Egyptian Falafel, the best recipe out there (t’aamiya)

falafel with greens It has been a frequent complaint when we go out to eat at Middle Eastern restaurants: “they just don’t make falafel like they do back in Egypt.” We have tried countless places, and although it still may taste good, it doesn’t ever taste the same. Oh, how I miss my Egyptian falafel. The memory of waking up in our Alexandria vacation home and finding my cheery grandfather walk into the dining room with some hot and fresh falafels wrapped in a greasy newspaper, along with some hot-out-of-the-oven pita bread is one of my best childhood experiences. I can almost smell it. 

2017-01-13sugarandgarlic2017-9 falafel towerHere, in the U.S., it is easy to find falafel everywhere. It is even in our local grocery stores. Falafel is such a loved favorite by all because it is a healthy, flavorful, vegetarian and vegan protein based dish. In metro-Detroit where I grew up, and in Chicago where I currently reside, it is even easier to find a wide variety of falafel dishes in endless cafes, restaurants, and diners. But why can’t I still enjoy that same nostalgic scent and flavor of falafels in Alexandria?

I finally figured out what is different. The falafel so well known here is that which hails from the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) and it is primarily made with chickpeas. Now don’t get me wrong, these chickpea based falafel recipes are still delicious with all their variations and spices from each chef. But that is why it always tasted so different to us.

Egyptian falafel is not made with chickpeas, it is made with fava beans! Ah hah! Here is the key difference and why it has never tasted the same to me. We also load it up with greens for flavor such as cilantro, parsley, and leeks. So there you have it; it wasn’t a special oil, a pan, or even certain contaminants from the Egyptian cooking environment as we have often joked :D. The Egyptian falafel is greener, crispier, and flakier. In Cairo they call it T’aamiya, but if you are in Alexandria they still call it falafel. My dad and his family is from Cairo, and my mother’s side is from Alexandria so we use both names, interchangably. That is the beauty of blending cultures; you have a richer experience and vocabulary 🙂 And this here, is the best falafel recipe out there, demystified.

To make falafel, we do not use the brown fava beans as used in my ful mudammas recipe. Instead, you need peeled, large fava beans. These are sometimes labeled habas beans. I was lucky to find some in the bulk section at Whole Foods. Bob’s Red Mill also sells the correct larger, peeled bean. They should look like this: 

habas beans

Peeled fava beans, also knows as habas beans.

The beans need to soak in water for at least half a day, preferably overnight. The beans do not get cooked soft, but only pulsed in a food processor before frying or baking. So the soaking is very important. The soaking also helps remove some of the unwanted by-product in the beans that our bodies do not digest well and may cause bloating. So, step 1: soak the beans!

falafel ingredientsThe greens used in the recipe give this falafel a really fresh and flavorful bite. It is crispier and lighter than the chickpea variation. Because there is a lot of liquid from the onion and fresh herbs, you need some type of flour to bind the falafel together. I love using garbanzo bean flour, which is really just ground chickpeas. The flavors combine perfectly, and keeps the recipe gluten-free. You can also find ground chickpea flour from Bob’s. Some chopped white onion, cilantro (with stems), parsley, and leek go into this falafel dough for a fresh and green patty. It is fine to add the cilantro and parsley leaves along with garlic into the food processor with the beans, but it is better to finely chop the onion and leek so that the mixture does not get too much water.

leek and garlic

The leek…

chopped leekWhen blending the ingredients slowly pulse the beans until they are like a grainy texture, with no large chunks. Be careful not to puree it into a paste. It won’t hold together into a patty if you do. Once everything is blended, you may begin to combine all ingredients for the dough. Add the spices: cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Cayenne is a great addition if you want some kick, but I keep the heat down for my kids.

falafel spices falafel doughOnce all the ingredients are combined (except for the baking soda), you may either pack away the falafel “dough” into freezer bags for later use, or if you are ready to fry them, prepare for shaping the patties.

Do not put the baking soda in while storing the dough. Only add baking soda when ready to fry.

Do not put the baking soda in while storing the dough. Only add baking soda when ready to fry.

When the falafel will be shaped into patties to fry, you need to add 1 tsp of baking soda per 1 cup of dough. Use about 2 teaspoons of dough to roll into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Roll in sesame on both sides and set onto a plate until ready to fry. I fry mine in a combination of sunflower, grapeseed, and olive oil, but you could use any frying oil you like.

falafel patties falafel patties sesame on falafel frying falafelIt is basically compulsory to eat falafel with tahini. The sauce smothers the falafel with the right amount of juicy zest, and makes any sandwich better. Tahini to falafel is like ketchup to potato fries. My cilantro tahini is perfect for falafel. Simply whisk the lime juice into the tahini. Add the minced garlic and cilantro, and whisk in the water until the tahini is the desired consistency. For some reason blending the tahini makes it get hard. So only use a whisk. Drizzle over your falafel sandwich, or simply dip the falafels in and enjoy. :p

