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Herbed Feta Walnut Spread

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Herbed Feta Walnut Spread

Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 8 as an appetizer

Inspired by: A Persian friend of mine made this for a party and I loved all of the flavor nuances in it. I believe this is a combination of her recipe and others I’ve read on the web and then my own refinements. The Persian name for this spread is nan-o panir-o-gerdu.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound feta cheese
  • 2 cups shelled walnuts (Whole Foods or Trader Joes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh scallions – chopped
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil  – chopped
  • 4  tablespoons fresh mint – chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pita bread or lavash (soft or crunchy) or raw veggies

Preparation:

  • Chop scallions and basil and mint leaves by hand or in your food processor. Don’t chop too fine. Remove from food processor.
  • Don’t clean food processor – toss walnuts in and whirl until finely chopped.
  • Add the feta to the nuts and chop/blend the two.
  • Then add garlic, pepper, lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and mix well.
  • Taste and then add salt if needed and add additional olive oil for flavor and texture – but if you like the thicker consistency, don’t add too much oil.
  • Remove mixture from food processor and hand mix with the scallions and herbs.

Note: I saw an identical recipe recently that also included 2 tablespoons of tarragon.

Serve with: Use as a dip with cut up pita bread or raw vegetables, or as a spread on lavash or crackers.

Wine Suggestions: The herbs in the spread pair well with herbal, aromatic whites such as a Spanish Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc  – although many Sauv Blancs will be too herbatous or grassy and that could take away from the beautiful delicate flavors in the spread. If you are going for a Sauvignon Blanc, a White Bordeax is probably your best option. A Grüner Veltliner could also be a good option or any light crisp white such as an Albarino, Chablis or a light White Burgundy.


Ginger Chicken Lettuce Cups

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Ginger Chicken Lettuce Cups

Ginger Chicken Lettuce Cups

Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Inspired by: Yummy flavors of ginger-infused meals in so many Asian-style restaurants. I read about ten “ginger-chicken” recipes one day and then used the one I liked the most (by blogger Joey Randall – The Village Voice) because it seemed to be the healthiest. I may have modified it slightly.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger (fresh)
  • 1-3 gloves crushed garlic (fresh)
  • 3 tablespoons organic soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced red pepper
  • 1 cup sliced yellow pepper
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 1 cup broccoli in very small pieces
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 (8 oz) can diced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • Butterhead lettuce (like Boston or Bibb) for 4- 6 servings

Recipe:

  • Cut chicken into thin strips.
  • Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and cornstarch. Pour over chicken to marinate while prepping vegetables.
  • Heat wok or large skillet. Pour in olive oil and heat. Remove chicken from marinade and carefully add to pan. Cook until tender – about 5 minutes.
  • Pour marinade over chicken. Add the veggies. Cook 3 minutes or until sauce slightly thickens, stirring often.
  • Remove from heat. Add almonds.
  • Spoon 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken mixture into lettuce leaf and roll up.

Wine Suggestions: An aromatic white that is slightly off-dry will work well with the ginger and spice of this dish. We drank a dry, 2006 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner and while it’s one of my favorite Grüners with beautiful aeromatics, I think a fruiter or slightly-off dry wine would have been a better pairing. Here are a few suggestions starting with off-dry and ending with dry.

  • Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc (California)
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling (Washington)
  • Slightly off-dry Riesling (Germany or Austria)
  • Torrontes (Argentina)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (California or New Zealand)
  • Grüner Veltliner (Austria)

Green Drink

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Time: 10 minutes

Serves: Approximately 3, 12-15 oz portions

Inspired by: I’ve always loved the idea of a green drink for an on-the-go snack, but never thought they were all that appealing to actually drink. I was wrong! I think this one tastes fresh and delicious. Chia seeds will thicken it and add protein, or you can add some protein powder as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small piece of ginger – peeling not required (size depends on how much you like fresh ginger)
  • 1 piece of a Jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Chia seeds or 1-2 scoops of pea protein powder
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 cucumber (approximately 10 inches long by 1.5? diameter – I prefer English or Persian cucumbers and keeping the skin on)
  • 2 green apples with cores and seeds removed (or red apples or peaches if you prefer sweeter)
  • 1 bunch parsley (with stems)
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach

Preparation:

After washing everything, set the blender to “liquefy” and add the first 6 ingredients. Once they are blended well, add the celery, cucumber, apples or peaches and blend again. Then add the greens a bit at a time until they are blended well with the rest of the liquid.


Padrónes – Sautéed or Grilled

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Time: 5 minutes once sauté pan or grill is hot

Inspired by: My friend, Dan, grows these in his garden plot nearby. He put some on the grill at a dinner party several years ago. I couldn’t believe how delicious they were.  My local Whole Foods market carries them in the summer as well. They make an easy, delicious, simple and healthy appetizer. Their cousin, the Shishito Pepper, is a nice alternative and almost always mild. I think Padrónes are more flavorful, and while they are often mild, they can also be quite spicy. It’s usually a surprise!

Ingredients:

  • Padrón peppers – rinsed and dried well

Preparation:

  • Toss in olive oil with a bit of salt, put them on a hot grill for a few minutes and then turn over for another few minutes.
  • Alternatively, toss with a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium to high heat for 4-8 minutes.

Wine Suggestions: Gruner Veltliner or another crisp white is a good option. When they are spicy a Riesling is an even better pairing.


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