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If you haven't noticed already, I love sesame.  Love might actually be an understatement, "am obsessed with" might be closer to the truth.  I would rather have something with sesame in it for dessert than chocolate.  In fact, when Emma and I found a sesame bar recipe in Nawal Nasrallah's book Delights from the Garden of Eden, I felt like I was in heaven.  I could make sesame bars instead of brownies for the rest of my life!  Anyway, though it is not a new discovery, it truly is a constant in my life and I wanted to share- Tahini Salad Dressing.  In the Winter, I exchange my lettuces and salad greens for kale.  I found a great salad mix at Whole Foods that is kale already chopped up and ready to eat, which is perfect for meals when you are in a time crunch.  I make a tahini dressing by mixing tahini with a touch of olive oil, lemon juice, water, and salt.  I don't have a direct recipe for this, because I just sort of mix it all together in a small bowl.  It is usually equal parts tahini and water, then a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, and coarse sea salt. I also might add a teaspoon or so of Braggs Liquid Amino Acids, which is a great substitute for soy sauce.  I toss together the kale, sliced avocado, fresh pomegranate seeds, chickpeas (canned or sprouted), and thinly sliced red onion, and dress with the tahini. It is also really rich, and full of healthy fats.  I love the combination of flavors and textures that all of the ingredients provide, and the health benefits.  Sesame is full of calcium and protein; the kale is of course a great source of vitamins A, K, and C, and is full of fiber; the pomegranates are full of powerful antioxidants; and the avocado is another great source of fiber and vitamin C, and also has lots of potassium.  This is a powerful health salad that not only combats inflammation and oxidative stress, but also boosts your nutrients.  You know I will be eating this all Winter long.  

Blog entry

The other day I was at The Foragers Market in DUMBO (a really lovely place), and I found black chickpeas. The label on the bag said Kabuli Chana, and I got even more excited, because I thought that these chickpeas were Afghan. However, when I looked into the matter, it turns out that the normal chickpeas that I always eat are actually kabuli chana, and that the black ones are called kala chana. These chickpeas have a tougher shell, and hold together well in stews, but I made a dark speckled hummus regardless. I also included some black garlic, which is a fermented garlic that has an incredible smoky/salty flavor. This detail was lost in the end result, so I would just use regular garlic next time for the pungency, and save my black garlic for crostini. I am going to play around with these black chickpeas some more, but here is a photo of the dish, which follows the same recipe as our Traditional Lebanese Hummus.


This is a very healthy vegetarian dish full of Mediterranean flavor. Freekeh is wheat that has been harvested while still very young, and thus is very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has a slightly smoky flavor due to the way the wheat is processed after harvest, so it pairs well with mellow flavors, such as beans and chicken. This recipe calls for cooking the beans from scratch, but you can also use canned garbanzos for a faster version.

For the Garbanzos:

½ cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked at least 4 hours

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic

1 sprig thyme

a few black peppercorns


For the Pilaf:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup yellow onion, small dice

¼ cup carrot, peeled, small dice

¼ cup fennel, small dice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

pinch of cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup freekeh, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes

2 cups vegetable broth


Short Sauce:

1 ½ cups fresh cilantro, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 cup parsley, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 sprig mint, leaves roughly chopped

½ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)

For the Garbanzos:

Drain the garbanzos of their soaking liquid.
Place in a medium sized pot and cover with about 3 cups fresh water. Add the rest of the ingredients (you can place them in a bouquet garni bag if you want) and bring the water up to a boil. Simmer until the garbanzos are cooked through. Drain, remove the aromatics, and set aside.

To Prepare the Pilaf:
Heat up the olive oil in a medium sized pot. Sweat the onion, carrot, fennel, and garlic until the onion and fennel appear translucent. Add the spices and a pinch of salt, and stir for another minute or two. Drain the freekeh of its soaking liquid and add it to the pot. Stir everything together so that the freekeh is well integrated, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring gently. Pour over the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for 30 minutes. Add the garbanzos and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the wheat is cooked through. Keep in mind that these are wheat berries, so they will have a slightly chewy texture and will not be completely soft.

Make the short sauce by blending all of the ingredients together until coarsely chopped, you do not want a smooth puree. Spoon a bit of the sauce into the pot and stir to combine. Serve while warm.

Serves 4. 

This Freekeh and Garbanzo dish is healthy and incredibly delicious. We cook freekeh in a base of carrots, onion, and celery, and then at the end we stir in a "short sauce" of herbs and pine nuts.

We came up with this dish one night when all that was in the fridge was a jar of Turkish zeytin ezmesi (olive paste).  Its texture seemed similar to that of pesto, and the results were note-worthy.  This is not so much a recipe, as it is instructions on how to make this delicious pasta dish.  The dark and delicious olive paste is like a poor man's squid ink, but not without being fierce competition. 

To put this together, simply boil 100 g of whole wheat rigatoni per person in boiling salted water for the amount of time indicated on the package. 

Before you drain the pasta, scoop about 1 cup of cooking water from the pot.  Drain the pasta of its water and transfer back into the pot.  Slowly moisten with about 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid, and stir in about 1/4 cup of Turkish olive paste (zeytin ezmesi).  Stir to combine, adding more liquid or paste to have a nice, smooth sauce, without it being too runny.  Season with red pepper flakes and top with Parmesan or Pecorino for serving. 

You can purchase Zeytin Ezmesi from

This pasta is so easy to throw together because it involves very few ingredients. The flavor is like an exclamation point. We chose whole wheat rigatoni for its robust texture, but you can use linguine as well.