falafels falafel sandwich falafel with tahini

Egyptian Falafel
A flavorful and crunchy homemade falafel recipe full of greens and spices!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
5 min
For the falafel
  1. 3 cups habas beans (peeled and soaked overnight)
  2. 1/2 white onion, finely chopped (1.5 cups)
  3. 1 bunch of cilantro leaves and stems
  4. 1 bunch of parsley leaves
  5. 4 large cloves of garlic (or more to taste)
  6. 1 leek
  7. 2 tsp salt (more to taste)
  8. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  9. 1 tsp ground coriander
  10. 1/4 tsp cumin
  11. 1/4 tsp white pepper
  12. 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  13. 1.5 cups chickpea flour
  14. 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  15. 1/2 tsp of baking soda (for frying only)
  16. 3 cups of sunflower or canola oil (or any oil you prefer for frying)
  17. sumac for garnish
  18. pita bread to serve
For the tahini
  1. 1/2 tahini paste
  2. 1/4 c lime juice
  3. 1/4 c water
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 2 tbsp minced cilantro
For the falafel
  1. After soaking overnight, rinse the fava/habas beans with cold water and drain well.
  2. Thoroughly wash the parsley and cilantro. Remove the parsley leaves from the stems, and discard the stems.
  3. Trim off the bottoms of the cilantro stems and discard, but keep the tops of the stems near the leaves.
  4. In a food processor, combine the beans with the parsley, cilantro, and garlic cloves.
  5. Peel the outer leaves of the leek and wash well. Roughly chop the leek and add to the bean mixture. Pulse in a food processor until the bean and herb mixture is grainy like sand. You will likely need to pulse in a few batches to fit it all, so that you do not process parts of the beans too much. Be careful not to puree to a paste.
  6. Stir in the spices and chopped onions.
  7. Slowly stir in the chickpea flour so that you have a moldable dough with no excess water. If it is too watery, add more chickpea flour.
  8. Separate the dough into baggies to refrigerate or freeze for later, or you may fry it all at once to yield several dozens.
  9. Only use the baking soda right before cooking the dough, not for storage. Stir in 1/2 tsp of baking soda for every cup of falafel dough you will cook. Roll into balls, then flatten lightly. Roll the patty in a plate of sesame seeds and set aside on a platter until ready to fry.
  10. Heat the oil in a medium pot on medium-high heat. The oil is ready when you drop a crumb of dough into it, and it sizzles and turns golden quickly. Once hot, turn the heat down to medium and place about 6-8 falafels into the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and set onto a towel to drain. Serve hot and eat immediately!
Tahini
  1. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Dip the falafels in tahini and enjoy! Bil hana wil shifaa!
Notes
  1. Like potato fries, falafel tastes best served immediately. It is best to only fry a small amount that will be consumed immediately, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. Store in the fridge for 3 days maximum.
  2. When using a frozen bag of falafel dough, allow it to thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour.
  3. Serve the falafel with the tahini sauce, sliced tomatoes, green onions, and cucumbers, and of course, with some pita bread.
  4. Bil Hana!
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Easy Bruschetta (tomato basil)

bruschetta

Bruschetta has lately become one of my favorite appetizers and sides to share for dinner parties or casual gatherings. It is easy, healthy, delicious, and serves beautifully as an hors d’oeuvre (or an appetizer if you want to keep it ‘cas’). I make my bruschetta with three main ingredients: sweet and juicy tomatoes, fresh and fragrant basil, and of course, garlic. I serve my bruschetta atop some freshly toasted slices of baguettes, topped with fresh mozzarella and freshly ground pepper. 

My secret ingredient is roasted garlic. I use plenty of garlic in this recipe, and I roast 3-4 cloves in the oven to impart a surprisingly sweet and rustic flavor to this dip. I simply wrap a few large, plump garlic cloves in foil and set them in the oven at 400 degrees (F) for about 10-15 minutes.  I use almost equal amounts of basil as tomatoes, and drizzle on some good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

roasted garlic juicy tomatoes and garlic

I can eat a whole bowl of this as a salad, guilt-free. This dish is so perfect in the summer when I can use my garden fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and freshly picked basil. Our summer tomatoes that start as measly little stems from the farmer’s market for $3, flourish into jungle-like vines of endless, plump, juicy tomatoes that we don’t know what the heck to do with! Hence, this timely salad. Although not timely with my blog publication in the winter, this recipe is still amazing any time of the year. I promise, this appetizer is equally delicious throughout the winter, and I have been making it more often because of all the holiday and family gatherings. I finely dice the tomatoes into cubes, as I would for tabbouli, or I if using cherry tomatoes, I cut them into quarters. It is important to separate the extra juice and seeds from the tomatoes; this prevents an overly soppy bruschetta. Scooping the juicy seeds to the side and slurping later, works perfectly fine for us!

tomatoes and basil marinated tomatoes

The tomatoes get marinated with balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper, onion powder, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. The basil is not merely a topping, but is an essential partner to mingle with the tomatoes. The fresh flavors are just WOW. 

bruschetta bruschetta on bread

I don’t feel the need to toast bread in oil, but instead set them onto my panini grill and press them for a a couple of minutes until golden and toasted. Any method works fine!

bruschetta

Enjoy!

Bruschetta
A juicy, zesty, and deliciously savory blend of tomatoes, basil, and garlic served over crunchy baguette slices or crackers.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4-5 firm, but ripe tomatoes (2 cups chopped)
  2. 1.5 cup of basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. freshly ground pepper, to taste
  8. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  9. 1/2 tsp oregano
  10. optional: fresh mozzarella sliced into rounds
  11. 1-2 fresh baguettes, sliced diagonally into rounds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (f).
  2. Wrap 3 of the garlic cloves loosely in foil and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
  3. Dice the tomatoes into small cubes, separating the juicy parts and seeds to the side.
  4. Separate the basil leaves, and layer several basil leaves into a single stack. Roll, and slice thinly into long strips. Chop strips into smaller pieces if they are too long. Repeat until all the basil is thinly sliced.
  5. Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and smash it in the bottom of a medium sized bowl.
  6. Add the tomatoes. Mince the remaining fresh garlic cloves and toss them with the tomatoes in the bowl.
  7. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices, and stir well. Add the basil. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before serving.
  8. On a grill pan or regular pan add olive oil, and toast the slices of baguette until golden.
  9. Spoon a dollop of bruschetta onto the toasted bread, add a piece of mozzarella, and top with freshly ground pepper.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Peanut butter energy bites are a delicious and healthy snack packed with protein and healthy whole grains and seeds. This treat is 100% nut free because my dear husband has a tree-nut allergy. If you are wondering about the peanut butter, well it is a common misconception that they are nuts. Peanuts are a legume, a seed that grows underground. So my highly allergic-to-nuts husband often enjoys peanuts and peanut butter to most observers’ surprise. These peanut butter bites are deliciously sweetened with honey and dates, as well as chocolate chips and dried cranberries or cherries. Similar to my date truffles, these peanut butter bites are a healthy source of energy and protein, so they make a great snack in Ramadan when Muslims fast for long hours, or between meals in a very busy schedule. The recipe is a quick and easy no bake one that you could complete in under 15 minutes.

