Firinda Mücver (Baked Zucchini with Onion and Parsley)

Mücver is something I loved when I was growing up. Well, I still love it. It is usually fried and served with yogurt but there are ways to get the taste without the frying part… My mom used to do FIRINDA MüCVER as ‘diet’ food. She would go on to these diets, fairly strict ones and eat very little, to similarly very little long-term effect on her weight. One of the things she used to eat was this dish. I prefer to eat it because it tastes delicious (it is somewhat one-dimensional and bland but it accompanies other dishes well and the one-dimensioned taste is a solid one if you like zucchini and onions) and not because it is considered ‘diet’ food. It sure doesn’t scream diet food, given the delicious taste and it goes well with pretty much any kind of protein you maybe having. A salad alternative or a color splash on the plate. Either way, it is goooood.

There are recipes out there for Firinda Mücver and this is my version… I first did this based on what I remember from watching my mom and talking to her about it. Then I morphed it over the years to make it become what I want…

Firinda Mücver (Baked Zucchini with Onion and Parsley)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini, grated (food processor makes this very quick)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz. grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of mild cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup unbleached white or wheat flour (you may not need all of it. You can use garbanzo bean flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely minced (or a generous pinch if using dried)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch dish.

Grate the zucchini using the food processor and then handling one handful at a time, squeeze the juices out and place them drained zucchini in a large bowl. Add the onions, eggs, cheese, baking powder, the flour and the parsley and combine well. This may be a bit of work and the consistency won’t be runny at all but it works (zucchini will release some additional water in the baking process so while the mixture may look like it needs moisture, trust me, it doesn’t).

Season with salt (a generous pinch), pepper (less generous one) and red pepper flakes (generously) and dill, if using and mix well.

Transfer the mixture into the greased dish, using a spatula to spread an even layer.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. If not browning after 45 minutes, broil for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Serve hot or cold.

Makes 12, 3-inch square servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Arugula and Watermelon Salad (with Goat Cheese or Feta)

There are a million arugula salad recipes on the web. I asked myself… Do we really need another one? Well, I think we do. If I browse the recipes I find, I see that most are drenched in oil and cheese. Well, with that much oil and cheese – topped with watermelon – any old crap will taste great. How about making something healthy out of it, without sacrificing the taste? That was the idea of coming up with this particular recipe. I did a version of this 2 weeks ago and another version this week. I like this week’s version better so here is the recipe…

Arugula and Watermelon Salad (with Goat Cheese or Feta)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tbsp honey (1.5 tbsp if the arugula is from a farmer’s market since organic ones tend to be sharper)
  • 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 2 cups watermelon, diced to chunks and loosely packed
  • 4 oz goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes (OPTIONAL)

Prepare the vinaigrette by first combining the orange juice, lemon juice, honey, shallots with a whisk and then drizzling the olive oil in as you whisk to form an emulsion. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, watermelon, mint and the cheese. Coat with the vinaigrette and toss well. Adjust salt and pepper. If you’d like, you can dress it up with cherry tomatoes as you serve.

Makes 6 servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Arugula Watermelon Salad Nutrition Facts

Gruyere and Kalamata Olive Bread

OK, if you are looking at this, you are looking for trouble. This is an easy recipe and it is a great company to grilled meat dishes and it is high in fat content. If you like Gruyere and olives, at least try it once to see why you should not be baking this often. You have been warned (but it is so good, especially when fresh).

Gruyere and Kalamata Olive Bread

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, for greasing pan
  • 1 and 3/4 cups  All-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 c mayonnaise (I make my own fatty mayo but you can use fat free or low fat off-the shelf ones)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp Kalamata olives, pitted, chopped

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch glass loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, egg and milk. Fold the wet mixture into the dry until just combined. Fold in the cheese and olives.
Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until golden and firm, 45-50 minutes. Let bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and over turn onto a wire rack. Cool 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 10 servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Gruyere Olive Bread Nutrition Facts

Curried Garbanzo Bean, Eggplant and Zucchini Summer Stew

Summer bounty can be redirected into this dish for a healthy meat alternative… Great for lunches at work or a mid-course or a side dish. I made this for the first time this year and I expect that I will keep making it through the fall and winter, using different type of vegetables as the seasons change.

 

 

Curried Garbanzo Bean, Eggplant and Zucchini Summer Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped to small cubes
  • 1 medium squash, chopped to small cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped to small cubes
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 or 2 hot chile, dry (I put whole lot more for myself)
  • 1 14-oz can of garbanzo beans, with all the liquid or 2 cups made from dry
  • 1.5 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish (OPTIONAL)

Heat the peanut or vegetable oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and golden; 15 minutes.

Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the eggplant, squash and zucchini and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook for 7-10 minutes until the veggies re somewhat tender (not really).

Stir in the garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, chile and a few pinches of black pepper. Cook for a few minutes and then pour in the garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, coconut milk and the 2 tbsp of the cilantro.

Raise the heat to medium high and bring the stew to boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer for 1520 minutes until veggies are wilted but not dead (too soft).

Serve it in bowls, with jasmine rice or something and sprinkle generously with the remaining cilantro and the optional coconut shavings. Makes 6-8 servings. Here are the nutritional facts (without rice):

Chicken, Almond and Apricot Savory Pie

Interesting and somewhat out of the ordinary side dish for a brunch or lunch, this pastry works well to complement egg dishes and/or salads with tangy vinaigrette. I make this about once a year. I think it is a bit dangerous to do it often (high fat content) so thread carefully. It surely looks pretty.

Chicken, Almond and Apricot Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped to small cubes
  • 3 fresh or 1/4 c dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • 12 sheets of phyllo dough
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh chives, chopped for garnish

Put the bulgur in a bowl with 1/2 cup of boiling water; set aside to soak 5-10 minutes.

Heat two tablespoons of the butter in a pan and gently saute the onion and chicken until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, almonds, bulgur and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the cinnamon, allspice, yogurt and the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch oven-safe dish, with olive oil or canola oil. Melt the remaining butter.

Unroll the dough. Keep the pastry sheets covered with a clean, damp towel to avoid drying.

Line the dish with six of the sheets, brushing each one with butter as you layer them. Spoon in the chicken mixture and cover with six more pastry sheets, brushing each layer with butter as you go. Bake the pastry for 30 minutes or so (no more than that), until pastry is golden brown and crisp like in the pictures here.

You can serve this hot or cold. Dress up the slices with chives. Makes 6 generous servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

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