It's the rare cookbook that encourages the reader not just to cook differently but to think differently about food. In this stylish collection of recipes, Berley (The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) introduces a practical approach to flexitarian-or part-time vegetarian-eating. Given the confusion most of us face when it comes to our diets, flexitarianism, with its healthful emphasis on grains, lean proteins and beans, is an appealing one. He has developed a series of "convertible" recipes, main courses that work equally well meatless or meat-full. There's delicate choice of Baked Fish or Ricotta Dumplings, either of which is served over French Lentils; a hearty Gratin of Cherry Tomatoes and White Beans can be served with sardines. Throw in two or three side dishes like a salad of Mâche, Pea Shoots with Baby Beets, or Soba with Garlicky Spinach and Sesame Oil, and it becomes a satisfying meal in which no one feels shortchanged. Organized by season, the menus are cross-cultural and appealing. The recipes, while sophisticated, require only moderate experience in the kitchen. Berley's savvy tips on technique and flavor-pairing make this an affable and informative guide for any chef-regardless of diet affiliation. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone inBetweenby Peter Berley
Today a single family can include staunch vegetarians as well as passionate meat lovers. When company shows up, the situation gets even more complicated. How can you satisfy them all without making two (or three) completely different meals?
In The Flexitarian Table, the award-winning author Peter Berley presents menus that are flexible, exciting, relaxing to… See more details below
Today a single family can include staunch vegetarians as well as passionate meat lovers. When company shows up, the situation gets even more complicated. How can you satisfy them all without making two (or three) completely different meals?
In The Flexitarian Table, the award-winning author Peter Berley presents menus that are flexible, exciting, relaxing to prepareand that make everyone feel welcome. With The Flexitarian Table, you'll no longer treat vegetarians as afterthoughts by offering them a couple of scanty side dishes, and you'll be able to indulge meat eaters at the same time with abundant, satisfying dishes.
You'll learn how to prepare vegetarian and meat versions simultaneously without going to any extra trouble. Roast a succulent, crisp chicken with lemon and thymeand make a tofu version in just minutes. Put some meaty portobello mushroom caps on the grill and, for the carnivore contingent, throw on a steak, then pair them both with a zesty bread crumb salsa. Simmer white beans with carrot and celery and sauté some shrimp, drizzling each with the same rich brown butter sauce with fresh herbs.
You'll find many sumptuous vegetarian dishes as well, including cannelloni with ricotta, Parmesan, and mint or a hearty lasagna with roasted fall vegetables in a sage-scented cheese sauce. Or serve up a selection of easy little dishes and let your guests choose.
You'll get plenty of ideas for get-dinner-quick meals such as winter tomato soup with goat cheese crostini and Spanish-style fried eggs, and for luxurious weekend fare try cumin-spiced lamb croquettes and falafel, served with two traditional Middle Eastern sauces and whole wheat pita bread.
The Flexitarian Table also shows you how to cook with the seasons so you get the most flavor from your ingredients while you enjoy varied, sustainable meals year-round.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read an Excerpt
Introduction What’s a Flexitarian?
Since I’m the former chef of the all-vegan Angelica Kitchen in New York City and teach vegetarian cooking classes, it sometimes surprises people to learn that I eat not only fish but also poultry and meat. Mind you, I’m not a passionate carnivore: my diet is primarily plant-based, but it does include some fish and meat, preferably sustainably caught or raised. Aside from a few months during my teens, I’ve never been a strict vegetarian. My way of eating is becoming so common that a new word has even been coined for it: “flexitarian,” a union of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.” While my wife, Meggan, and I are flexitarians, my older daughter, Kayla, is a strict vegetarian. Almost from the moment of her birth, though, my younger daughter, Emma, was constitutionally different from her sister. Kayla always insisted on vegetables, but Emma wanted chicken, fish, or meat too. In a lot of households, the majority of the family eats meat while one vegetarian member subsists on side dishes or else requires entirely separate, “special” meals that are hard on the cook. Putting together a meal that our whole family could enjoy together was important to me, so I felt determined to cook delicious, wholesome meals that could accommodate Kayla and Emma’s different food preferences.
I began building meals that were flexible enough to suit all of us, improvising as I went along. I’d serve a quick seared tuna as an optional add- on to a salad, along with hard-cooked eggs and beans, or I’d crumble some bacon so that anyone who wanted some could sprinkle it over their greens. Gradually I devised other meals that were slightly more elaborate, without requiring much more work in the kitchen. I discovered that I could often use meat and vegetable proteins interchangeably to create two dishes similar in flavor, texture, shape, and color. Many of the recipes in this book, such as Crispy Pressed Chicken/Tofu with Garlic and Mint and Portobello Mushrooms/Steak with Bread Crumb Salsa, come out of the years when the girls were growing up.