peanut butter balls

medjool dates

My kids always make these with me. In fact, my inspiration behind these come from my own childhood. Back in the 1980s when television was full of great, wholesome shows like Mr. Rogers, Fredd Penner, and Mr. Dress Up, we learned how to make a delicious and easy treat called “peanut butter balls” from Mr. Rogers. I don’t recall exactly what was in it, but it involved peanut butter, honey, and raisins to some extent. So this recipe is credited to Mr. Rogers, and it is one that conjures up nostalgic childhood memories for me. I further enhance the recipe with the use of dates, a superfood. Dates have numerous minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, to name a few. Their additional nutritional benefits include being a heart healthy, fiber rich fruit, and a source of healthy sugars or carbs to fuel you up. The natural sweetness of the date imparts a perfect caramel flavor to this recipe. I soak the pitted dates in hot water and smash (or blend) them into a paste to incorporate into the peanut butter. A touch of honey also gets whipped into the peanut butter until I have a nicely sweetened creamy base.

spoon of dripping honey

spoon of honey

I add some crunch with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, a sweet and tart bite with the cranberries and cherries, and some heart healthy fiber with oats. Additional flavors such as chocolate chips are optional, and you can also experiment with alternative additives like coconut, white chocolate, carob chips, raisins, dried blueberries, sesame seeds, or tree nuts.

oats, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter

 

 

I let my kids roll these into balls, because this is so fun for them! Besides, this was the way we learned to make peanut butter balls from Mr. Rogers. When I make these for friends or to store as a snack for a few weeks, I prefer to lay it into a rectangular pan and then cut them into bars. Either way, they are deliciously scrumptious! Here is a treat you don’t need to feel guilty about!

child rolling balls

peanut butter bars

peanut butter bars

peanut butter bar

Peanut butter bites
A healthy and delicious energy treat that is so easy to make!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cups peanut butter
  2. 1/2 cup raw honey
  3. 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  4. 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (peeled)
  5. 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  6. 1/2 cup of Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water then blended or mashed
  7. 1/2 c chocolate chips
  8. 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, and dates together. Add all other ingredients and stir well.
  2. Roll into balls or spread in a pyrex pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Adapted from Mr. Rogers
Adapted from Mr. Rogers
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Green Bean Stew (Fasulya)

Green bean stew

Serve over rice or your favorite grain.

 

This is such a delicious and simple recipe, you will want to add it to your favorites and quick dinners repertoire. The recipe is a classic Egyptian stew eaten in most Middle Eastern homes throughout various countries in the region. There are sure to be variations, but the main ingredients along with the green beans are crushed tomatoes seasoned with onions, garlic, and crushed coriander seed. Some people cook this with lamb or beef stew, and others keep it entirely vegetarian. I prefer to prepare this flavorful stews as a vegetarian recipe whenever possible as I am trying to be a more conscious consumer and cut down on the amount of meat butchered in the world, both for environmental and health reasons. Besides, dishes like this fasulya, my Sipinagh (spinach stew), mulokhia, or stuffed zucchini and peppers are already so tasty and hearty without the meat; you really do not need it. 

You need green beans, of course. Because these are the main ingredient, and play the starring role, these guys need to be of superb quality. Some people use frozen cut green beans, which is fine. If you do use frozen, make sure it is cut only horizontally (not french cut).  French cut green beans are thinly sliced, or julienne, vertically which is too thin for this stew, and all the juicy little beans will leak out, making a stringy mess of a stew. You want a nice full green bean, simply cut in half to be shorter in length. 

fresh cut green beans

Cut the green beans in half, or in thirds if they are long.

Fasulya ingredients

Green beans, onions, garlic, and tomato sauce.

While using frozen may be faster and more convenient, you will really enjoy this dish with some freshly picked, crunchy summer green beans! Simply cut off the stemmy ends and cut in half, or in thirds if the bean is particularly long. This is really the most tedious part of the recipe (which isn’t all too tedious at all), so you may want to enlist some help from the kids to do this part (a plastic knife works fine). My kids love to help and are more likely to eat when they have “cooked” the meal; so try to include the children whenever possible.  

The stew is ready to be prepared once you have a crushed tomato sauce from either freshly blended tomatoes or a jar of crushed tomatoes. You will sauté the onions and garlic with the coriander, until fragrant. If meat is being used, you also add it in the beginning to brown it, before adding the tomatoes.  Once the onions and coriander have scented your kitchen and have sizzled golden, pour in the crushed tomatoes. In Egyptian kitchens, the infamous chicken bouillon cube called Maggi is often used. I have forbidden this mysterious and magical concoction of MSG and sodium from my kitchen for a variety of reasons, so I use good ole’ chicken broth instead. I use Saffron Road’s Artisan Roasted chicken broth which flavors the stew perfectly. Let it simmer until all the flavors have come together and add the cut green beans for the last 20-30 minutes of cook time. 

