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Value Guru and the Middle East Secret

By Susannah Simone, April 29, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Susannah Simone
I have to admit, Sunday afternoon I was beat from an active day that began with a big dog walk then progressed into grocery shopping, a yoga class, cleaning house and working in the garden, followed by a very welcome shower. All would make for a fantastic spring day if I didn't then have to make dinner! I was too tired and broke to consider going out to pick something up, so I took an exploratory tour of cupboard, fridge and freezer, grumbling all the while that I hadn't followed my own oft-preached advice and planned tonight's meal when I shopped just that morning! I opened a fortifying local beer, nibbled on some sunflower seeds and forced myself to start pulling a few things out and putting some thought into it. A mere 20 minutes later, when I took a load off and took my first bite, I was so happy that I laughed out loud at myself because this is one of my very favorite meals with benefits: really awesome flavors, satisfying without being too heavy, costs so little and is pretty darn healthy. I relaxed in front of a stupid movie and savored every bite. It was a gratifying way to end a productive Sunday. Here's what I dug up in the kitchen... Sundried Tomato Couscous Salad Whole wheat couscous: So easy and fast to cook. Then I toss and season with something tasty I have on my overloaded fridge door: a few olives and/or sundried tomatoes in oil to mince; half a jar of pesto or tapenade; some crumbled feta or goat cheese; cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, celery, carrot, red onion. Give it a generous squeeze of lemon and then, if needed, a little salt, Bragg's liquid aminos or tamari soy sauce. I like a spoonful of harissa, too...a little goes a long way for very flavorful heat. Hummus Rustic hummus: I mash 1 can (or the equivalent home-cooked) drained and rinsed garbanzo beans with a drizzle of flaxseed or olive oil, garlic (granules work, but fresh pressed is better), lemon juice and a dash of salt. If I have tahini (sesame seed paste), I definitely add 2 or 3 tablespoons of that for more authentic flavor! (Tahini is actually a very good thing to have on hand for flavoring salad dressing and dips when you don't want to use mayo or cheese.) For a hummus recipe with all the details, check out this one. Raw vegetable salad: Large bite-sized chunks of cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper or any combination thereof tossed with garlicky vinaigrette. Frozen pita bread: This is my all-purpose freezer staple-whole wheat is my personal preference. Warm in the microwave, oven or skillet, cut into wedges and wrap in a kitchen towel until you're ready to eat. What else? Olives are good. Lamb kabobs are great, and to limit the cost, after they're cooked, cut up in small bites and add to the couscous. Tart lemonade over loads of crushed ice is an admirable accompaniment from the beverage category. I have all kinds of nosy questions for you this time: What's your secret for a satisfying meal at the end of a long, tired day? When do you turn to the Middle East? What are your favorite meals with benefits?




Tamar Armstrong says ...
I guess there arent many benefits but my go to meal is always spaghetti with turkey meat sauce. I always seem to have the ingredients on hand and it cooks up so quick! I add a salad and bread for a perfect night....
04/29/2009 8:20:07 AM CDT
Carolyn Woodul says ...
Living in Raton makes it a special treat to visit the Wholefoods Market in Santa Fe. I could spend all day there. Recently a friend from Raton said, "YOU MUST TRY THE CHANTILLY CAKE! MY MOUTH IS WATERING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT". Of course, I had to buy the Chantilly Cake. Bill was so right! It is the best dessert I have ever tasted! I bought two; one to give to Bill and one for my husband and I to share. The bag tumped over in the back seat, and the cake got a little smashed. I brought them in, and put one in the refrigerator for Bill. I INTNDED to share one cake (generous serving) with my husband, but started eating it and could not stop. I decided that my husband could have "Bill's cake". Of course, he had it all. Now Bill tell's me that I could buy a whole cake instead of individual servings. I will certainly do that next time. Try Chantilly Cake. You will love it.
04/29/2009 3:48:40 PM CDT
Angie says ...
When I make spaghetti as a go-to meal, I like to cut up some veggies to go in my sauce as well -- at least onions and celery, as well as anything else I have in the fridge!
04/29/2009 4:19:58 PM CDT
Stephanie Minderhout says ...
After a long, hard day- I love to make something that is super satisfying without taking a super long time to prepare. I agree with you on the hummus and I also keep pita on hand at all times in my freezer! My favorite thing to do it grab my second freezer staple, frozen 365 Stoplight Bell Pepper Strips- (I put them in everything!) I toss a cup or so of the frozen chopped bell peppers into my hot cast iron skillet with a dab of olive oil and a clove of garlic, and sauté until the mixture is fragrant and beginning to brown. Then, it all goes into my food processor with a can of chickpeas and some lemon juice, salt and pepper. Simple, wholesome ‘roasted’ pepper hummus. I also love to keep Organic 365 plain yogurt on hand- the large tubs- I can use it so many ways! I goes in my morning smoothie with fruit, or after a long day, toss a little plain yogurt with some cucumbers and some mint pulled from my garden- seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh garlic to taste- it is a lovely and fresh Tzatziki style salad! Easy on your wallet, and your waistline- plus it’s a cinch to prepare. And my all time favorite Middle Eastern go-to spice is Garam Masala. Never has such a simple to use ingredient gotten me so many rave reviews. In my butternut squash soup, or on grilled chicken over rice- it makes everything it touches have depth- and an earthly sweetness that is a little hard to put your finger on- but is always deeply satisfying.
04/29/2009 4:32:32 PM CDT
Mary Bowman says ...
http://www.mccormickgourmet.com/gcrecipedetail.cfm?id=1238 This is a fabulous "potluck" salad which gets rave reviews every time. Very nutritious, colorful, tasty, and it holds well for several hours. Vegetarians could use a veggie brother instead of the chicken brother. The dates and pignoli add crunch and sweetness.
05/27/2009 4:09:57 PM CDT
Mary Bowman says ...
Ooops - I meant to say "veggie broth" not "veggie brother" in my post above. I must have been thinking about my brother who liked the salad so well at a recent party!
05/27/2009 4:11:42 PM CDT