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Quick bread, baked custard, or one-pot-meal pilaf.

Packaged dry mixes for traditional Middle Eastern specialties form the base for these appealingly easy recipes. Boldly seasoned with the cuisine's characteristic herbs and spices--including lemon, garlic, sesame, cumin, and coriander--these mixes can quickly transform plain dishes into well-seasoned ones.

Hummus (made from ground garbanzos) and tahini (made from ground sesame seed) are most commonly served as dips for raw vegetables and bread. Tahini can also be thinned for use as a salad dressing. Here we offer two more inventive uses for either of the mixes: as an ingredient in a rustic crusty bread or in a creamy, baked cheese-like custard. The garbanzos and sesame seed each contribute a nutty flavor and dense, hearty texture to these choices.

We also built on a spiced rice pilaf mix by adding lamb and onion to make a quick one-pan meal; serve with a refreshing cucumber-yogurt-mint salsa.

Look for hummus, tahini, and rice pilaf mixes in supermarkets and natural-food stores in the section with rice and rice mixes or with the fancy foods. The mixes are sometimes also available by the pound in the bulk-foods section of some stores.

Hummus or Tahini Bread

2 large eggs 2/3 cup milk 1 package (6 oz.) hummus bean dip or tahini dip and dressing mix (about 1 1/2 cups) About 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Lightly beat eggs; reserve 1 tablespoon. In a food processor or bowl, blend remaining eggs and milk. In another bowl, combine hummus or tahini mix and 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix dry ingredients into liquid ingredients.

In a food processor or bowl, whirl or stir just until dough sticks together. If dough clings heavily to bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Working quickly, scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into a smooth 6-inch round (dough dries out as it sits); place on an oiled 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Brush loaf with reserved 1 tablespoon egg. Bake in a 350[degrees] oven until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Makes 1 loaf (about 1 1/3 lb.).

Per ounce: 80 cal.; 2.6 g protein; 4 g fat (0.3 g sat.); 8.1 g carbo.; 59 mg sodium; 21 mg chol.

Lamb Pilaf

1 pound ground lean lamb 1 large (8 oz.) onion, coarsely chopped 1 package (6 to 8 oz.) rice pilaf mix with Middle Eastern seasonings Cucumber salsa (recipe follows)

In a 12-inch frying pan or 5- to 6-quart pan, cook lamb and onion over medium-high heat, stirring often, until meat is browned and onion is golden, about 15 minutes; discard any fat. Return to heat. When meat sizzles, add 1/4 cup water and stir to release browned bits; when liquid evaporates, repeat this procedure twice.

To pan, add pilaf mix (including seasoning packet) and water amount specified on package directions for making entire mix. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until rice is tender to bite and liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter; serve with salsa. Serves 6

Per serving: 329 cal.; 18 g protein; 12 g fat (4.5 g. sat.); 35 g carbo.; 563 mg sodium; 51 mg chol.

Cucumber salsa. In a bowl, mix 1 pound (about 1 large) coarsely chopped European cucumber, 1 cup unflavored nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped green onion, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon drained capers, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed. Makes 3 cups.

Hummus or Tahini Custard

with Condiments

1 1/2 cups milk 1 package (6 oz.) hummus bean dip or tahini dip and dressing mix (about 1 1/2 cups) 3 large eggs Condiments (suggestions follow)

In a blender, food processor, or large bowl, beat milk, hummus or tahini mix, and eggs until well blended. Pour into 8 greased custard or souffle cups (each about 1/2 cup). Place cups in a larger baking pan in a 350[degrees] oven. Add boiling water to fill larger pan about 1 inch deep.

Bake until center is set and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 25 minutes. Remove cups from water; let cool 5 minutes. Run knife around edges and invert custards onto plates, or serve from cups. (If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day.) Serve hot, warm, or cool. Arrange with equal portions of condiments on 8 dinner plates. Serves 8.

Per serving: 180 cal.; 8.2 g grotein; 13 g fat (1.8 g sat.); 8.5 g carbo.; 200 mg sodium; 87 mg chol.

Condiments. Offer 8 cups salad greens (rinsed and crisped); 2 small (about 8 oz. total) firm-ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges; about 2/3 cup unflavored yogurt; 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion; 1/3 cup salt-cured olives; and lemon wedges.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Words:826
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