 

Serve with rice or your favorite grain, and enjoy!

Green Bean Stew (Fasulya)
A hearty and flavorful tomato broth stew with savory green beans, onions, and garlic.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 pounds fresh green beans, stems cut off ends
  2. 1.5 cup crushed tomatoes
  3. 1 tbsp crushed coriander seed
  4. 1 large onion, diced (3/4 cup diced)
  5. 3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  6. 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  9. 1 tbsp olive oil
  10. 1.5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  11. 1 lb meat or lamb stew (optional) + 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper
  12. fresh cilantro leaves and stems for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Wash the green beans thoroughly, and cut in half to shorten the length. It may be necessary to cut some into thirds if they are long. Do not cut vertically.
  2. Sautee the onions in the olive oil, over medium-high heat until yellow. Slowly stir in the crushed coriander seed, until fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spice.
  3. If you are cooking with stew meat, add it now with the salt and pepper and brown.
  4. Add the crushed and sliced garlic. Stir well as garlic browns quickly and may burn. Add the crushed tomatoes before the garlic burns.
  5. Add water if you are cooking meat. If no meat, simply add the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  6. If you are cooking with meat, simmer for an hour. If you did not add meat, allow the sauce to simmer for 10-15 minutes before adding the green beans.
  7. Add the green beans and a few stems of cilantro for flavor and simmer on medium for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Taste the sauce and season with more salt if needed. Remove the cilantro stems after cooking if you do not want to eat the stems.
  8. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
Notes
  1. If you added meat, the cook time will increase. The sauce will need to be diluted with more water to allow enough liquid for the meat to cook well. Let the sauce simmer for at least an hour before adding the green beans.
Adapted from Mom and Neveen Aref
Adapted from Mom and Neveen Aref
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Green Blender Review

Raspberries, cranberries, apple, goji berries, and walnuts.

Raspberries, cranberries, apple, goji berries, and walnuts.

orange carrot smoothie

orange carrot smoothie

Oranges, goji berries, carrots, cashews, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

 

I’ve always been into smoothies and juicing, but every once in a while I fall out of routine.  Then my Vitamix just SITS there. After all, it takes time to plan to purchase all the fresh produce you need for smoothies, and then it takes more effort to think of new or creative ways to blend up some concoctions that actually taste great. So naturally, when I heard about Green Blender, I was intrigued. It’s a food delivery that provides you with at least 5 different smoothie recipes and all the ingredients you need to make them. They source their ingredients responsibly with almost all produce being organic, and everything is non-Gmo. The best part though is their incorporation of superfood supplements for protein and nutrients so that I can try new things I have never heard of and would certainly never think to purchase on my own. In just two deliveries you get to try unique ingredients such as  camu camu (the most potent source of vitamin C), matcha green tea, yacon root, quinoa flakes, goji berries, maqui berries, chlorella, and ginseng. The recipes also teach you to incorporate a variety of nuts into your smoothies to boost your protein and nutrient intake. I just love that!

Superfood supplements

The recipes are really unique too and taste great. They provide a delicious range of flavors you wouldn’t think to pair. For example one of my favorite green smoothies I’ve tried is with squash, spinach, banana and tahini! It’s a sweet and creamy blend with a hint of cinnamon. My absolute favorite out of everything I have tried, is the persimmon mango. This is one tropical and delicious treat loaded with vitamin C, and who doesn’t need that boost at this dreadful time of year?

Mango, persimmon, cantaloupe, walnuts, camu camu

Mango, persimmon, cantaloupe, walnuts, camu camu

The box delivers in a thermal ice box and will stay fresh for at least a few hours until you get home to receive your fresh ingredients. Everything is already prepped and portioned, which is a great bonus!

Green blender unboxing

Green blender unboxing

Unboxing of my fresh ingredients.

Unboxing of my fresh ingredients.

Butter pecan smoothie

The butter pecan smoothie!

So go ahead and give Green Blender a try, whether you don’t have the time or energy to buy and prepare what you need, simply need new inspirations like I did, or are just plain lazy, these smoothie deliveries are going to get you right on track! You do need your own blender, or you could rent/buy a VitaMix blender from GreenBlender.com. I use Vitamix and I highly recommend it; their patented push stick makes all the difference in achieving a smooth and silky texture when larger products are built up at the top of the blender. You can skip or cancel deliveries whenever you want. And now as one of my readers you can get 20% with this code: sugarandgarlic. Enjoy!

Roasted Sumac Chicken (Mediterranean Chicken)

Garnish with sumac sprinkled on top for an extra citrus kick.

Garnish with sumac sprinkled on top for an extra citrus kick.

I was in the mood for a delicious roasted chicken. I love the flavor of sumac with onions so I decided to rub a fresh whole roaster all over with some of these fantastic flavors. The result was a juicy, incredibly flavorful chicken! I surrounded the chicken with yellow potatoes and plenty of onion slices, which are very important for delivering that delicious citrusy sumac flavor. This dish is reminiscent of a popular chicken dish from the Levant, called Mm’sakhan (yes, pronounced with a mmmm in the beginning for good reason 😉 ). Mm’sakhan also involves some delicious toasted pita bread and pine nuts…but that is another post. This roasted sumac chicken is an incredibly easy dish to prepare with the same great flavors. It takes less than 10 minutes to dress the chicken, and then you just let the magic happen in the oven while you do a few other things.

