Roasted Bell Pepper & Chickpea Salad


Ever hear of the term, traffic light peppers? Sometimes, peppers are sold in packs of three: red, green yellow, like a traffic light. For a colorful traffic light salad, you can use any or all colored bell peppers. A little fact on peppers… Red peppers are actually green bell peppers that have ripened and sweetened.

These days, winter is just not ending and we are into the month of March already. I have been feeling a bit run down, which I am sure is due to me sitting indoors more often than not. Not getting enough fresh air and exercise as I usually do has left me a little under the weather, or more aptly put,  (SAD) seasonal affective disorder. I need to see the sun! This bleak winter is enough. So to boost my immune system, I need a shot of vitamin C. Now I know most people like to pop it, but I like to eat foods rich in vitamin C and one of the high ones on the food chain is the pepper. So here we have a deliciously fresh and perky salad that is also full of protein. While you can’t see it in the photo above, there are chickpeas hiding in there. A whole can full.

I do want to point you to a previous post on how to roast peppers to bring out the sweetest meatest flavor. I suggest you roast more peppers than needed, to store in the fridge in blanket of olive oil and fetch it for salads, sandwiches or to dress up a tired pasta. This salad is very straight forward in taste and in assembly. Mint and lemon bring the salad to a whole new level of fresh that just wakes you up out of the winter slumber.


1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
4-5 roasted peppers (can be a variety of peppers)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 scallions, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Drizzle of virgin olive oil


  1. Roast peppers as described here.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then pat dry with kitchen towel.
  3. In a medium size bowl, toss the roasted peppers, chickpeas and the remaining ingredients. Serve at any temperature you prefer. I prefer room temperature as the flavors are more pronounced.

Chickpea Curry


Years before I was a vegetarian, I used to make this dish with chicken. My mother in law, Shirley introduced the Chicken Curry dish to me all the way from her homeland of South Africa. Durban, at the southern end of Africa, by the Indian Ocean has a large population of Indians that were brought over as slaves for cotton picking. As a result, there is a large influence of Indian cookery in South African cuisine. In typical South African manner, the chicken curry is served with embellishments –  topped with sliced bananas and shredded coconut. It is simply sublime. Subsequently, since I became a vegetarian several years ago, I transformed this dish using chickpeas. The chickpeas are simmered in a fragrantly spiced tomato mixture, and kicked up with the South African toppings, thereby creating a melange of sweet, spicy, and crunchy.

Serves 4-6


3/4 cup dried chickpeas or 2 (15 ounce) cans of chickpeas
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 small chili (seeds removed)
1 onion, diced
½ teaspoon chili powder
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoon mango chutney (or any of your choice)
Sliced Banana, for topping (optional)
Shredded Coconut, for topping (optional)


  1. Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with plenty of cold water. The following day, drain the water and rinse again. Place in a large saucepan, and cover the chickpeas with cold water, one inch above the chickpeas. Bring to boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour, or until tender. Drain and rinse and skin the chickpeas, preferable but optional.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over a medium high flame, add mustard seed, turmeric, curry powder, ginger, chili and chili powder. Stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Then add onions and garlic, stirring to make sure onions don’t brown. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.
  4. Then add tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes have liquified, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked chickpeas and let it simmer, covered for 30 minutes over low heat. Once cooked, add mango chutney. When ready to serve, top with sliced banana and shredded coconut with a side of basmati rice.

Pan Roasted Cinnamon Spiced Chickpeas

IMG_1777 There are few things tastier than golden, crusty, pan-fried chickpeas – and this is where I start. In a pan, I drop two dollops of coconut oil, which withstands high cooking temperatures and  nicely adds a subtle, sweet nuttiness that pairs beautifully with the pronounced cinnamon coated chickpeas. I can happily snack on this alone or have this as a side with some veggies, to turn this into a full fledged meal. I prefer to use fresh chickpeas, as it’s much more economical and it’s less mushy. I like the hardness. I suggest skinning the chickpeas, as it’s the skin that also makes it a harder legume and removing it makes for a smoother glide down the gullet.

Serves 4


1/2 cup dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon agave

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with plenty of cold water. The following day, drain the water and rinse again. Place in a large saucepan, and cover the chickpeas with cold water, one inch above the chickpeas. Bring to boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour, or until tender. Drain and rinse and skin the chickpeas, preferable but optional.
  2. Mix together the spice mixture with agave until it’s evenly coated.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Toss the cooked chickpeas into the heated pan, stirring and shaking until the chickpeas shrink a bit and let out a delicious fragrance, about 7 minutes.
  4. Serve with some chopped salad with a lemon dressing for a complete meal.

Morrocan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

For the last two weeks, my CSA delivered baby carrots, so have been trying a few different recipes – from soups to salads. I came across a cookbook Roots, by Diane Morgan – catchy title that has so many insinuations, like back to the roots of cooking, and cooking with root vegetables.