Through decades of cooking as a personal chef and caterer, I’ve honed my approach while creating everything from lavish dinners celebrating meat, wine, cheese, and pastry to everyday meals for families with eating habits even more divergent and varied than my own family’s. This book is a culmination of my thirty-year experience.
The menus that follow are not strictly one thing (vegetarian) or the other (meat-based). Some of them reflect get-dinner-on-the-table nights, like White Beans/Shrimp with Brown Butter, served over Soft Polenta. Others are slow vegetarian food made to be supremely satisfying to everyone.
Many of the recipes are “convertible,” so you can prepare a vegetarian and a meat version simultaneously without going to extra troubleyou just separate the ingredients into two bowls or pots before you incorporate the protein. Typically they make two to three servings each, so you end up with a meal for four to six. Not everybody feeds two vegetarians and two meat eaters at each meal, of course, but when some diners are flexible eaters and only one or two are vegetarians, most people are happiest if they can try both options, reserving a little more of the meatless dish for the vegetarian contingent. This way of cooking is very conducive to sharing. And if everyone has the same leanings and wants to eat, say, all chicken, all beef, or all tofu, you can easily convert the recipes to a single option by doubling the meat or the vegetarian version.
I’ve arranged the menus by season to reflect the pleasures of eating produce when it’s at its best and prepared by methods suited to the time of year. Eating with the seasons and relying on what grows, swims, and grazes within a 500-mile radius (the standard definition of “local”) requires determination, passion, andlet’s be realisticcompromise. Even those of us who have the resources and desire to support local farmers are likely to rely on a great deal of conventionally grown food that has been trucked long distances. But adding seasonal foods to your shopping basket is a way to lessen your dependence on fossil fuel and to support small farmers. It’s also a great way to get the most flavor from your cooking without resorting to complex sauces and fancy techniques.
All the recipes in this book stand on their own, and I hope you’ll use them outside of the menus as well, preparing them individually and mixing and matching as you see fit. If you’re planning in advance, you might choose to shop for a whole menu, but on a night when you have come home with some especially bright, tight-headed broccoli or when there’s not much in the house except a caan of beans and a handful of tomatoes, check the index to find a recipe to use what you’ve got.
This book is all about inclusion: incccccluding people who eat in different ways, including different ingredients, and including great taste and good nutrition in every menu. It’s about relationships and respecting the different needs of everyone who comes to the table and making them all feel welcomed and richly provided for, however they choose to eat. Whether you’re tentative in the kitchen and need to rely on the explanations of techniques that I include in my recipes, or you cook a lot and are interested in new ideas and new combinations, whether you’re cooking for vegetarians or for meat eaters, or for both, I hope this book will encourage you to be open to food and expect a cuisine that offers health and pleasure in equal measures.
Summer MENU 6 SERVES 4 Seafood/Tofu Ceviche with Quick-Pickled Red Onion Zucchini-Rice Soup with Basil and Parmesan These recipes make it easy on the cook and are cooling to eat. The zucchini soup can be served warm or at room temperature, in the Mediterranean style, and the zesty ceviche, which you can make with fish or tofu or both, is served chilled, so think of this light yet sustaining combination for scorching nights.
THE PLAN 1. Marinate the onions.
2. Cook the soup.
3. Meanwhile, marinate the seafood and tofu.
4. Make the ceviche.
Seafood/Tofu Ceviche with Quick-Pickled Red Onion SERVES 4: 2 SERVINGS FISH, 2 SERVINGS TOFU Ceviche, which essentially uses a brief pickling technique, is a South American coastal approach to raw fish. The fish is tossed with an acid, usually citrus juice, which quickly renders it opaque, as though it had been cooked. Whereas mixing raw fish with acid firms its flesh, when you mix raw tofu with acid, its texture begins to break down and soften. Giving both fish and tofu the ceviche treatment means the two proteins end up with a similar pleasing texture.
If you soak the hiziki as soon as you start cooking this dish, it will be ready to toss in by the time the ceviche is prepared. Sea beans, also called samphire, are a fresh, crunchy, twiglike green sea vegetable with a briny taste. If you come across them, they can be substituted for the dried hiziki.
