Green Beans and Shallots with Toasted Nuts and Goat Cheese

It appears that I am on a green beans kick…

This time, I made it with shallots, walnut oil and goat cheese. It is NOT a revolutionary approach or anything. I just want to try new things with green beans, that’s all.

I had this dish with roasted chicken breast and a glass of Austrian sparkling wine (it was Brut, 2006).

Green Beans and Shallots with Toasted Nuts and Goat Cheese


  • 1 lb., green beans, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps walnut oil
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a boiling pot of water, cook the beans 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl with ice water to stop cooking. I usually recommend cooking the beans for another minute or so but this time, you will cook the beans a bit with the shallots so 3 minutes seemed to be enough.

In a small non-stick fry pan on medium heat, toast the walnuts, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes.

In a large skillet on medium heat, saute the shallots in the olive oil for a minute or so. Then add the walnuts and the beans. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper (small pinches should do).

Serve immediately,  topped with goat cheese.

Makes 4 servings. It could probably serve more folks but I figured the calories on Sparks People recipe calculator for 4 people. Here are the nutritional facts:

Brown Rice, With Onions and Dill

This dish came out of nowhere and knocked the socks out of me last weekend, when we hosted two of our closest friends and their two visiting relatives. Out of the four dishes we served, this one was the stand out. It is a more interesting side than just plain rice (which we hardly do anymore). I like brown rice, I like dill and I like onions. Never thought about putting them together though.

Brown Rice, With Onions and Dill


  • 3 cups brown rice (rice cooker cups, not real cups)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste and/or for color

If you don’t have a rice cooker, go ahead and buy 2 or 3 6-ounce boxes of plain rice pilaf or just stop reading. Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t you have a rice cooker? If you can make rice without a cooker, than do it. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Add the onions and cook, stirring once in a while until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill and add pepper (start small, like 1/2 teaspoon and go from there). Transfer the rice into a large bowl and then fold n the onion mixture.

Serves 8.

Here are the nutrition facts:

Sigara Boregi (‘Cigarette’ Pastry)

Somewhat challenging prep but the payoff is worth it. Sigara boregi is something every Turkish household used to have when I was growing up. The name comes from the shape. It looks like hand rolled cigarettes. And I do a mean roll.

The feta, parsley and black pepper play off of each other in a way that makes this a special feeling dish although there is absolutely nothing special about it. I also use red chili pepper flakes to spice it up ever so slightly. Frying is bad for you of course so be careful when you make these. They go down very easily but if Recipe Calculator on Sparks People is right, then these puppies are 64 calories each. Yikes. But so gooood.

Sigara Boregi (‘Cigarette’ Pastry)


  • Yufka triangles, from a Middle Eastern grocery
  • 4 oz fat-free feta cheese
  • 1-2 tsps Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • 2 tsps water, in shallow dish
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Note: Yufka is the Turkish word for a round and thin hand-rolled pastry sheet (thicker than phillo, thinner than flaky pastry sheets). You can find the triangles in the frozen food section, generally in packs of 24 triangles, in most Middle Eastern markets.

Thaw the triangles and then cut them vertically to double the triangle count.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the feta, parsley and black pepper.

On a dry surface, lay out a triangle of yufka and put a teaspoon of feta mixture on the wide edge (see image). Then fold the outside edges inward just below the mixture, and roll the yufka into a ‘cigarette’ leaving about 2 inches of flap at the tip of the triangle. Dip the 2 inches of the yufka in the water and then finish rolling it in shape of a cigarette. The water will help seal the pastry.

In a shallow frying pan, pour a 1/8 inch thick layer of sunflower oil and fry the pastries on medium high heat, turning them midway through approximately 45-50 seconds per ‘cigarette’.

Makes 48 cigarettes.

Here is the awful truth about this dish’s nutrition:

Cheese and Onion Pie

This is so gooood but so dangerous. Don’t try this at home. Or do, but don’t eat more than a sliver. The calories are actually not that bad considering but the make up of the calories are: It is all fat calories. I say all this but I have to say people love this pie. It is easy to make if you are not a pie dough newbie (heck, it actually is, even if you are). Just make sure you get the decent cheddar cheese. I found the recipe on NY Times. Made minor modifications… So good.

Cheese and Onion Pie


  • 1 and a 1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6 Tbsps unsalted butter, room-temperature
  • 4 Tbsps lard (yes, lard)
  • 3 Tbsps ice water
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 lb grated Cheddar or Chantal cheese
  • Milk, to seal and glaze
  • Salt to taste

Combine the flour and a large pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons butter and the lard, and use your fingers to gently rub the fat into the flour until it has the texture of coarse bread crumbs. Mix in just enough ice water to bind the mixture, about 3 tablespoons, and lightly knead the dough until well combined and smooth. When you can, mold the mixture into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large skillet over low heat. When the butter melts, add the onions, a pinch of salt and the ground white pepper; cook slowly for about 10 minutes, never browning. Turn the heat to medium and slowly pour in the water. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid cooks off, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and place them on a plate to cool.

Grease the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish and sprinkle a clean and dry area on the counter top with flour.

Unwrap the dough and divide it into two balls, one twice as big as the other. Put them on the surface and sprinkle the tops with flour. Using light pressure, roll each one from the center outward, adding more flour as needed and turning them over once or twice during the process.

When the larger ball is roughly 10 inches in diameter, gently move it into the pie dish and press it firmly into the bottom and sides. Prick it all over with a fork.

Layer the onions and cheese on top of the dough in the dish, then carefully cover with the remaining dough — it should be about 8 inches in diameter.

Press the edges together, gently but firmly, and brush the top and edges with milk. Use a knife to make 3 small incisions in the top of the crust so steam can escape. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is nicely browned and the insides are bubbly, an hour or an hour and ten  minutes.

Cool a bit before slicing into wedges and serving.

Makes 8-10 small wedges.

Here are the nutritional facts for the pie:


Yes, yes, people spell it in various ways but in Turkish, there is no baba ganoush… It is babagannush (well, s with a dot underneath… I am putting the h at the end to give the sh sound). Simple, straightforward. Now with the blasphemous invention of roasted eggplant in a jar (oh the horror… so salty but damn the gods, so easy and consistently smokey flavored. Seriously though, if using a jar, drain and rinse it prior to use).

This is a good, quick spread that you can serve on a cracker or pita. Make sure you are not overdoing the pita or chips… This is a great dish to serve as a side to chicken or beef as well… Totally doable without  any scooping. Don’t give in to the American thinking that “if it is scoopable, then it must be a spread.” It doesn’t have to be.



  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of chili powder
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Half bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prick each eggplant a few times with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance. Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp, draining any liquid.  Chop the pulp to break strings of eggplant but not until it’s totally mushy.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until well mixed. Taste and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving. Serve with crackers, sliced baguette, or toasted pita chips.

Storage: You can refrigerate Babagannușh for up to five days prior to serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Here are the nutritional facts:

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