This salad embodies what I love most about salads – quick, easy and the ingredients are available year round. I added a bit of my own variation from the original recipe, as really you can add anything to this salad and it’ll work. It’s that versatile. On the plate is a heady toast of cumin dressing over julienne carrots (which you can use the food processor to cut down on time) cooked chickpeas, little chunks of medjool dates, and some fresh mint to open the palate with slivered almonds to garnish.

Serves 6


1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

10 ounces carrots, julienne
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)
2/3 cup medjool dates, cut into chickpea-sized pieces
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
For serving: lots of toasted almond slices

  1. To make the dressing, first toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
  2. In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, chickpeas, dates, mint, and almonds. Gently toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (You can toss this salad, minus the almonds, hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.)


Cauliflower Peanut Curry

There are times, when not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes looks are really deceiving and I think that could be a good thing. If everything looked as it seemed there would be no mystery. Mystery is needed to seduce and to entice curiosity. That being said, let me address this picture before anything else. I wish I could blame the appearance of this meal on my lack of camera skills, or that it was having a bad “vegetable day” (Ha, Ha… ok I thought that was cute) however it’s just no beauty.

In spite of its less then stellar looks (poor thing) this peanuty coconut curry cauliflower dish tastes divine on a bed of brown basmati rice doused with raita, lemon slices, toasted slivered almonds, fresh or toasted coconut, raisins and sliced cucumbers. Shew…. Try saying that all in one breath. Pick your choice. This time around I chose coconut flakes.

This recipe comes originally from The New Moosewood Cookbook. I have modified some of the ingredients and recipe techniques to not only give it more protein and less carbs, (I do like to watch my figure;-) but to mimic authentic Indian cuisine. Sauteing the spices before the onions, creates the foundation for this dish and intensifies the flavors even more. And I definitely like intensity.

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

Serves 6

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Sea salt 
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, reserve some for garnish
1/2 cup lightly toasted peanuts
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup water (more, as needed)

1 large cauliflower, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into coin medallions
1 cup cooked chick peas
Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet and add the mustard seeds, turmeric, ground cloves, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper.  Once the mustard seeds start to pop,  (less than a minute) stir in the onions and salt. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, until onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  2. In the meantime, in a blender puree the peanuts, sesame seeds and shredded coconut with water. If it’s too thick, add more water. This should have the consistency of a thick paste.
  3. Then add cauliflower and carrot and mix well. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, then add the paste. Mix well. Cook, covered, over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, stirring every few minutes. Add more water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.
  4. Add the chick peas, and lemon juice, and cook a few more minutes. Taste to adjust salt, and serve hot, with rice and condiments.

Dovgha ~ Azerbaijani Yogurt Soup with Rice, Spinach, and Mixed Herbs)

Dovgha  ~ Azerbaijani Yogurt Soup with Rice, Spinach, and Mixed Herbs
This is a yogurt cream soup has its origins from Azerbaijan- a Turkic state that is right in the middle of the Silk Road. Russia to the north, Georgia (the country, not the state) to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south.
Finely chopped Scallions and Coarsely Chopped Spinach
Azerbaijan’s climate contributes to the fertility of the land, which in its turn results in the richness of the country’s cuisine. It is famous for an abundance of vegetables and greens used seasonally in the dishes. Fresh herbs, including mint, coriander, dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, leek, chive, thyme, marjoram, green onion, and watercress are very popular and often accompany main dishes.
Yoghurt, Rice flour, olive oil and salt
The main course of Azerbaijani cuisine are over 30 kinds of soups, including those prepared from plain yoghurt. This is my favorite soup now and so fulfilling. It’s made of yogurt mixed with water, rice, and as many green herbs that you can get your hands on. It can be served hot or cold depending on the season. I love it either way.
Whisk the Yogurt into the pot so that it does not clump
(Tangy Azerbaijani Yogurt Soup with Rice, Spinach, and Mixed Herbs)


Yields 6 servings
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons Sea Salt
3 loosely packed cups coarsely chopped spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 (15-ounce) can cooked chickpeas* *
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley leaves
  1. Bring broth or water to a boil with the rice in a large soup pot over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a medium heat, and gently boil, covered, for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine yogurt with flour, olive oil, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Very slowly pour the yogurt mixture, a little at a time, into the pot while vigorously whisking with the other hand to prevent curdling. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce to a medium-low heat and gently boil for 10 minutes for yogurt to thicken slightly.
  3. Mix in the spinach leaves, scallions, and cooked chickpeas and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, uncovered. Add mint, dill, and cilantro (or parsley) leaves, and cook an additional 10 minutes, uncovered.
  4. Serve hot or warm garnished with extra chopped herbs and/or scallions.
* * To Prepare chickpeas: ¾ cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight, drained and rinsed and boil for an hour. Remove outer layer; once cooled.

Syrian Chickpea & Quinoa Casserole (Cascasoon)

Memorial Day marks the start of summer and thank goodness warmer weather seems to have arrived. Yesterday in Great Neck Estates, we celebrated our Centennial with a big bash. The typical barbecue fare that most people have associated with Memorial Day weekend as the griddle sizzles with smoke.