Always confirm with your fishmonger that the fish you’re using can be eaten raw (any labeled “sushi-grade” is good to go, but there may be other options).
When you’re working with raw fish, cold is key. Keep the fish in the refrigerator for all but the minute you spend rinsing, drying, and chopping it.
Note: Double the amount of fish or tofu, if you like, to serve just one version to your guests.
PICKLED ONIONS 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt 3/4 cup very thinly sliced red onion
SEAFOOD 8 ounces skinless fluke fillets (or other mild white-fleshed fish, such as flounder, red snapper, or black sea bass), any thin dark central portion removed, cut into 5-inch cubes, or sea scallops, halved, or quartered if large
TOFU 8 ounces firm tofu, rinsed well, gently pressed dry, and cut into 5-inch cubes 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 23 limes) 3 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably naturally brewed 2 plum tomatoes, cored, halved lengthwise, seeded (see page 102), and diced 2 medium Kirby cucumbers, peeled if desired, seeded (see page 22), and cut into 5-inch cubes 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cored, quartered, ribs removed, peeled if desired (see page 131), and thinly sliced crosswise 1/4 cup hiziki (see page 87), soaked in 1 cup warm water for 15 minutes 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed if desired, minced, or to taste 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Freshly ground black pepper 1 head Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves Sea salt or kosher salt 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced crosswise into 5-inch slices Toasted sliced sourdough bread, for serving
FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS: Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar and salt. Place the onion in a narrow jar and pour the pickling liquid over it. Cover, shake well, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
TO MARINATE THE SEAFOOD/TOFU: Place the seafood and tofu in separate bowls and pour 3 tablespoons of the lime juice over each. Add 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce to the tofu and toss well. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce to the seafood and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Drain the onions, reserving the pickling liquid.
Divide the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell pepper between the bowls of ceviche. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved onion marinade to each bowl.
Drain the hiziki, rinse it well, and then drain thoroughly. Toss half the hiziki into each bowl of ceviche. Divide the cilantro, jalapeno, and olive oil between the two bowls, season with pepper, and toss well.
Make a bed of lettuce leaves on each of four plates and season the lettuce lightly with salt. Top the lettuce with the ceviche. Garnish with the avocado, and serve with sourdough toast.
Zucchini-Rice Soup with Basil and Parmesan
SERVES 4 TO 6
This easy, delectable Italian soup is made from water rather than stock, so the flavor of the garden-fresh vegetables shines through. You might think that the recipe calls for an enormous amount of zucchini, but the watery vegetable nearly melts, thickening the surrounding broth. Besides, there’s so much zucchini around this time of year! For a pretty, summery look, I like to use a mix of zucchini and yellow summer squash.
I think the sweet, subtle flavor of this soup is best appreciated when it’s warm, rather than piping hot. For anyone who doesn’t eat cheese, sprinkle on a pinch of extra sea salt instead of the Parmesan.
Tip: To grate large quantities of a hard cheese, cut the cheese into chunks, place it in a food processor fitted with the regular blade, and pulse until the cheese is pulverized. While the texture will be slightly different than if you had finely grated the cheese by hand, it will sprinkle and melt just as well, and the processor method takes a fraction of the time.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 large onion, finely chopped Sea salt or kosher salt 1-1/2 pounds zucchini (or half zucchini and half yellow summer squash), cut into 5-inch cubes 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (68 cloves) 4 cups water 1/3 cup basmati rice 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus additional thinly sliced leaves for garnish 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving Freshly ground black pepper
In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and toss well.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the water, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the rice and basil, return to a boil, and simmer, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Stir in the cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with sliced basil leaves. Pass additional grated Parmesan at the table.
Summer MENU 10
Spicy Roasted Pepper Soup with Goat Cheese and Chives Whole Wheat Pita Bread Spiced Lamb Croquettes Falafel Two Traditional Sauces: Hot Sauce (Zhoug) and Sesame Tahini Sauce Cucumber, Red Onion, and Tomato Salad
If you love a falafel sandwich, you’ll find this menu is transporting. The soup makes it a full meal, and the sauces and fresh pita elevate each bite far above the falafel stand. Serve everything together, or serve the soup separately as a first course. Diners can assemble their own pita sandwiches, adding falafel or lamb, salad, zhoug, and tahini sauce as they wish.