Sumac is a gorgeous reddish-purple Middle Eastern spice that comes from crushed flowers. You can find sumac spice in an international or Middle Eastern store (obviously), as well as some specialty stores that carry international spices. I could not find it at the local Whole Foods, however. Sumac is also that special spice Arabs use in zaatar bread, spinach pies, and Arabic salad dressings such as Fattoush. It has a strong citrusy, tangy flavor that is perfect over chicken or fish. Every chef should include sumac in their culinary repertoire!

Sumac

First I dressed the chicken with a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and a lot of sumac and paprika. Then I also generously rubbed sumac and paprika ALL OVER the chicken. It is essential to rub underneath the skin, right onto the flesh. This gets the chicken’s flavors to really stand out and keeps it very juicy and delicious. Be sure to surround the chicken with plenty of sliced onions and sprinkle them as well with the seasoning.

 

Surround the chicken with potato wedges and sliced onions.

Surround the chicken with potato wedges and sliced onions.

Mix lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, sumac, crushed garlic, and olive oil to dress the chicken.

Mix lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, sumac, crushed garlic, and olive oil to dress the chicken.

roasted sumac chicken

Stuff the chicken with onions and the remaining lemon halves, to infuse the chicken as it roasts.

Cover the chicken with foil, and let it roast for 1-2 hours, depending on its size. Then remove the foil at the end and let it broil for about 10 more minutes to get a nice golden crust. Be careful not to scorch or dry out the chicken. I find it well worth it to purchase a meat thermometer, so that you could measure when you reach the desired internal temperature (160 F) and not overcook the chicken.

 

 

roasted sumac chicken roasted sumac chicken

 roasted sumac Chicken

Roasted Sumac Chicken
A delicious citrusy roasted chicken, surrounded by lemony potatoes and tangy onions.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr 15 min
Total Time
2 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. one whole roaster chicken (pasture raised is best), neck and insides removed
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1-2 lemons, juiced
  4. 3 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp pepper
  6. 2 tsp paprika
  7. 3 tbsp sumac, plus garnish
  8. 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  9. 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  10. 1 lb yellow potatoes cut into medium wedges
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and place the rack in the center.
  2. Place the chicken in a large oven-safe dish, and surround it with the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over everything.
  3. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, crushed garlic,1 tablespoon of sumac, 1 teaspoon of paprika, remaining salt and pepper, and the olive oil. Pour evenly all over the chicken, rubbing some underneath the skin.
  4. Use the remaining sumac and paprika and rub it directly onto the chicken skin, as well as underneath it. Sprinkle sumac on the potatoes and onions as well.
  5. Put the leftover lemon halves and some onions inside the cavity of the chicken, to infuse it as it roasts.
  6. Cover with foil and roast for 90 minutes-2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees F. Once internal temperature is achieved, remove foil and broil under high for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is golden.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  8. Sprinkle chicken pieces with sumac to garnish when serving.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Khoshaf (Dried fruit salad) خشاف

apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, and almonds

 

This is a common starter in Egyptian homes during the months of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, which during these long summer days is over 16 hours long! When we break our fast, it is the tradition of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) to break the fast on a date and water. This dried fruit compote reflects that tradition, but it also combines other highly nutritional dried fruits and nuts. Dates are well utilized in the Muslim world as they are recognized for their high mineral content: calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, and zinc are all packed into this tiny superfood. Dates are also a supreme source of fiber and energy, and their sugars are low glycemic, releasing slowly and steadily into your body (which is a great thing for sustaining energy while fasting!). Dried apricots are also a super star in this fruit compote; they are packed with carotenoids, iron, potassium and fiber. This fruit salad compote is not only a very refreshing and nutritious way to break your fast (or start it). It is a delicious and sweet juice cocktail to enjoy, but you will need a spoon! The juice taste like an apricot drink scented with almonds and dates. I like to add extra apricot juice to the water to boost the color and flavor, but this is not necessarily traditional to the recipe. Apricot juice however, is another very popular drink enjoyed in the Middle East during Ramadan, but that is another recipe post! The dried fruits in khoshaf get very plump and juicy because they reconstitute themselves as they soak in water for a few hours before serving. 

The ingredients are very basic and easy to find; I collect them all on the same shelf at the grocery store where the dried fruits are, except for the dates. I do not recommend using chopped dates or already pitted dates, because they seem to be drier for some reason. They ar not as fresh either. We use organic Medjool dates that are very plump and sweet (Whole Foods and Costco have some of the best ones I have found). You should always slice the date open first to make sure it is clean, and also to remove the pit!

pitted dates

 

khoshaf ingredients

First, you will add boiling water to the apricots, raisins, and prunes. You could also add dried figs if you like, but I do not because I personally do not prefer the texture of figs and their seeds in this compote. 

khoshaf

Once the water and dried fruit mixture cools, you can add the chopped dates and stir in cold sugar water and sliced almonds. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled. As I mentioned, this is a great drink or fruit salad to break your fast on because the dates and other dried fruits will replenish the body with several nutrients and minerals. This compote is hailed to be more nourishing and hydrating than water alone. So give it a try if you have been fasting, or if you simply need to replenish your body after a workout or marathon!

khoshaf

Khoshaf: Dried Fruit Salad
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c sliced, pitted dates
  2. 1/2 c golden raisins
  3. 3/4 c dried apricots
  4. 3/4 c prunes
  5. 1/2 peeled and slivered almonds
  6. 2-3 cups of boiling water
  7. 1 cup cold water
  8. 1/4 c sugar
  9. 1 cup apricot juice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash the dried fruits.
  2. Place the apricots, prunes, and raisins in a large serving bowl or pitcher.
  3. Pour boiling water over the fruits so that they are covered in water. There should be an inch of water above the level of the fruit.
  4. Once the water has cooled, dissolve the sugar with cold water and pour over the fruit mixture and stir. Add the dates, almonds, and apricot juice.
  5. Serve chilled in a large serving bowl and ladle, or in individual dessert cups or bowls. Drink with a spoon!
Notes
  1. You may also add figs to the dried fruits. Try adding other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts as well! This compote is very flexible to your personal tastes and preferences!
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Malfoof or Mahshy Krom-b)

stuffed cabbage, or malfoof

 One of the best dishes to originate from Middle Eastern cuisine, this delicious and savory blend of rice, fresh herbs and tomatoes wrapped in a juicy cabbage leaf will leave everyone begging for more! This healthy dish is easily an all time favorite and comfort food for many people. While making it is no simple feat, once you get through peeling and prepping the cabbage leaves the rest of this recipe is one of the easiest! Really. 