I was manning the table for the Environmental Commission educating our 1000 families on Recycling, CSA’s and Green Living. You can always drop me a line if you would like the comprehensive pamphlet that I created and I will be happy to email it to you.

In any event, Vegetarians seem to miss out on the barbecues and we are always in search of alternatives. It’s like we are missing part of the fun. Memorial Day has always been associated with outdoor activities and barbecues while gathering with family and friends. So this year, I made a big dish suitable for a large crowd and almost anyone, especially the little ones will love it.

This Syrian dish known as Cascasoon is traditionally made with couscous, coming from the Arabic etymology, “minced into small pieces.” I have substituted couscous for quinoa, which does not compromise flavor whatsoever. For those of you that like melted gooey stringy cheese, you can bake the Cascasoon with cheese, which makes it more of a family meal that the kids will enjoy. I have used Muenster cheese, because I like that “Muenster” is a derivative of the Latin word “monasterium.” Monks lived quiet simple lives in harmony with nature.

Memorial Day is the time to spend with your family- outdoors in nature, a meal that will bring harmony as you eat and chat together. This recipe has been adapted from Poopa Dwek’s Aroma’s of Allepo.

Serves 6 to 8



2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (16 ounce) package of Quinoa (2 cups)
2 cups cooked Garbanzo beans ** (One 15 ounce can, washed and drained)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ½ cups water
¼ cup olive oil
¼ pound sliced Meunster cheese (optional)*


1 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 6 to 8 minutes, or until translucent.
2 Add the Quinoa and continue sautéing until the grain turns brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
3 Add the chickpeas (if not using canned, otherwise add it in step 4) salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer covered until all the water is soaked up, about 25 minutes.
4 Pour in the olive oil and toss gently. If using canned chickpeas, add it in this step.
5 Optional: Spoon the Cascasoon into a baking casserole dish and top with the cheese. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Cooks Note:
* Vegan option if not using cheese in step 5.
** To Prepare: ¾ cup beans, soaked overnight or boil them for an hour. Remove outer layer; drain and rinse.

Sautéed Vegetables & Chickpeas in Balsamic Stew (Vegan, Gluten Free)

This dish has a Mediterranean flair with the heavy hand of olive oil and vegetables tossed with chickpeas and lentils in a balsamic vinaigrette. 

A simple dish to prepare that just requires cutting and tossing for a tangy meal. What’s more is that the eggplant and mushrooms add a meaty texture to the meal, so is perfectly suited for your carnivorous guests making it a hearty meal. This dish  yields a lot of servings, so if you have a big crowd, this is the dish to prepare. As a side dish, you can serve it with warm Tuscan bread on a salad plate or can even be served as a light lunch. This recipe is an adaption of Suzie Fishbein’s Kosher By Design: Short on Time.

A Note about the Beans:

If you don’t have a can of lentil you can always use 1 cup dried lentils in 3 cups of water in already boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and cover for 30 minutes. Drain and use.

If you don’t have a can of chickpeas, prepare ¾ cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight or boil them for an hour for shortcut version. Remove outer layer; drain and rinse.

Serves 8-10


½ cup olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

1 eggplant, unpeeled and cubed

1 medium yellow squash, sliced into ¼ inch rounds

1 zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch rounds

3 portabella mushroom caps, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 (15 ounce) can lentils, washed and drained

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, washed and drained

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon paprika

                       1      Soak the eggplants in a container of cold water with 2 tablespoons salt for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse, pat dry and set aside.

                      2      In large saucepot, heat oil over medium high heat. Sauté onion until it turns into a pinkish hue.

                      3      Add all ingredients; eggplant, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, red pepper, lentils, and chickpeas. Stir, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

                      4      Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika; stirring to combine with all the ingredients. Check for doneness if vegetables are tender, if not then cook simmered for another 10 minutes.

Sweet Savory Chick Pea Curry

This is an unusual twist on the classic curry dish, which has a sweet kick to it with fennel undertones. The raisins and carrots add a rich color and delightful taste that will satiate your palate. This dish comes from my mother in law, Shirley in South Africa where many African dishes have an Indian influence because they descended in the 19th century as indentured workers transported to work on the sugar plantations of Natal. The result is a fusion Indo-African dish, which is best served over basmati rice.

Serves 6

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1-inch ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cumin, fennel seeds
2 apples, finely diced
2 carrots, sliced and cubed
2 tomatoes, diced
1- 15 ounce can of cooked Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans), drained and rinsed
½ cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped (to garnish)
      1                 1      Heat oil in a large pot over a medium high flame, add onions and stir for a few minutes. Add garlic, and ginger stirring to make sure mixture does not stick.

                              2      Once onions are translucent, add all the spices including salt. Stir for an additional 3 minutes.
                              3      Stir in apples for a minute, then add carrots and stir for another minute and then stir the tomatoes in.  Let cook for a few minutes.
                             4      Stir in the garbanzo beans and vegetable stock, bringing mixture to a boil.
                             5      Once boiling, lower heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add lemon juice and raisins and simmer for another 10 minutes.
                            6      When done, serve garnished with parsley.