Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Basil Salad Dressing : the only dressing I would make

If there is one food I would prefer buying from the grocery store rather than having it made at home is salad dressing. It just feels tedious after all the washing, rinsing, chopping and arranging the ingredients to yet  worry about the dressing. I prefer to buy organic balsamic and italian vinaigrette and ranch from the store that go with almost anything and get creative with the actual salad.

That being said, I haven't found a good basil dressing that compares to the one my mom makes at home. This recipe has been a family favorite for years.  Ever since it was aired in Ramadan by the Arabic talented  chef Manal Al-Alem 10 years ago. I used to eat this dressing by itself for a snack back home and it is one of the first "dishes" I impressed my husband with when we first got married and it is still his favorite.


  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except olive oil in the blender and mix until well combined. Add olive oil and mix. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator. 

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how i like it: this dressing is very light and fresh, perfect for summer or anytime you long for summer. It has that fresh basil taste with a  kick of heat. Store it in the refrigerator and the flavors will combine and marry  even more and it will taste even better. For the salad I had lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and carrots but you can add whatever you like. You can also make a  perfect quick pasta salad with it. Just combine thin spaghetti or whatever pasta you like with your favorite vegetables and a drizzle of the dressing and you've got lunch!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Taste of Home: Lentils Stock

Nine years ago, when I first came to the U.S with my husband, a girl with no experience in cooking whatsoever, there were few options to what we'll have for dinner. There was a restaurant, fast food, the only dish my husband knew and taught t me to prepare: baked salmon with rice. Sick of sea food and fast food, and unable to find halal meat in our small town we had to turn to vegetarian dishes.

Back in Kuwait, my mom would prepare a vegetarian dish at least once a week to take a break from eating meat everyday. I always hated it when she prepared lentils stock. But now I was desperate, and lentils stock seemed an easy dish for a novice cook.

It turned out amazing, and I was very proud of myself. It surprisingly  tasted like my mom's cooking that I almost cried. After months of being away from home, this was very comforting.

Now, whenever I make this dish I still remember those early days coming to the U.S. My early cooking adventure, and me calling my mom every half an hour for directions.  We try to eat vegetarian dishes at least once a week, and usually this is my dish of choice. Thankfully my daughters now like  lentils stock.

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how i like it:  this is a pretty simple, few ingredients dish. Because of that every element is important, especially the dried black lemon (dried lime) , which is an ingredient that is used a lot in arabic and middle eastern cooking. The lentils and the potatoes are more like "base" or earthy flavors, the black lemon is essential to give the dish that "kick" that it needs. If you can't find this ingredient, add lime juice at the end just before serving. Serve with basmati rice, greens and greek yogurt. This is also a pretty healthy and low fat dish.