Making pita is easy, even if you’re normally shy about baking bread (and the actual baking takes mere minutes). The soup and sauces can be made ahead. Form the falafel and lamb croquettes in advance, then cook them right before serving. The salad can be tossed together in minutes, and the baked pita kept warm. Feel free to make substitutions, using a bottled hot sauce, substituting hummus or yogurt for the tahini sauce, and/or warming up some good purchased whole wheat pita. The soup, falafel, and lamb will still be a treat.
Note: Double the falafel recipe if meat eaters will want some too, or if you’re serving six vegetarians. Or double the lamb and leave out the falafel.
THE PLAN 1. One to 2 days ahead, prepare the dough for the pita. Up to 1 day ahead, soak the chickpeas. 2. Make the zhoug and refrigerate. 3. Make the tahini sauce and refrigerate (bring to room temperature before serving).‘ 4. Make the soup (reheat before serving). 5. Make the falafel and lamb mixtures and refrigerate. 6. Shape the pitas and let rest. 7. Bake the pitas. 8. Prepare the salad. 9. Cook the falafel and lamb.
Spicy Roasted Pepper Soup with Goat Cheese and Chives
This satisfying soup is spiced up with a little fresh chili pepperI like to use a moderately hot, fruity chili, such as a ripe red jalapeno; remove the seeds and veins for a milder flavor. The color is essentially an aesthetic decisionif only green jalapenos are available, they will be fine. The goat cheese rounds out the flavor of the soup, making it truly luxurious.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped 6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole 1 tablespoon finely chopped red chili pepper or 5 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste 1 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably toasted and freshly ground (see page 12) 1 teaspoon ground fennel, preferably toasted and freshly ground 1 teaspoon sweet paprika Sea salt or kosher salt 3 large red bell peppers (about 2 pounds), roasted (see page 160), peeled, seeded, and chopped 4 cups water Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 5 cup) Snipped fresh chives, for garnish
In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, chili or red pepper flakes, cumin, fennel, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook, adding a tablespoon or two of water if the vegetables begin to stick, until the garlic is meltingly tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the bell peppers and water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, until smooth. Rewarm if necessary before serving.
Season the soup with the lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve topped with the crumbled goat cheese and chives.
Roasting Peppers Bell peppers, fresh poblanos, Anaheim chilies, and even large jalapenos can be charred until their skins blacken and blister, covered tightly so they steam as they cool, and then peeled. This process rids the pepper of its tough, sometimes bitter skin and brings out the flavor of the flesh, as well as adding a slight smokiness.
To roast a whole fresh pepper on a gas stove, use tongs to turn the pepper over the flame until well charred all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover with a plate, and let steam for about 15 minutes to loosen the skin. Remove the skin with your fingers or a damp towel, then cut the pepper open and pull or cut away the seeds and veins (wear rubber gloves when handling chilies to avoid a burn).
To roast more than one pepper, I prefer to cut the peppers into large pieces that will lay flat on a baking sheet, remove the stems and seeds, and then broil them skin side up, watching and rearranging the peppers as needed, until they are well charred. The steaming method is the same as above.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
MAKES 6 PITAS
These fluffy rounds are best the day they are baked; however, they can be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to a month. Defrost them without unwrapping, then rewarm in a 350-degree oven.
The dough benefits from an overnight rise in the refrigerator; the slow, cool rise develops the bread’s flavor. But you can skip this step if you like and let the dough rise at room temperature for about an hour, or until doubled in size, then shape the pitas and bake them.
This recipe calls for a pizza stone; using a stone is a great way to get a nice crust if you bake often. Pizza stones are available at kitchenware stores; clean unglazed quarry tiles, sold at flooring or hardware stores, can also be used. Or you can simply preheat a cast-iron griddle or an overturned baking sheetthe sturdiest you havein the oven and use that.
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast 1-1/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees) 1-1/4 cups whole wheat bread flour, plus additional for dusting 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt About 1 tablespoon olive oil About 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Place the yeast in a large mixing bowl and stir in the warm water. Let stand until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Add the whole wheat flour and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours. The batter should have lots of bubbles on the surface and should appear lacy and weblike when stirred.
Stir in the salt and 1? teaspoons of the oil. Mix in enough white flour to form a ragged mass of dough.
Scoop up the dough and transfer it to a clean work surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, adding additional white flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, shiny dough that is only slightly tacky.
Smear the inside of a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag with a teaspoon or two of olive oil or use a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bag or bowl and seal or cover. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 2 days.