In Egypt, we call this dish “Mahshy Kromb”[Mah-shee Ko-romB], which literally means “stuffed cabbage”. In most else of the Arab world, particularly the Levant region, this dish is called “malfoof”, which literally means “rolled” or “wrapped”. Another important difference in this dish prepared in Egypt versus the rest of the Arab world, is that we make it completely vegetarian and full of aromatic herbs. However, in Palestine and Syria for example, it is usually prepared with meat. I of course, combine the best of both worlds. Although I must say I actually prefer the flavor of the vegetarian version; the singular focus on herbs is more flavorful and fragrant than its meat counterpart. In this I combine dill, parsley, and cilantro with rice sautéed in tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cumin with some lean ground beef. This is one delectable dish everyone MUST try!

cabbage and vegetables

fresh ingredients

 The first step is to prepare the stuffing mixture. If you are adding beef, you want to leave enough time for the rice mixture to completely cool off before adding the raw meat so that it doesn’t begin to partially cook in the warm temperature of the rice. If you aren’t adding beef, you still want this mixture to cool off so that you can stuff the cabbage leaves easily and not scorch your fingers. Sauté the onions, garlic, and tomatoes in olive oil until they are soft, fragrant, and begin to yellow a bit. Toss in the rice and tomato paste so that it is all well coated. You then add all the chopped fresh herbs. At this point it will smell incredible; try to refrain from eating all the stuffing mixture. Remember we still need to stuff the cabbage leaves before you enjoy this 😉 Set aside to cool.

Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil.

Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil.

...add tomatoes

…add tomatoes

Stir in the rice and tomato paste.

Stir in the rice and tomato paste.

Add the rice, herbs, and tomato paste. Yum! It smells amazing at this point.

Add the  herbs, and tomato paste. Yum! It smells amazing at this point.

Now you need to prepare your cabbage leaves. The trick to success here is picking the right cabbage and separating the leaves. Finding a “good” cabbage with tender leaves seems to be all luck, at least in Chicago. Reportedly, there are much better cabbages to use in the Middle East and it is very hard to come by them here in the US. The leaves of the cabbages grown here are larger, thicker, and coarser. Nonetheless, you can find a good cabbage by picking a young green one, with what looks like softer, smaller leaves. But again, its all luck-for me and many I know anyway. If you have a good source for picking or buying the right cabbage, please do share it below! I happen to find the best cabbages at a Middle Eastern market or Mexican grocery store, so if you have any in your neighborhood definitely check those out.  As for separating the leaves, I have a very simple way to do so. You need a large enough pot to submerge the cabbage in water, a knife, a fork, and tongs. I first core out the rough center of the cabbage with a knife and pull it out. After washing thoroughly, and pulling off the rough outer leaves, I boil the cabbage for about 3 minutes. Then using tongs and a fork, I start to pull away the leaves and placing them in a colander to drain. You do not want to cook down the leaves in this step! We are simply blanching them to facilitate the separation of the leaves and to slightly soften them. 

how to core a cabbage

Cut around the core on the bottom, and push the knife in deeper each time you circle around.

How to core a cabbage

Then pull the core out, by wiggling it out with the knife and your fingers.

green cabbage

Pull off the outer leaves.

Boil the cabbage for only 3 minutes.

Boil the cabbage for only 3 minutes.

2014-12-08sugarandgarlic2014-3

 

Begin to pull the leaves off with tongs and a fork.

Begin to pull the leaves off with tongs and a fork. 

Allow the leaves to cool and drain for a few minutes.

Allow the leaves to cool and drain for a few minutes.

Prepare the leaf by cutting off or shaving down the thick stem of the leaf.

Prepare the leaf by cutting off or shaving down the thick stem of the leaf.

If it is a large leaf, just cut it into two pieces and remove the thick stalk in the center.

If it is a large leaf, just cut it into two pieces and remove the thick stalk in the center.

 Once you have the leaves prepared, it’s smooth sailing from here. Kids can help with the rest; it’s that easy. Place a spoon of the rice mixture in the center, and roll the leaves up like a tight cigar or burrito. Line the bottom of the pot with several thick slices of potatoes to protect the cabbage from scorching, and begin to stack the rolled cabbage leaves, filling up one layer at a time. 

fill the cabbage leaf

rolling cabbage leaves 2014-12-08sugarandgarlic2014-46 2014-12-08sugarandgarlic2014-47 2014-12-08sugarandgarlic2014-52 2014-12-08sugarandgarlic2014-53 stack the cabbage leaves into a pot

Finally, pour the cooking liquid (tomato sauce, water, and seasoning) over the rolled leaves and cook to perfection. After the pot comes to a boil, simmer on low for about 35 minutes. Cooking time varies so watch the liquid so that you do not burn your delicate cabbage rolls! 

Cover the leaves with a plate while it boils to keep everything in place.

Cover the leaves with a plate while it boils to keep everything in place.

