Mid-Summer Israeli Couscous Salad

If you were a Moroccan housewife planning a family meal, in all likelihood it would include couscous. This inexpensive yet highly nutritious food, often thought to be a grain, is actually made from wheat. Rich with religious and symbolic meanings, the making of it traditionally is a female activity during which prayers are said invoking blessings and prosperity.
It is a very time consuming, labor-intensive task involving much hand labor: sifting, rolling, and re-rolling again and again until granules of similar sizes appear. Then it is sun dried and stored until its time of cooking. Fortunately most of us can simply purchase it at any grocery store in its ready-to-cook form at any time and its popularity rapidly continues to increase in the food world.
As in many other countries it is served differently from one area  to another. My favorite way is simply hot with a little oil or butter and onion salt. However guests who had it at last weekend’s dinner theatre with many added seasonings and various vegetables and herbs as we are showing it today said it was the best ever!
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Mid-Summer Israeli Couscous Salad
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
45-55mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, and lemon peel in small bowl and put aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until most of couscous is godlen brown, about 5 minutes. Add broth, incease heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the pot, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender (about 10 minutes). If couscous is not fully cooked and seems dry, add more broth by tablespoonfuls until couscous has cooked all the way through.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Add remaining garlic, onion, bell pepper, and zucchini and sauté until tender (about 3 minutes).
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to large bowl and add chopped mango.
  5. Add couscous to bowl with vegetables and mango. Drizzle with dressing and toss with chives and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

French Onion Soup

Recently a friend drove me to a medical appointment. As we left to return home she asked, “How about lunch?” This had not been in the plans but it was lunchtime and a nice suggestion so I said, “Sure.” The next question was what did we feel like having: a burger, a taco, pizza, Chinese? None of them moved either of us, so I offered another idea, “Further on there is a nice little French bakery that serves lunch, if you wouldn’t mind driving an extra bit.”

Within minutes both of us were savoring the richest flavored onion soup out of individual black wrought iron pots overflowing with melted cheese and boasting a gorgeous golden crusted crouton. Almost simultaneously, we both had the same thought: Why don’t I ever make this at home? Within days she made it for her family and the convent sisters served it for two different retreats. In each case it met with overwhelmingly positive responses.

How long has it been since you served French onion soup?

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French Onion Soup
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1hour, 45 minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
2hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, slowly brown the onions and garlic in butter and sugar until the onions are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add flour and cook, stirring for 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Add stock or consommé and water, and simmer partially covered for 1 hour.
  5. To serve, place a small slice of French bread on top of each bowl, and cover generously with Swiss cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then bake covered at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.

“Torta di porri” (Leek Pie)

If you visit any one of Tuscany’s Trattorias, you will most likely find this on the menu as a “contorni” or side dish. Leeks, parmesan and a light sprinkling of nutmeg — all the flavors of Northern Italy combine to make this savory pie a wonderful addition to beef or veal. This past weekend, we served this as a side to Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Vinegar to our Oblates on retreat. As we venture into Lent, this meatless side dish could actually become a main dish for lunch. It’s one of my favorite recipes to share with you. Our prayers are with you for a very blessed Lent.

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"Torta di porri" (Leek Pie)
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
20-30minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 1/2hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make your pastry and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for an hour before rolling out.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pastry into a 8" pie plate and blind bake it. Click here for instructions on blind baking a pie crust.
  3. Prepare your filling. Strip away any damaged tough parts of the leek and top extreme ends, and slice the leeks into thin slices.
  4. Put them into a bowl of cold water and swish them with your hand to remove any dirt remaining. Transfer to a colander to drain.
  5. Put the olive oil into a saucepan to heat and add the leeks. Saute gently to soften, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. When the leeks become lightly golden, add the wine and continue cooking over low heat until most of it has evaporated and the leeks are softened. If the leeks are still hard and the wine has evaporated, add 1 cup of hot water and saute for another 10 min. or so until the leeks are soft and there is only a little liquid left in the pan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool slightly.
  7. Lightly whip the eggs in a bowl and add the cream, parmesan cheese and a dash of nutmeg. Add the cooled leeks and stir well. Adjust seasonings if needed.
  8. Pour the mixture into your par-baked crust, shifting the leeks evenly with a wooden spoon.
  9. Return the tart to the oven for about 20-30 min. until the top is lightly golden and the filling is set.
  10. Cool slightly and slice into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini and Tomato Bake

This is a glorious time of the year for garden lovers. 5:30 am finds sisters weeding, tilling the soil and harvesting “fresh from the earth” vegetables. We have been enjoying beautiful varieties of lettuce, scallions, snow peas and chard for a while, and now zucchini and yellow squash are rapidly rolling in every day.

