Category Archives: Vegetarian

Quinoa, Corn,Spinach, & Sundried Tomato Stuffed Artichokes

quinoa stuffed artichokesOne of my favorite ways to enjoy the true flavor of artichokes is to just steam them and dip the leaves indulgently into melted butter with an added  squeeze of lemon–perfection. Stuffing artichokes  with buttery breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs is pretty hard to beat too. While both of these options are delicious, they aren’t exactly what you would categorize with  #light ,  #healthy , #SummerBeachBody tags.

quinoa stuffed artichokesThe  artichokes I’m sharing here today however, are something you can feel great about eating. They are low in fat, calories, and packed with a protein boost from the quinoa.

This recipe came together one afternoon when I was trying to figure out what I was going to make for dinner with the stuff I had on hand. Quinoa (ready in 15 minutes) has become kind of my go-to backdrop on these kinds of days, where often times I throw together a saute of whatever vegetables are in the fridge and toss it together with a few herbs or chiles.

On this particular day,  I spotted the artichokes and decided my usual saute would make a really nice filling. Why not? —-Dinner was saved and we all loved the artichokes. I hope you will too!

quinoa stuffed artichokes

Quinoa, Corn,Spinach, & Sundried Tomato Stuffed Artichokes
Serves: 4
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ finely chopped shallots
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes (oil packed--drained)
  • Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup prepared pesto (good quality jarred or homemade)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 large artichokes, stems trimmed, thorns trimmed from leaves
  1. Heat water to boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer 1 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and sundried tomatoes; cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add corn and spinach, cooking an additional 2 minutes, until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add cooked quinoa to bowl with shallot mixture. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and pesto to bowl; toss well. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Using a spoon, stuff about 1 teaspoon of filling into the bottom of
  4. each artichoke leaf. Place artichokes in a vegetable steamer or into a large pan with a steamer basket insert and steam artichokes 45-50 minutes or until artichoke leaves release easily when pulled.



Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts: Recipe from an Edible Mosaic

If you are anything like me, the photo on the cover of this book made my mouth water as soon as I saw it.

The book,  An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair, was written by my friend Faith Gorsky from An Edible Mosaic . This new release is Faith’s first cookbook , and  I’m excited to be participating in her virtual book launch party and sharing a recipe from the book!

The book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. Faith has a pretty unique story…after getting married Faith spent six months living in the Middle East, where she fell in love with the culture and cuisine. Subsequently, she returned four more times for visits, each time delving deeper into the cuisine and deepening her passion for and appreciation of the region. Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but streamlined just a bit for the way we cook today, with unique ingredients demystified and cooking techniques anyone can follow. If you didn’t grow up eating Middle Eastern food, it can be a difficult art to master; Faith understands that, and explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. The book is available to order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

 After you check out the recipe below, please head over to Faith’s blog to check out her virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating. Also, as part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes. Be sure to head over and enter!
 The recipe from the book that I’m sharing with you today is for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts, along with a variation for Mixed White and Yellow Rice. The recipe is actually vegan so you won’t have any trouble incorporating it into a vegan or vegetarian meal, but it is just as delicious served with chicken, beef, lamb, or seafood, and it would be really fantastic with just about any curry dish. (In the cookbook, Faith recommends pairing Shrimp in Aromatic Tomato Sauce with this rice dish.)
I made this rice dish to go with one of my family’s favorite Middle Eastern dishes, Shish Taouk (chicken kebabs marinated in a yogurt/tomato/zataar mixture).
Faith’s rice dish was quick to put together, and complemented the kebabs beautifully. I can’t wait to work my way through the other recipes in the cookbook!


Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts



Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.


Serves 4 to 6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking


1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons pine nuts

1 onion, finely diced

4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)

1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)


  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
  4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.


OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.



Mixed White and Yellow Rice


Serves 4 to 6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking


1½ cups (325 g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

2 whole cloves

2 pods cardamom, cracked open

2 whole peppercorns

¾ teaspoon salt

1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water

1-2 pinches saffron threads or ½ teaspoon turmeric dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water


  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan, cover and place over moderately high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the rice, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the boiling water to the rice, turn heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil. Give it a stir, cover the pot, turn heat down to very low, and cook 10 minutes (don’t open the lid during this time).
  4. After the rice is cooked, let the pot sit with the lid on for 15 minutes, then fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer 1/3 of the rice to a separate bowl.
  5. Stir the saffron or turmeric-colored water into 1/3 of the rice (the rice will turn yellow). Mix together the yellow rice and white rice; serve.

Make Time to Take Tea (and Stilton Cucumber Sandwiches)

Porcelain Web 720 from Scarlett Killaly on Vimeo.

Don’t ask me how I came across this video. I think it was while on a search for tea party china, or serving dishes. Kind of a random find, but I am glad I took two minutes out to watch it because I enjoyed the artistic reminder that we all need to make time in our busy lives to take tea.




hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

This month, in honor of the recent conclusion of the Olympic games, our 5 Star Makeover group is making time for tea in a  virtual English tea party. Keeping tradition in mind, our instructions were to  create savory and/or sweet little bites to accompany the  tea. Assorted finger sandwiches, scones, Devonshire cream, jams, and tea breads are familiar treats served during this pre-dinner (typically between 3-5pm) snack.

Cucumber sandwiches are the first things that popped into my mind (and stayed there ) when I got started on this tea post, so that’s what I stayed with.  I have changed them up a bit straying from tradition and swapping the crustless white bread for savory Stilton biscuits. The biscuits are something I really love all on their own. The dough is super easy to make in the food processor. The slice and bake “logs” my be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week before baking, or in the freezer for one month.  If you haven’t already thought about this, they are really perfect with a glass of wine. Cheese and cracker all in one bite!

I have filled the biscuits with my version of a Benedictine spread (popular in the south), which is a cucumber/onion infused cream cheese. A slice of English cucumber adds a little bit of extra crunch. Simple and not too fussy; pretty much what we are looking for in an afternoon tea snack. I hope you will take tea with us all of us on Friday and enjoy the treats.

You will find a roundup of the recipes on Lazaro Cooks! and 5 Star Foodie, and can always check out what our 5 Star Makeover Group is cooking by following our Pinterest page.

Stilton Cucumber Sandwiches

3/4 pound Stilton cheese
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking sheet.

Place cheese and melted butter in bowl of food processor and pulse until well blended.  Add the poppy seeds and flour and process until the ball of dough forms.

Shape the dough into two logs, each about 10-inches long. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Slice the dough into rounds about one-quarter inch thick. Place the rounds on the baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, until browned on the bottom.  Cool the biscuits on a rack before serving.
Makes 50  biscuits

Benedictine Spread:
1 large cucumber
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon creme fraiche

Peel cucumber and grate over a cheese cloth, catching cucumber liquid into a small bowl. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the cucumber liquid; discarding remaining liquid and cucumber pulp.  Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor.

Stilton biscuits
Benedictine spread
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced

Spoon 1/2 teaspoon Benedictine Spread on the bottom side of 1 Stilton Biscuit. Place 1-2 slices of English cucumber on spread and top with a second biscuit (bottom side down). Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Makes 25 Sandwiches