Remove the plate once you turn down the heat, and cover with a lid.

Remove the plate once you turn down the heat, and cover with a lid.

The cooked product, after about 35 minutes. Cooking time varies so watch the liquid so that you do not burn your delicate cabbage rolls!

The cooked product, after about 35 minutes. Cooking time varies so watch the liquid so that you do not burn your delicate cabbage rolls!

Congratulations! You have made one of the most delicious dishes ever invented.  

2014-12-08sugarandgarlic2014-37

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (malfoof)
Serves 4
A flavorful and delectable treat enjoyed through out the Middle East, featuring an herb savory rice filling wrapped in sweet cabbage leaves.
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Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1-2 green cabbages
  2. 2 c medium grain rice
  3. 2 bunch of dill (1 c chopped)
  4. 1-2 bunch of parsley (1 c chopped)
  5. 1 bunch of cilantro (1/2 c chopped)
  6. 1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh, not canned)
  7. 3 tbsp tomato paste
  8. 1 tsp cumin, plus 1/2 tsp for cooking liquid
  9. 1 tsp coriander
  10. 2 tsp salt, plus 1 tsp extra if adding meat
  11. 1 tsp black pepper, plus 1 tsp extra if adding meat
  12. 1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  13. 1-2 onions, diced
  14. 1 lb lean ground beef (optional)
  15. 3 tbsp olive oil
  16. 3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, over medium heat, sauté the chopped onions in 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft. Add the garlic once the onions begins to soften. Add the diced tomatoes, rice, and spices (cumin, coriander, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp of black pepper). Stir well until well coated.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste to the mixture and stir well. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Add all of the chopped parsley, dill, and cilantro to the rice mixture.
  4. If adding beef, add it to the rice mixture only after it has completely cooled so that you do not partially cook the meat in the heat of the rice (this will make an unfavorable smell and texture). Add the extra salt and pepper to the beef. If you want to make some cabbage without meat, skip the meat for now, and add it later.
  5. In a large stock pot, boil enough water to cover the entire cabbage when immersed.
  6. Cut out the core of the cabbage and remove any thick outer leaves. Wash it very well.
  7. Immerse the cabbage into the pot of water and allow it to boil for only about 2-3 minutes. Then begin to pull off leaves using a fork and tongs. Place each leaf you pull off into a colander to drain. Continue doing this until you have removed all the leaves. Rinse off with cold water and set aside to drain.
  8. Take one leaf at a time to prepare for rolling. Shave off the thick stalk of the cabbage leaf (see picture), or you may completely cut out the stem with a knife, leaving a v-shaped opening in the leaf. Simply overlap the two sides of the leaf to close this gap. If the leaf is large enough, you could even cut it into two smaller leaves.
  9. Place the leaf on a plate, with the vines of the leaf against the plate. Place a tablespoon of the rice mixture onto the leaf, and roll up like a burrito or cigar. There is no need to fold in the sides as the leaves are thick and will hold shape. However, I like to fold in the sides halfway through my roll, just to keep them all neat and nice :)
  10. Place each rolled leaf into a wide and deep pot, lined with potato slices on the bottom to prevent the leaves from scorching and sticking.
  11. After you have stacked all the cabbage leaves in the pot, prepare the cooking liquid. Combine 2 cups of water with 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp of cumin, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of tomato paste.
  12. Cover the cabbage leaves with a weighted plate, so that they do not float and move around and become undone when you pour the liquid over. Slowly pour the liquid over the plate until it sifts through down to the cabbage leaves and covers them.
  13. Turn the heat on to medium-high and allow the pot to come to a boil. Once it boils, turn it down to low and remove the plate carefully with tongs (its hot!). Cover with a lid and cook for about 30-45 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  14. Allow the cabbage rolls to cool for about 15 minutes, then serve warm.
  15. Bil hana wil Shifaa! (With health and healing!)
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

 

Egyptian Mulokhia, a super food (Jews mallow; Jute leaves)

jews mallow, jute, mulokhia

Mulokhia, or Jews Mallow is a popular dish in Egypt.

Do you know about this super food? This dish is a classic favorite for Egyptians and is prepared in its uniquely flavored broth and usually served over rice, or with pita bread. Its savory, garlicky flavor is an instant hit and its slipper texture makes it perfect for use in soup and sauces. This dish is outstanding in flavor, and less known for how incredibly nutritious it is, and most importantly very easy to prepare! Mulokhia leaves are incredibly nutrient dense leafy greens full of  phytonutrients that support heart health, immunity, bone health, and anti-inflammation, which may be why this dish used to only be served to the royals and Pharaohs of Egypt.  These super greens are said to have more beta carotene and calcium than spinach, kale, and broccoli, and are also rich in Vitamins A, C, E, K as well as selenium and iron. If only Popeye knew about these leaves!

Mulokhia is not commonly grown or sold in the US, but it is easy to find in the frozen aisle of any Middle Eastern market, as it is a staple. The frozen leaves tastes just as great and as fresh, and they are a lot easier than all the work of picking and mincing. There are two kinds of mulokhia in the frozen aisle, and for this Egyptian version you must use the minced leaves, not the whole. 

 mulokhia, molokhia molokhia with chicken

Mulokhia is one of the first greens I have introduced to both of my babies, and they absolutely LOVED it. It is perfect for babies starting solids because it is minced and served as an easy to swallow soup. Needless to say, it is a favorite in my household and I am glad it is so easy to prepare.  Egyptians always use the minced mulokhia leaves to prepare this recipe, and visions of my grandmother chopping the fresh leaves with an old fashioned mezzaluna blade is a great memory that makes this dish the ultimate nostalgic comfort food. 