This salad is called the Gypsy salad because it is a melange of flavors, textures and ideas from around the world.  Blood orange, arugula, and fennel from Europe mix with jalapeno and avocado from Mexico.  Cumin, mint, and dates from the Middle East come into play as well.  Many of these ingredients, like dates, have traveled from their origin, and are now part of new cultures.  It is like us, a gypsy that never stops traveling.  The measurements are not exact, we trust that you add how much you want of each ingredient, and enjoy the journey that it takes you on.



1 fennel bulb, trimmed and outer layer removed (if bruised)

1 handful of baby arugula

1 handful of dates, pitted and sliced in quarters

a few kalamata or Moroccan black olives, pitted and sliced

1/4 of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 avocado, halved and pitted

1 sprig of mint

Small handful of parsley

a handful of fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

2 blood oranges (you can substitute regular oranges or cara caras here also)

1 lime (kaffir limes welcome!)

1-2 Tablespoons sherry or rice wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of cumin and salt


Slice the fennel in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice each half horizontally.  Transfer to a bowl and combine with the arugula.

Add the sliced dates and olives. 

Thinly slice the jalapeno.  If you are sensitive to heat, finely mince it, but if you like more of a bite, slice it in small horizontal strips.  You only need a 1/4 of the pepper or so.

Roughly chop or tear the herbs and add to the bowl. 

Keep the avocado meat in the skin and score with a knife in long vertical slices.  Use a spoon to get under the meat and scoop out the slices over the salad bowl. 

For the dressing, zest the oranges and the limes with a zester or microplane over the salad bowl.  You will only need a little bit of the lime zest and about 1/2 of one of the orange's zest.  Slice off the top and bottom of the oranges, removing the skin and pith.  Next place the oranges, one at a time, on the cutting board and slice off the skin and pith (without going to deep!) to reveal each segment.  Working over another small bowl, slice out each orange segment carefully, allowing the juices to fall into the small bowl, and then add the segments to the larger salad bowl.  When you have finished slicing the oranges, squeeze out any excess juice into the small bowl.  Juice the lime into the bowl as well.  Stir in the cumin, vinegar, and olive oil and whisk to combine (you can just do this with a fork). 

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. 

Add the crumbled walnuts. 

Serves 2. 

This salad works as an appetizer, but it also goes beautifully on top of grilled fish like tuna or mahi mahi, or atop a grilled chicken breast. 





This salad combines the rich artichoke flavor of boiled sunchokes, with the crunch of the raw sunchokes.  The dressing is a simple French-style vinaigrette that we toss with the 'chokes when they are still warm.  Brussel sprout confetti adds texture and color, and the sunflower seeds add crunch. 

For the Salad:

2 cups sunchokes, peeled and boiled until tender (about 4-5 large pieces)

1 cup sunchokes, peeled and rinsed

3-4 brussel sprouts
½ shallot, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, lightly toasted

For the Vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider or white wine vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper (four pepper blend or white pepper are recommended)

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice. Season with salt, and then slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking all the time.
Season to taste.

Meanwhile, boil the two cups of peeled sunchokes until just tender, about 10 minutes.
Drain and slice in thin rounds. Slice the remaining 1 cup of raw sunchokes in the same way. Immediately mix with the dressing. Add the shallots and seeds.
Peel the outer leaves off the brussel sprouts, then grate or thinly slice, to create the “confetti” shreds. Add to the salad and toss.
Makes a side for 4 people.


1 cup red grapes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

Prepare the grapes by slicing them in half.
Heat up the olive oil in a saute pan, and add the garlic.
When the oil is nice and hot, add the grapes and saute briefly for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat and add in the rosemary.
When the cut sides of the grapes are slightly brown and the grapes have cooked in their own juices a little, you can turn off the heat and add them to your desired recipe.


Toasted bread
1 clove garlic
2 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle salt

Slice the garlic in half. Rub the cut side over the pieces of toasted bread.
Grate the tomatoes using a cheese grater and whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt until it tastes the way you like it.
Spoon a little bit of the tomato mixture over the slices of bread and serve.

This tomato dish really shows off the best of the tomato. We grate fresh heirlooms and stir in olive oil with a pinch of salt. We spoon it on top of crusty bread that has been rubbed with garlic. You will be amazed at how strong the garlic comes through in this dish, even though it is just rubbed on top of the bread lightly.

Peaches are a great texture to include in Latin recipes in the summer, as their texture is a good substitution for mango. And although they are sweet, they have a nice acidity that makes them go well in savory recipes also. The juices of the peaches and vegetables in this salsa mix together with the vinegar and oil to create a delicious mixture that is irresistible. We love this on grilled fish, with chips, or alongside quesadillas. It is best made 100% local.

2 ripe peaches, medium dice
¼ cup cucumber, peeled, medium dice
¼ cup red onion, small dice
2 spring onions (white and pale green parts), thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, medium dice
1 tsp. jalapeno pepper, minced
Small handful of fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and parsley
Rice Wine Vinegar
Splash of Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Toss all of the peach, tomato, cucumber, onion, chile, and herbs together in a bowl. Pour in the vinegar and oil, and season to taste with salt.
Makes about 2 cups.
Fun additions: halved ground cherries, scallions, colorful bell peppers, and mint!


This is the basic equation for a healthy and delicious chickpea salad. You can use a nice quality olive oil and a variety of vinegars to dress it. It looks lovely when served on individual pieces of Romaine or in Butter Lettuce cups.

1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 medium tomato, medium dice
1/4 cup red onion, medium dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
Freshly chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper

Mix together the chickpeas, tomatoes, red onion, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar or lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

And possible variations . . .
Mexican: diced avocado and chopped cilantro, minced jalapeno pepper, chopped peach or mango
Moroccan: freshly chopped mint, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, minced preserved lemon.
Italian: Capers, anchovies, basil, sage.

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as an appetizer.