About 1 hour before you plan to bake (note that once the dough has been shaped into balls, it needs to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour), place a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently shape it into a 12-inch-long log. Cut the log crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball, dust lightly with whole wheat flour, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
With a rolling pin or an empty wine bottle, roll each piece of dough from the center outward, rotating it a quarter turn with each roll, into a 6-inch round. Place 3 rounds of dough on the pizza stone and bake for 5 minutes. The pitas will puff up. Transfer them to the top oven rack and bake for 2 more minutes. Remove the pitas from the oven and cool for a few minutes, then wrap them in a clean towel to keep them warm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Serve warm.
Spiced Lamb Croquettes
SERVES 3 TO 4
These lemon-and-cumin-seasoned lamb patties get nice and crisp outside but stay moist and fragrant within. Here is a good place to use up a last serving of leftover cooked rice. In the event that there isn’t any leftover rice around, cook some upyou’ll need L cup uncooked rice. But why not make an entire pot and use the rest for another purpose (such as the fried rice on page 280)?
12 ounces ground lamb 1/2 cup cooked rice, preferably basmati or jasmine, at room temperature 1 large egg 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley 1 garlic clove, finely chopped Finely grated zest of 5 lemon 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably toasted and freshly ground (see page 12) 1 teaspoon ground coriander, preferably toasted and freshly ground 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish smoked paprika or sweet paprika 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt Olive oil, for panfrying
In a large bowl, combine the lamb, rice, egg, cilantro or parsley, garlic, lemon zest and juice, spices, and salt and toss until just combined. Divide the mixture into 12 even portions. Gently form them into balls, and press down on them to form ½-inch-thick patties.
Line a platter with paper towels. Heat a large skillet over medium- high heat for a minute or two, then pour in ⅛ inch oil to heat until it shimmers. Add the patties, working in batches if necessary, and fry, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on the paper-towel-lined platter and serve hot.
Falafel is crispy, nutritious, and addictive. The baking soda in this recipe not only lightens the finished falafel, but also makes the chickpeas more digestible. Because the beans are never boiled, it’s up to the soda to break down the indigestible phytic acids in the skin.
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped 3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and drained (see page 9) 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably toasted and freshly ground (see page 12) 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, preferably toasted and freshly ground 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1-1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste 4 grinds black pepper 46 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
In a food processor, pulse the cilantro or parsley until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and pulse until they are finely ground (they should have the consistency of cracker crumbs). Add the lemon juice, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, coriander, baking soda, cayenne, and black pepper and pulse to combine. The mixture should hold its shape when squeezed. If not, process for a few more seconds. Transfer to a large bowl and toss well.
Fill a medium heavy saucepan or a Dutch oven with at least 3 inches of oil, attach a deep-frying thermometer to the side of the pot, and heat the oil to 360 degrees (the temperature will drop when the falafel is added but should never dip below 350 degrees). Line a platter with paper towels.
Moisten your hands and divide the falafel mixture into 12 equal portions (about 2 scant tablespoons each). Form each into an oval about 2 inches long and ½ inch thick, moistening your hands as needed while you work.
Fry the falafel a few at a time, turning halfway through, until well browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to the paper-towel-lined platter to drain. Return the oil to 360 degrees before adding each batch. Serve warm.
Hot Sauce (Zhoug)
MAKES 5 CUP
This Israeli hot sauce will perk up both the lamb and falafel. It has a fresh, full flavor in addition to its peppery heatwhich you can adjust by choosing to include the seeds and veins of the chilies or not. It’s a simply made food processor sauce, best prepared within a few hours of serving.
1 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped medium-spicy chili peppers (about 2 peppers), such as red and/or green jalapenos or serranos 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons) 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sesame Tahini Sauce
MAKES ABOUT 16 CUPS
Tahini, Middle Eastern sesame paste, is sold in jars in Middle Eastern and natural food stores and many supermarkets. It should be stirred well before using, as it separates easily. Once opened, tahini keeps best in the refrigerator. If you’ve had your tahini for a while, taste it to make sure it’s fresh, without any bitter aftertaste.
Leftover sauce is great served as a dip with vegetables and pita bread.
3/4 cup tahini 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons) 1 garlic clove, mashed with 6 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt (see page 286) 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste 3/4 cup water
In a bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic paste, and cayenne. Whisk in the water until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl. The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Cucumber, Red Onion, and Tomato Salad
MAKES 3 CUPS
This chopped salad is more than an optional flourishtucked into the pitas, it is an essential fresh counterpoint to the falafel or lamb.
2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and chopped 2 plum tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped 1 small red onion, chopped Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, toss together the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Copyright © 2007 by Peter Berley. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
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