One of our enterprising Sisters turned out a quick and easy way to prepare a zucchini dish that met with lots of happy responses from the Sisters at last night’s dinner. Who would not love their vegetables prepared like this? Beautiful to behold! Scrumptious to eat! You absolutely must give this prize winner a try and there could not be a more perfect time to do it than right now.

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Garlic Parmesan Zucchini and Tomato Bake
SERVINGS
4-6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
35 minutes
PREP TIME
15-20minutes
READY IN
50-55minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray 8 x 8 or 9 x 11 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Sauté onions in 1/2 c oil. Add sautéed onions and the additional 1/2 c oil to the rest of the ingredients, except fresh basil or parsley, and mix well before baking.
  3. Transfer to a prepared baking dish and bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Check for doneness with a fork or knife after 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve hot/warm.

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Festive Asparagus Frittata

Easter! A day of joy! A day of celebration! That’s why we have been planning a festive Easter Sunday brunch this year. And that’s why we have been experimenting with a number of fresh new ideas to make this an uplifting meal of praise and thanksgiving that will set the tone for the week ahead.

One of the new dishes we put together is a colorful asparagus fritatta. This starts with a tasty potato and onion crust that is filled with a mixture of eggs, cheese, and bacon bits, and then topped with fresh asparagus spears, strips of zucchini, and colorful peppers. To dress it up we garnished it with a couple of crisp bacon curls. We were very pleased with its appearance and we loved its combination of flavors. It is definitely now on our menu, and I am almost certain once it has made its debut in the convent on Easter Sunday it will return for many repeat performances in the days ahead — not only as a brunch or breakfast dish, but as a lovely spring lunch or light supper.

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Festive Asparagus Frittata
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
65minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Drizzle oil over the base of a 9 inch quiche dish, then spread with onions and top with potato slices.
  2. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until potato is tender.
  3. Steam asparagus until tender.
  4. Arrange asparagus spears and red pepper and zucchini strips like the spokes of a wheel onto top of potato, then pour over eggs and season with black pepper to taste.
  5. Scatter with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until frittata is firm.

Simple Summer Salad

Sometimes simpler can be better. This is true with many things including food.  Complex cooking with multi- layers of flavor and texture has its place,however combining just a few select foods can sometimes take ones breath away. Such was the case with a lunch we served last week to some visiting bell ringers.

Our change ringing bells bring many bell ringers here from many places to hone their ringing skills. They come for different lengths of time and are often here for meals. Most of them prefer healthy foods. All of them love our fresh garden vegetables especially our salad bars. Right now when eggplant and tomatoes are at their best we put them together in a simple salad that almost made itself. Together with a few special seasonings this dish kept many of them coming back for just one more helping all through the meal. This dish along with some crusty  French or Italian bread and a favorite cheese, if desired makes a most satisfying lunch or light supper. Two important tips to insure the best flavor – use very ripe tomatoes and serve the combined ingredients at room temperature NOT chilled.

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Eggplant Parmesan
SERVINGS
4-6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
40mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut the eggplant and tomatoes into cubes and salt both generously with onion salt.
  2. Toss eggplant with 1/2 cup of oil and spread out on parchment lined pan. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden. Let Cool.
  3. Grate onion and add to tomatoes stir and leave at room temp.
  4. When eggplant is cooled to room temperature combine with tomatoes.
  5. Add oregano and place in serving dish. Sprinkle with olives and finely chopped basil.
  6. If desired top with grated cheese. This combination of ingredients is perfectly flavorful as is but if a little more tartness is preferred sprinkle with a splash of vinegar.