Friday, June 6, 2014

Dill Pesto Couscous

We have had a number of requests to cook more side dishes in addition to the main courses and desserts. When we were cooking up our Greek Meatloaf I realized that I didn’t have any potatoes, so looking around the pantry I found a bag of couscous.  Decision made! 

When I first had couscous many years ago, I was under the mistaken impression that it was some sort of grain. It is actually a form of pasta made of semolina in granular form. I’m not sure of its origin, but it is very popular in North African cuisine. On its own, couscous is pretty bland tasting so often it is served underneath meat or vegetables. It can also be infused with flavorful ingredients, cooked in stock and many other options to give it a more substantial taste. Because couscous is granular, it cooks quickly and easily.
It happens that we had a lot of fresh dill and parsley on hand, so we wanted to add these flavors to the couscous along with some other things we had on hand. Almonds and raisins also added some crunch, sweetness and texture.

Dill Couscous

First, make a pesto using fresh herbs that you will cook with the couscous:

1 cup of fresh dill (you could also use basil or mint)
½ cup of fresh parsley
2 TBSP almonds or walnuts
1 clove of garlic or a small shallot
1 lemon, zest removed and juiced reserved
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Put everything in a food processor except the lemon and combine. This will be a loose kind of sauce, not thick as some pesto can be. Give it a taste, add more salt and pepper as preferred and, if you want a little more lemon flavor, add some of the reserved lemon juice. Once you’re good with the flavor, set mixture aside.

Now you can make the couscous:

2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups couscous
Dill pesto mixture
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ golden raisins
Put chicken stock and dill pesto mixture in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add couscous, stir and cover pot. Let stand for about seven minutes. Remove lid and add almonds and raisins – fluff with fork to make sure everything is mixed together. Serve immediately.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Appetizer That's Sure to Please - Spinach Parmesan Balls

Easy and Dee-Lish Cauliflower Soup

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Use up Your Ripe Bananas and Make a Banana Pudding Trifle

Meatloaf Florentine

Leftover Turkey? How About Leftovers Turkey Benedict?

My Mom's Almond Coffee Cake

Homemade Pita Chips! Easy and SO GOOD!

A Vintage Dessert - Orange Blossom Cake

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Vegetarian Option: Tomato Spinach Casserole

Memories of Paris - Making Croque Madame

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Irish Beef Stew

Our Idea of Fun Fusion - Polish Spaghetti!

What to do With Lots of Yeast? Make Orange Raisin Bread

Ralph Remembers His Mom with Spanish Rice Recipe

Greek-Style Meatloaf

Making meatloaf is like putting a blank canvas on an easel and following your inspiration. It lends itself to countless variations, limited only by your imagination or maybe what you might have on-hand at the moment. Most cooks have a favorite meatloaf recipe, and there are many terrific methods for putting a meatloaf together. 

The meat used in a meatloaf offers many creative options. You can use a single meat – like ground beef – or a combination that might include a little ground pork, veal or lamb. I’ve had meatloaf that incorporated ground ham and crumbled fried bacon. Then  you have all kinds of vegetables, cheese and seasonings that you can throw in the mix. 

Generally, most meatloaf recipes call for ingredients that help bind the meat together, keep it moist and extend (when you’re a little short on meat!) the volume. Often these are ingredients like beaten eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs, but you could use a number of alternatives.

This meatloaf was inspired by our love of the many wonderful flavors of Greek food. It includes a number of herbs and spices common in Greek cuisine, along with things like Kalamata olives and feta cheese.


Greek-Style Meatloaf

1 ½ lb. ground chuck
½ lb. ground pork (could also use ground lamb)
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium onion, diced and sautéed until soft and brown in 3 TBSP. butter
1 cup crushed saltine crackers (could also use breadcrumbs)
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp. each of the following: salt, pepper, cinnamon, oregano and tarragon
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. thyme
1 tomato, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the sliced tomato. Combine with clean hands GENTLY until everything is just mixed. Transfer mixture to a large sheet pan or 9x13 baking dish that has been coated with non-stick spray. Shape mixture into loaf shape with hands and place in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, place slices of tomato on top of meatloaf and return to oven for another 20 minutes. Remove and LET REST for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.