Mediterranean Feast (in collaboration with Imperfect Produce and Pereg)

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This has quickly become a favorite meal in our house. One question I’m always asked is “Do you eat everything you feature?” The answer, of course, that’s what we do, and because it is very difficult to cook and shoot just for two. We typically have leftovers and this Mediterranean meal is excellent even after a few days when all of the flavors have melded.

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The first time I tried Mediterranean cuisine was at small family-run restaurants in our little German hometown of Esslingen am Neckar. I can still remember tasting my first döner kebap; I had just arrived in Esslingen to visit Jason who was there for two months working on a project. Since it was my first time traveling internationally, I was incredibly jet-lagged, but he insisted we drop off my luggage at his tiny rented room and head back into town to get something to eat. He had been telling me about this wonderful spot called Konuk, a pretty famous little mom and pop Turkish restaurant that served a very authentic, hand-made version of the famous street food. I instantly fell in love with the combination of fresh crisp salads, creamy yogurt sauce, and savory marinated beef.

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Over the next few weeks, I must have eaten more than a dozen döners, and sometimes I would walk past early in the morning and see the chefs stacking the vertical spit with layer upon layer of marinated steak, spices, and then top it off with thinly sliced onions and a large tomato. As it would turn, large red-hot burners would roast the outer layer until it was crisp, then skillfully shaved off for customers and by the early evening the 100 or so pounds of fresh beef would dwindle down to a spindly, slowly roasting sliver, now meltingly tender, the aroma beckoning passers-by to stop in for a quick meal.

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Next, I discovered more delicious Mediterranean specialties at a little place called Metropol who offered the most delicious hand-made falafel and yufka. Over the time we lived there we would visit these and other places nearly every week, and although since moving back we haven’t found a place for Euro-style döner, we did find amazingly good Mediterranean food at a place called NafNaf. Since it’s a bit of a drive we have tried unsuccessfully to make our own hummus and falafel, but it never turned out right and certainly didn’t taste as good as the real thing. Lately, I have been reading a bit more about traditional recipes and methods and I think I have finally cracked the code. Now we can enjoy our very own Mediterranean feast right at home!

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We try to eat healthy without sacrificing flavor and have found chicken shawarma to be an excellent alternative to red meat. Along with shawarma, a simple Israeli salad of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and fresh parsley add cool, crisp flavors while thinly slice onions dressed with bright, citrusy sumac and radicchio tossed with olive oil lend an awesome crunch an awesome crunch. A freshly whipped bowl of hummus seasoned with zahtar and steaming hot, crispy falafel serve as a starch making pita or yufka optional.

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While this meal has many components, the prep work and cold salads can be made a day ahead of time, along with soaking and pre-cooking the dry chickpeas. A little help from Pereg prepared spice blends makes it easy to nail the delicate spice profiles exactly, and the result is about as close in flavor to the real thing as you can get without a passport.

Makes roughly 16 falafel

2 cups dry chickpeas
2 large onions, quartered
3 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 medium jalepeño, seeded and diced
2 T. Pereg falafel seasoning
1 C. Fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2-3 cups vegetable oil of your choice for frying for frying, I like to use sunflower.

Sort through dry chickpeas, rinse well then soak overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain well, then combine chickpeas, onions, garlic, jalapeño, and parsley to the bowl of a large food processor. Blend the mixture for 30-40 seconds until coarse but starting to come together. Add the Pereg falafel seasoning, salt, pepper, baking powder, and baking soda. Pulse for another 10 seconds to bring together. Use a small ice cream scoop or a spoon to portion the dough into balls, all roughly the same size for even frying.   Preheat oil in a 3qt saucepan to 375’F. Once the oil is ready, cook falafel in small batches of three and cook until golden brown and crispy (roughly 4-6 min). Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Hummus with Zahtar
8 oz. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight then drained
6 C. water
1 C. chickpea liquid reserved
1/4 C. tahini
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. Pereg zahtar seasoning
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 T. olive oil

Cook chickpeas in a pressure for 1 hour at high pressure, or simmer on the stovetop for 2-1/2 hours or until tender. Drain the chickpeas reserving one cup cooking liquid. Chill the peas until cool then place in a food processor. Add tahini, garlic cloves, sea salt, olive oil, and zahtar and blend until well combined. Add reserved cooking liquid a little at a time while blending until smooth, approximately 3-4 minutes. Chill well and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of zahtar.

Chicken Shawarma
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
6 tsp Pereg Shawarma seasoning
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 T. Aleppo pepper flakes (Amazon)
1/4 C. olive oil
2 lg. white onions, quartered
2 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven 425’F
Add the first six ingredients to a freezer bag, making sure to thoroughly combine ingredients to evenly coat the chicken. Marinade for 4 hours, combine with onions and then roast in the oven for 30-40 mins or until they begin to brown slightly. Remove from oven and thinly slice chicken/onions, then return to oven to cook an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven, rest briefly then sprinkle with a handful of chopped parsley. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Israeli Salad
1/2 English cucumber, finely diced
1/2 lg. red onion, finely diced
4 small tomatoes, finely diced
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 T lemon juice
Salt to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl and chill before serving.

Radicchio Salad
1/2 small head of radicchio, thinly sliced
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp olive oil

Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl and chill before serving.

Sumac Onions
1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
2 tsp. Sumac

Toss onions and sumac together in a small container, shake to coat evenly then chill until ready to serve.

Products featured
Imperfect Produce
Cuisinart Elite Collection 2.0 14 Cup Food Processor 
REVOL Catalan Bowl in Cast Iron 
REVOL Catalan Bowl in Pepper
REVOL Equinoxe Coupe Plate in White Cumulus 
REVOL Equinoxe Individual Bowl Solid in White 
REVOL Rectangle Baking Dish

2 thoughts on “Mediterranean Feast (in collaboration with Imperfect Produce and Pereg)

  1. Pingback: Festin mediterranéen. Falafel, hummus et poulet Shawarma maison.

  2. Pingback: Mediterranean Feast, A Cook's Canvas. Imperfect Produce, Pereg, REVOL

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