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Chermoula and Zhoug

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This summer, while travelling, I had lunch at a restaurant owned by an Armenian and a Syrian. The food was delicious and drew on the culinary customs of a wide region. One thing I found especially appealing was a green sauce which was served not just with grilled food, but also with bread.

Naturally I tried to work it out when I got home. I thought it might be chermoula, but I wasn’t sure. I’ve only had that with grilled food. So I whipped up a batch. Sadly it wasn’t what I was looking for. As nice as it is on the grill, chermoula isn’t so good with just bread.

So I tried another guess and made zhoug. It was just what I was looking for: nice with bread, as well as grilled foods.

The two sauces use similar ingredients, but there are important differences between them. Both require a 2:1 proportion of coriander leaves to parsley. Both use garlic, salt, lemon juice, cumin and olive oil. It’s the small differences that make all the difference when it comes to making a dip that’s nice with bread. While chermoula contains paprika, a pinch of cayenne and a little saffron, zhoug uses coriander, cardamom and a good quantity of chiles. I used 3 whole green chiles and topped it with dried chili flakes for a good measure.

Both chermoula and zhoug are great with the grill, but zhoug is also great with bread.

Cucumber Peanut Salad

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This salad contains spinach, cucumber, and roasted peanuts. I used agave syrup in place of honey to make the salad vegan. I found the peanuts were especially tasty due to being cooked with garlic.

Light Pasta Salad

To make this pasta salad, I first soaked a handful of cashews in warm water, before blending them with a little water, one small clove of garlic, a bit of nutritional yeast, and half of a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. I then cooked the pasta, along with the carrots and broccoli, which I did not want to eat raw.

While the pasta and vegetables were cooking, I rinsed some tinned corn, sliced olives, chopped yellow and red sweet peppers, chopped cucumber, and chopped parsley. I rinsed the pasta, broccoli and carrots in cold water to chill them, then mixed them with the remaining vegetables, the cashew sauce, black pepper, salt, and olive oil.

Obviously the vegetables can be changed to taste – I meant to add some frozen peas to the pasta just before draining, but discovered I had run out – as the main thing about this dish is that it has a very light sauce instead of a heavy mayonnaise one that is typically found in pasta salads.

Bonus post: Grilled lettuce

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I’ve posted about grilled lettuce previously, with brie and with vegan green sauce, and also grilled cabbage with nam prik sauce. So at a friend’s recent barbecue, when I was asked to make a salad, I made one without the iceberg lettuce, which I instead prepared to grill using olive oil, salt, and pepper.

There was already an herb sauce of parsley and mint with feta and sweet pepper on hand, so we used it to dress the lettuce. It was a popular addition to the meal.

Oil-Free Strawberry Vinaigrette

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I was inspired by this recipe, but I made several modifications. First, I cut down the recipe significantly, as I only wanted dressing for two salads. Second, I didn’t have apple sauce, which is a common oil substitute. Instead I soaked chia seeds in water, to give the dressing some bulk.

I served it over a cucumber and parsley salad.

Sprouted Mung Bean and Glass Noodle Soup

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I had some mung beans left from my last sprouting, so I decided to riff off of mung dip yum. I made a lot of substitutions to work with what I had on hand: a Madame Jeanette chili instead of a Jalapeno, soy sauce instead of tamari, leftover peanut sauce from my lettuce wraps instead of creamy pecan sauce, Chinese cabbage as the green leafy vegetable, glass noodles instead of rice noodles, and different proportions of most of the main ingredients!

I liked this because the taste of the bean sprouts was mild and the broth had a lot of flavour.

Roast Pepper Salad

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To make this salad, I tossed three sweet peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper. I chopped up an onion and put all the vegetables in a baking pan under a hot broiler for 20 minutes. I turned the peppers once, and stirred the tomato.

While the vegetables were cooking, I made a dressing consisting of one clove of garlic, juice from one lime, a pinch of sugar, olive oil, a handful of mint, a handful of parsley, a few coriander leaves and salt.

Once the vegetables were cooked I mashed the tomato and placed it on a plate, then added the peppers and let them cool a little before adding feta cheese and topping with the dressing.