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Summer is the season to enjoy easy to prepare meals at dinnertime. Try the following recipes that feature Greek flavors.
Greek Summer Pasta
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
2 medium or large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons capers
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/3 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 package angel hair or fettuccine pasta
Mizithra or pecorino romano cheese, grated, optional
In a large pasta serving bowl, mix together the olives, tomatoes, mint, capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, orange zest, and olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir together to incorporate flavors. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, or tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a day. Just before serving, cook the angel hair pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and transfer while still steaming hot to the bowl with the olive-tomato mixture and stir together. Set aside for a moment or two for the flavors to meld. Top with grated cheese, if using, and serve.
Zucchini Veggie Burgers with Tahini Sauce
4 tablespoons tahini, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon onion powder, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives plus 2 tablespoons, divided
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tablespoon Greek extra virgin olive oil
4 whole-grain hamburger buns, toasted
1 cup fresh arugula
1-2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
Combine 2 tablespoons of the tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in water until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the 1 teaspoon chives. Set aside.
Place the chickpeas, cumin, salt, and the remaining 2 tablespoons tahini, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder in a food processor. Pulse, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice until a coarse mixture forms that holds together when pressed. Add the parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons of chives and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped and incorporated into the mixture. Transfer to a bowl.
Squeeze zucchini in a clean kitchen towel to remove extra moisture. Add the zucchini and oats to the chickpea mixture; use your hands to combine, pressing to mash together. Form into four patties.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the veggie burger patties and cook until golden and beginning to crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes more. Serve the burgers on the toasted buns with the tahini sauce, arugula, and tomato slices.
Note: To cook chickpeas, sort and rinse, then soak overnight in a large deep pot. Drain the soaking liquid and add fresh, cold water to cover the chickpeas by about two inches. Bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to a simmer, and add a half teaspoon of salt to the boiling chickpeas. Continue cooking until tender. If desired, add an onion, cut in half, two peeled carrots, and two celery stalks, to the simmering chickpeas to add more depth of flavor. The cooked chickpeas can be eaten as a soup with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or drain and use in salads or in veggie burgers.
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