Mint and Egg Salad
Serves 4 as appetizer or side dish.
Note: To hard-cook the eggs, place them in a steamer basket over a small saucepan with a few inches of water in it. Bring to barely a boil over medium heat; cover and steam for 12 or 13 minutes, then transfer the eggs to an ice-water bath to sit for at least 6 minutes. Drain and peel. Adapted from “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life,” by Emily Kaiser Thelin.
• 4 eggs, hard-cooked (see Note)
• 1 to 2 c. packed, slivered mint leaves
• 2 bunches green onions (white and light-green parts), thinly sliced (at least 1 c.)
• 2 tsp. mild red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo
• 2 tbsp. fruity extra-virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• Flaked sea salt
Use the large-holed side of a box grater to grate the eggs over a large mixing bowl. Add the mint, green onions and red pepper flakes, tossing to incorporate.
Whisk together the oil and lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended. Drizzle this over the egg mixture and toss to coat evenly. Season lightly with the salt. Serve right away, or refrigerate briefly until lightly chilled before serving.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 160 Fat 12 g Sodium 75 mg
Carbohydrates 5 g Saturated fat 3 g Total sugars 2 g
Protein 7 g Cholesterol 190 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat protein, 1 ½ fat.
Megadarra (Lentils, Rice and Fried Onions)
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: This dish has all the richness and aroma of steak au poivre, thanks to a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and oniony oil. Be advised that the fried onions may not crisp up when they’re made on a humid day. But they will still taste terrific. Serve with Turkish Yogurt Sauce (see recipe). The thinly sliced raw onion needs to dry out for 1 hour. The fried onions need to rest at room temperature for 1 hour before using. Adapted from “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life,” by Emily Kaiser Thelin.
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1 1/2 c. dried brown or green lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
• 4 c. water, plus hot water as needed
• 1 c. long-grain white rice (uncooked)
• 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• Flaked sea salt
• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• Crumbled dried mint leaves, for garnish, optional
• Mild red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo, for garnish, optional
• Turkish Yogurt Sauce (see Recipe), optional
Line a baking sheet with a clean dish towel.
Use a sharp knife to cut the onion from top to bottom into 1/8-inch slices. Gather them in a separate clean dish towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Spread them in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Let sit for 1 hour, at room temperature.
Meanwhile, combine the lentils and water in a saute pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes; at this point the lentils should still be slightly firm.
Place the rice in a colander and rinse under cool running water until the draining water runs clear. Shake to drain well.
Add the rinsed rice to the lentils, along with the black pepper and a pinch of salt. If the liquid level in the pan doesn’t cover the rice-lentil mixture, add just enough hot water to make that happen. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice and lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool for a bit.
Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire cooling rack on top of it.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add an onion slice to test the temperature; if the onion sizzles on contact, add the rest of the slices and fry for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat so that the onion doesn’t burn. They should become a rich golden brown.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the wire rack; season right away with a pinch of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour, so the fried onions can drain and dry/crisp up.
Use a long fork or chopsticks to fluff the rice-lentil mixture, cover partially and let stand till the onion is ready.
Add half the fried onions and their cooking oil to the rice-lentil mixture. Stir gently to incorporate. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
To serve, use the chopsticks to fluff that mixture once more, then transfer to a large platter, mounding it. Scatter the remaining fried onions on top, along with the dried mint, if using, a sprinkling of the salt and the red pepper flakes. Serve with Turkish Yogurt Sauce, if desired.
Nutrition information per each of 8 servings without yogurt sauce:
Calories 325 Fat 14 g Sodium 110 mg
Carbohydrates 41 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 1 g
Protein 11 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 7 g
Exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1 carb, 1 lean protein, 2 fat.
Turkish Yogurt Sauce
Serves 12 to 16 (makes about 1 1/2 cups from Greek yogurt and 2 cups from regular yogurt).
Note: Cookbook author Paula Wolfert learned to make this sauce in Turkey, designed for drizzling on grilled vegetables and meats as well as grain dishes or the Megadara recipe here. It is truly better than the typical quick yogurt sauce, and it is not difficult to do, but it does require time for draining and flavor infusion. You’ll notice that water is added later to the drained yogurt; this will make it creamy and help it accept the other flavors. Cheesecloth is needed. The plain yogurt needs to drain for either 10 to 20 minutes (if Greek) or 1 to 2 hours (if regular and full fat). The yogurt with garlic mixture needs to mellow for 1 hour at room temperature. The assembled yogurt sauce needs to be refrigerated for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight. Adapted from “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life,” by Emily Kaiser Thelin.
• 2 c. plain Greek yogurt or 1 quart regular plain yogurt
• 3 garlic cloves
• Flaked sea salt
• Up to 1/2 c. water
• Pinch sugar, optional
• Up to 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, optional
• Pinch mild red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. crumbled dried mint leaves, plus a few fresh mint leaves, for optional garnish
• 2 tbsp. olive oil, for garnish
Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Spoon the yogurt into it and let drain (see Note); it should reduce to the consistency of a thick sour cream. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
Use the flat side of a chef’s knife to crush the garlic. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and mash to form a paste.
Whisk the water into the drained yogurt a few tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Whisk in the salted garlic 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting along the way. If the mixture becomes acrid, stir in the optional pinch of sugar. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Add the lemon juice to taste and the red pepper flakes, then season lightly with salt and black pepper. Whisk in the dried mint. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or up to overnight. Just before serving, drizzle the oil over the yogurt and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons:
Calories 45 Fat 4 g Sodium 60 mg
Carbohydrates 1 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 1 g
Protein 1 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 fat.