set aside.
  2. While the baguette slices are baking, heat 2 TBSPs of extra-virgin olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot slices, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss for about a minute. Add the Cremini mushrooms and sauté all together for about 10 minutes, continually stirring to avoid burning. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss together for one more minute and then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Top each baguette slice with a bit of the shallot/mushroom mixture and then a slice of Cambozola on top. Place back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chopped fresh parsley and chives over the top. Option to sprinkle red pepper flakes. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Double for the recipe for an easy party appetizer!
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/