 

chicken broth

Boil bone-in chicken legs with cardamom, salt, pepper, and bay leaves to make your own broth.

To start, you need a good chicken broth. Insert here your preferred source, but I always love making my own broth with a whole chicken or a few chicken legs and later enjoying the freshly cooked, then roasted chicken along with my mulokhia. Simply boil a whole chicken or a few bone-in legs with an onion, cardamom, bay leaves, salt and pepper for 30-60 minutes. You could also enjoy this as a vegan dish however, by using a vegetable broth, which will work just as perfectly.

The savored and distinct flavor and scent of mulokhia is achieved when you make the “taqliyya” (which means fried mixture in Arabic). In Egypt, you will often find this scent wafting from homes as you pass them by as this is a favorite traditional dinner served weekly. Simply sauté about 10 beautiful cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil with 2 tablespoons of ground coriander seed. The smell in your kitchen will lure every one in, but no worries you are almost done! Once you stir this garlic-coriander mixture into the broth, place the frozen mulokhia block into the broth and stir it every so often until it has melted. It is important to not over-boil this soup, as the leaves may end up sinking and separating from the broth and you will not have the homogenous consistency that is desired. 

garlic and ground coriander

The “taqliyya” : Sautee crushed garlic and coriander to make the amazing flavor that scents the mulokhia.

garlic and coriander mulokhia

I like to pan fry or oven roast the chicken I used to make the broth by rubbing it with garlic, salt, and pepper, then searing it in lemon and onions. Yummy!

pan fry chicken with garlic and onions

Serve the mulokhia with rice or pita, and you may eat with roasted chicken on the side. Sometimes, when I wish to take a healthier route than white rice, I use quinoa as a side. Bil hana wil Shifa! (With health and healing!)

 2014-03-04sugarandgarlic2014-7 molokhia

Egyptian Mulokhia (jews mallow)
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Cook Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups of chicken broth or vegetable stock
  2. 1 package of frozen minced mulokhia leaves
  3. 2-3 tbsp minced garlic
  4. 2 tbsp ground coriander
  5. 1 tbsp olive oil or butter (ghee is traditional)
  6. 1-2 tsp salt, to taste
  7. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  8. white rice (optional)
  9. pita bread (optional)
  10. roasted chicken (optional)
Instructions
  1. Boil the broth in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil. Add the ground coriander and stir until browned, being careful not to scorch or burn the garlic. Remove from heat after 3 minutes.
  3. Pour a ladle of the broth over the garlic mixture so that it sizzles together, and stir. Pour the entire garlic mixture into the larger pot of broth and stir well.
  4. Add the frozen mulokhia block into the broth (no need to thaw). Stir every few minutes until it has dissolved and melted into the broth. Simmer for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. Do not over-boil as this will compromise the homogenous consistency of the soup.
  5. Serve over rice, with pita, or with chicken. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. My mom sometimes adds a dash of tomato sauce to the broth which gives another great flavor, if you are looking for variations.
Adapted from Dear mom
Adapted from Dear mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Veggie Tuna Salad

This is a refreshing and filling veggie tuna salad that you can eat on its own right out of the bowl, or you can wrap it into a flat bread for a quick and easy sandwich, or melt some provolone cheese over it to make a warm and toasty tuna melt! Yum!

tuna saladThis tuna salad is so easy to make with fresh ingredients and lots of flavor. We load up on veggies that give this a nice crunch. The recipe is an inspiration based on a green bean tuna salad recipe written by the fabulous Giada de Laurentiss and made for me by a more fabulous friend:) I made this at home with some of my fresh and favorite veggies: red bell peppers, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, and parsley . I omitted red potatoes to reduce the carbs and cooking steps, used fresh crunchy green beans, and added some kick with chopped fennel instead of celery. This was awesome.

Oh and I use plenty of fresh squeezed lemons, almost 1 whole lemon per can of tuna. In my book, the more lemon the better. But it is possible to add too much lemon so don’t get carried away!

I use “Wild Planet” tuna, which is a brand I love because it is sustainably caught (pole and troll), non GMO, no liquids or fillers are added (as is with the common Chicken of the Sea and other major brands), and it is stored in BPA free cans. There are also many other wonderful healthful varieties stored in olive oil. You want to avoid the kinds stored in water, because many of the heart healthy omega 3 fats are lost and nutrients are not retained as well (neither is the taste actually). I use about 5 6 oz cans in the recipe which is enough to feed at least 5 adults; the volume is tripled with all the fresh chopped vegetable ingredients we add!

chopped veggies

parsley, tomatoes, scallions, and garlic

Tuna salad veggies; in this variation I included chopped asparagus!

Tuna salad veggies; in this variation I included chopped asparagus!

If you let your kids dice and stir this salad with you, they are always more likely to eat what they make. They always love the bright colors in the salad too.

green bean tuna salad

red bell pepper

red bell pepper and diced fennel

tomatoes and garlic

layers of flavor with tomatoes and garlic

Veggie Tuna Salad
A fresh and delicous tuna salad that is heart healthy and easy to make in no time!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4-5 6 oz cans of tuna, packed in olive oil
  2. 2 red bell peppers, diced
  3. 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 cup fresh fennel, diced
  5. 1 cup of fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
  6. 1 cup tomatoes, diced
For the dressing
  1. 3/4-1 c fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  4. 1/2 tsp cumin
  5. 1/2 c olive oil
  6. 2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
Instructions
  1. Toss all the chopped ingredients with the tuna in a large bowl.
  2. Stir the dressing together and pour all over the tuna salad.
  3. Serve in wraps, on toast, on crackers, or eat it as it is as a healthy and filling salad!
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/