Beetroot Soup with Feta Cheese

I have never been fond of beets. To me they always came in jars, tasting like earth and vinegar. Nothing to look forward to. I changed my mind! Beetroot soup is not only eye-catching but delicious too. Add a shot of vodka to it, and have a Borscht experience.

Mojo Verde (Spanish Green Sauce)

Originally from the Canary Islands, this recipe is now popular all over Spain. It’s used for potatoes (Spanish are consummate potato eaters), roasted vegetables, fish, salads, soups you name it, you got it.

Labneh

Labneh, also known as Laban, which means yogurt in Arabic, is a traditional food in the Middle East. It can also be served on its own as an appetizer – sprinkled with some olive oil and herbs and accompanied by some pita bread – a real delight!

Provençal Potatoes

Tian à la Comtadine is a traditional potato dish of the Provence. “Tian” is a gratin dish and “Comtat” means duchy. This is a popular side dish in France for meats and fish. But I also like it as a vegetarian choice accompanied by a green salad.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo also known as Salsa  Fresca is one of the best known Mexican imports to the American food scene. It’s a versatile sauce that renders itself to a multitude of uses. It is a crisp and tart condiment which enlivens grilled meats, baked dishes and is a great side kick to snacks. Indispensable in a summer party.

Cured Olive (Olives Piquées)

Here is a recipe to prepare your own cured olives. It only works with freshly harvested olives. You can’t obtain fresh ones? Then you might want to take a look at this recipe, so you buy the right variety for your Mediterranean dishes.

Persillade

Persillade (Persil = parsley in French) is a recurrent theme in the French kitchen. No wonder, the irresistible aroma of garlic and parsley makes any dish glorious. It can be added during the preparation of the dish for a more subtle flavor, at the very end to provide a more garlicky taste or even used raw as a garnish.

Cèpes (Mushrooms) à la Provençal

The type of mushrooms normally used for this dish are Cèpes, a French term which should be applied only to the Porcini variety. For this dish, you may also use cultivated mushrooms, like champignons, as long as they are fresh.

Cranberry Chipotle Sauce

No longer your grandmother’s traditional cranberry sauce. A Latino touch has been added to it. Chipotle chilis and dried smoked jalapeno peppers add a spark of heat and smokiness to the sweet/tart cranberries.

Ensalada Rusa

It’s one of the most popular dishes in a Spanish tapas bar, Russian Potato Salad. During the Franco dictatorship the word Russia was “prohibido” hence the dish was called – in public only – Ensalada Nacional. As part of a tapas dish tuna (canned or small shrimps are added as well as sliced hard boiled eggs as garnish. I love Ensalada Rusa also as a side dish without tuna.

Baked Potatoes with Olives

Potatoes, onions, red peppers, olives and a few spices baked in olive oil – it’s amazing what a few good ingredients can do to a simple dish. It could even serve as a vegetarian main course.

Jalapeno Corn Fritters

I am quite a fan of corn fritters. They herald the summer with their sunny color. They are easy to make and always a winner at BBQs. The good news is that you do not need to wait for the summer season to have them. When using canned corn, run them briefly under water and drain. Frozen corn needs only to be thawed.

English Fresh Pea Soup

A refreshing pea soup that requires very little time to prepare. The ideal meal for after you have “switched off” for the day. Cooking peas briefly will retain their bright green color and unadulterated taste.

Cannellini Beans with Broccolini

A versatile dish with great color and contrasting flavors done in a jiffy thanks to a pantry staple, canned Cannellini beans. Comfort food in many shapes. A satisfying vegetarian choice, a side dish to your choice of meats and a great pic-nic take along.

Parmesan Salad Dressing

It just happened that I was in the mood for a salad and hungry. My neighbor had picked Romaine salad in the morning and was kind enough to give a salad head to me. Using bottled salad dressing from the supermarket aisle was out of the question – I never use them, never ever! This is certainly not a novel dressing idea, there are many versions around. There is an upside to it though. If you have the ingredients on hand, it is tasty and takes minutes to make. I bet it will take less time than running to the next food store to get a bottled one.

Moroccan Tomato Salad

Moroccan tomato salad is tasty, easy to prepare and an excellent salad to accompany meat, fish, and grain dishes. Add green olives or capers or preserved lemons but always pick the ripest and firmest tomatoes. I personally prefer to cut tomatoes in slices, they are less prone to get watery. 

Arugula and Carrot Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

A combination that has everything going for it. One of those recipes where the end result is more than the sum of parts. I prefer to use white balsamic vinegar, a mild vinegar which does not overpower the pepperiness of the arugula and the pungency of the blue cheese.

Tapenade (Caper and Olive Spread)

Here is the recipe for the traditional black Tapenade, the most common one used in the Provence. Use it as a spread for hors-d’oeuvres or to season meats and fish. Tapenade can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Baked Figs with Faisselle

Ripe figs are naturally sweet and do not need a lot of embellishments. For a dessert dish like this one, you can bake the figs and add a bit of honey, cinnamon and serve it with a Faiselle or some Greek strained yogurt.  When buying figs in season pick the ones which are firm, especially if you are planning to bake them.