• eat,  vegetarian

    Za’atar Spice Blend

    Alright, everyone. Get out your mortar and pestle.*  We are going to make za’atar! Za’atar literally translates to mean “wild thyme” in Arabic. Much like curry blends vary across geography, za’atar blends vary throughout the Middle East. This ancient spice combination typically consists of thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac.     Sumac is the dried, ground drupes (berries) of a shrub prevalent throughout parts of Africa and Asia. This crimson spice has a tangy, lemony zip to it. At first I used thyme straight from the garden. The green leaves were so very pretty when fresh and whole, but I realized the za’atar would benefit from drying them, as the…

  • eat,  pasta,  vegetarian

    Pasta with Wild Funghi Trifolati

    There was a tremendous heatwave in Dolceacqua this summer–throughout most of Europe, in fact—so we sought shady respite from the angry sun at a family owned and operated osteria.  Gorgeous freshly prepared rustic foods adorned the tables. Creels piled high with fresh, bulbous mushrooms awaited our order. I enjoyed the ravioli ai funghi, basking in a glimmer of olive oil—a perfect light choice for a hot day. It was love at first bite.  I knew as soon as I returned home, I would have to duplicate the trifolati. Trifolati. The word dances from your lips. Beautiful to say, but what exactly is trifolati? According to Saveur.com, trifolati is    …

  • party food & snacks,  vegan,  vegetarian

    Blistered Olives

    I often catch The Man around here with his hand in the olive jar. He is wild about olives! If you ask him, he’ll tell you they are a gift from the gods. Many people might agree with him. Especially olive farmers. Olives are handled with such care that they are gently caught in nets to keep them off the ground. (If an olive touches the ground, it no longer qualifies for virgin olive oil.) While my favorite is oil-cured black olives, his love for the fruit has no bounds. We have about 10 jars in the fridge. No kidding. He is more than happy with a bowl of olives…

  • 4th meal,  party food & snacks,  vegetarian

    Chunky Mediterranean Hummus

    This recipe is one of the reasons I am invited to parties. For years I thought it was my irresistible charm or my clever wit that was so alluring, but no.           “Hey, we’re having a get-together Friday. We hope you can come! Around 7PM?”           “Sounds great!”           “Oh, and can you bring your Chunky Mediterranean Hummus?” My hummus. That’s the caveat. But who can blame anyone for loving this dish? My recipe takes hummus, a Middle Eastern staple, and loads it up with Mediterranean goodness. Hummus is like a beautiful neutral palette that complements anything that…

  • pasta,  vegetarian

    Greek Burned Butter Pasta

    Let me start by raising a glass to Diane Kochilas, queen of Greek cuisine. Unbeknownst to her, she revolutionized my recipe. This epiphany was a game changer. My pasta was already delicious, but now it is delicious X 10! Before I stumbled upon Diane’s video, I always made this dish the way my mom made it. After all, her people are from the island of Rhodes. They were obviously experts! Yes, they knew what they were doing. We loved Mom’s browned butter pasta. We begged for it. But Diane just put this recipe on steroids. Her secret? Layers. Yep. She puts a portion of hot pasta in a big bowl…