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:

Cherry and Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

This is a Fine Cooking magazine recipe that seems complicated but it is not. It does take time but there are no tricks. You may want to have another set of hands to help with the rolling and wrapping of the tenderloin with the kitchen twine. Yep, twine is necessary.

I served this with rice with dill and onion, cabbage salad with roasted sesame seed, barbunya and gruyere kalamata olive bread… With much smaller than the recommended servings of everything, it made quite a nice dinner, I have to say. This dish can be the whole dinner if you’d like. The servings are very very generous and the protein is great. It makes a great lunch too. Just don’t overcook the pork.

Cherry and Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, 3 tbsp
  • Medium yellow onions, 1-2 thinly sliced
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice, 6 tbsp
  • Balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp
  • Granulated sugar, 2 tsp
  • Freshly grated orange zest, 1.5 tsp
  • Fresh sweet cherries, 1.5 cups (about 8 oz.), pitted and chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pork tenderloins, 2 of them  (about 1 lb. each), trimmed
  • Ground cloves, 1/8 tsp
  • Dry white wine, 1/2 cup, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Lower-salt chicken broth (preferably homemade), 1 cup
  • Fresh rosemary, 1 tsp minced
  • Unsalted butter, 2 tbsp, cold, cut into small pieces

Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the orange juice, vinegar, sugar, and orange zest, reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue to cook until the onions are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes more. Uncover and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes more. Add the cherries and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Meanwhile, butterfly the pork by slitting each tenderloin lengthwise just far enough that it opens like a book to make a flat piece. Place the pork between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper and pound gently with a meat mallet to flatten it to a 3/8-inch thickness. In a small bowl, mix 1 Tbs. of the olive oil, the ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Rub the mixture on both sides of the pork and season generously with salt.

Divide and spread the cherry mixture evenly over the tenderloins and roll them back to their original shape. Tie them with butcher twine at 1-inch intervals.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a tenderloin reads 145°F, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil.

Set the skillet over medium-high heat, add the wine, and deglaze the pan by scraping up the cooked bits with a wooden spoon. Boil to reduce the wine by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and rosemary, bring to a boil, and reduce by about half, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter one piece at a time, letting each melt before adding the next. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the strings from the pork and slice it into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Serve drizzled with the sauce. Serves 6-8. Here are the nutritional facts based on 6 servings:

Vegetable Musakka

If all vegetarian dishes tasted this good, I would not think twice about giving up chicken. That statement is a cop out and really annoying to some people but I mean it. This is a great dish. A bit high on the calorie count because of the frying of the eggplant plus the carb content but it is also well-balanced for protein. Even if you are skeptical, trust me and try this once and you will be hooked.

Note: I haven’t taken any pictures of this dish. Will remedy that next time I make it.

Vegetable Musakka (Vegetarian recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb eggplant (one large, or two smaller), cut to 1/2 inch slices
  • 4 oz green lentils, 4 oz
  • 2 and 1/2 cup vegetable stock (preferably homemade, low or no salt version of off the shelf)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz, oyster or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 14-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14-oz can, diced tomatoes,
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste
  • 2 tsps Herbes de Provence
  • 1 and 1/4 cup non-fat yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a deep bowl water, soak the eggplants with salt for 30 minutes. Put a plate on top to help soaking.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, simmer the stock with lentils and bay leaf for 20 minutes. Drain.

Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a saucepan. Sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and 3 tbsps of water. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Drain the eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and cook the slices in batches for 3-4 minutes, turning once.

Arrange a layer of eggplants in the bottom of a 9×13 dish, then spoon a layer of lentil mixture on top. Continue layers until all eggplants are gone.

Beat the yogurt and eggs and pour over the layered veggies. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 8 very generous servings.

Here are the nutritional facts:

Red Pepper and Nut Dip (A Version of Muammara)

This dip is based on a Syrian dish that is mostly served with additional ingredients like pomegranate juice. I like the nutty and tangy nature of this paste-consistency dish. Very easy to prepare, provided you have all the nuts on hand.

Red Pepper and Nut Dip

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons
  • Pine Nuts, ¼  cup
  • Sliced Almonds, ¼ cup
  • Walnuts, ½ cup
  • Pistachios, unsalted roasted and shelled, ¼ cup
  • Cashews, roasted, ¼ cup
  • Red Bell Peppers, 1 lb, each cut into 2-3 pieces
  • Onion, 1 medium, coarsely chopped
  • Bread Crumbs, 1/3 cup
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt – OPTIONAL

In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and add the pine nuts and almonds and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden for about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate. Add walnuts to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor. Let cool completely.

Add the pistachios, cashews and the almonds and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Scrape into medium bowl.

Add the bell peppers, onion to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a fine mesh sleeve and press to extract as much liquid as possible.

Add the mixture to the bowl with nuts. Stir in the pine nuts, bread crumbs and remaining oil. Season with cayenne pepper and salt, if using, and serve.

Makes 3 cups, serving 12. Serve with Mary’s Gone Crackers, gluten-free sesame crackers.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

Halibut Provencal

This is a WeightWatchers recipe that we made 20/20 friendly. Like the Baked Crab Cakes recipe, this is from the WeightWatchers MyTurnAround Cookbook. It tastes non-conventional but it is satisfying, in terms of look and bulk and it is low in calories.

Halibut Provencal

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 Plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, homemade or low or no sodium option
  • 1 Tbsps fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon if using dried)
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme, (2/3 tsp if using dried)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 and 1/4 lb. Halibut fillets

Spray a large skillet with olive oil nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add onion, fennel, cook stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, stirring, for about 20 seconds. Then add tomatoes, stirring often and cook for about 4 minutes until mixture is ‘bubbly’. Add the broth, rosemary, thyme, pepper and bring to simmer, stirring to scrape any browned bits.

Nestle the halibut in the mixture. Reduce heat and simmer covered until the halibut is just opaque in the center, about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Here are the nutritional facts, thanks to SparkRecipes free calorie calculator:

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