Sunday, September 18, 2011

Snap Peas With Ginger and Garlic

Ginger and garlic, one of heaven's pairings. This time, I used them to make a quick lunch, combining them with snap peas, tamari sauce, and sesame oil.

Most soy sauces have wheat in them, so you have to choose a wheat-free soy sauce, which is often labeled "tamari" in the American market. But that doesn't mean all tamaris are gluten-free; in fact, I have seen some that contain wheat. Make sure your bottle of tamari explicitly says "gluten-free."

Do these snap peas look a little wrinkly? That's because, once cooked, they are! If you see photos of cooked snap peas that look perfectly green and smooth, then they're stylized, not real. Just like people, real ones have some wrinkles!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stuffed Grape Leaves

In my last post, I said that if you are presented with the simple sauteed insides of a zucchini, then you should know that something more complicated is not too far away. So here it is, stuffed grape leaves (waraq 'inab) with stuffed zucchini.

This is a labor intensive dish, especially because my family does not make it with ground beef like most people do. Instead, we are among the minority of Arabs who cut the meat by hand into tiny, bean-sized pieces (which takes a bit of time), and then mix it with rice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and spices. If you're including zucchini, you must also hollow those out.

Then comes the actual stuffing and rolling of each leaf (about 150 for a large pot), and the filling of the zucchinis. As you make a batch of rolled leaves, you carefully line them up in the pot. This is not so bad when there are 2 or 3 people working together, but because I insist that I prepare every detail of everything featured on this blog, I took on this endeavor by myself last weekend. Needless to say, it was a long Saturday night. But I hope you enjoy the photos of my efforts. :)

The potatoes you see are used to line the bottom of the pot so that the bottom layer of grape leaves doesn't get stuck. They are optional, and if you don't use them, then this dish is totally nightshade-free.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lib al Kousa

Arabs have a thing for stuffing leaves and vegetables, one of the most common being zucchini. And when you hollow it out, you're left with a bunch of zucchini (kousa) insides (lib), which you sautee in good olive oil with diced onion, garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Also included is a zucchini that didn't make it through the hollowing process intact.

Sure, it looks simple, and it is, but it's also healthy and delicious. And do know that whenever you encounter this humble dish, it signals that something more sophisticated is not far away. But that's for the next post.