Menu of the Week: Inspired by Middle Eastern Cuisine

Chick Pea Cutlet with Tahini-Parsley Sauce, Cracked Wheat Scallion Salad, Vegetable Melange, Upper Right: Greek Salad, Lower Right: Whole Wheat Pita Bread with Fava Bean Hummus


It’s borderline unbelievable to me, but tonight we celebrated the 23rd anniversary of our Monday Gourmet Vegetarian Dinners in Palo Alto.  If there’s a vegetarian community dinner event with such longevity anywhere else, I’m not aware of it.  We began with a Spinach-Rice Soup seasoned with a hint of lemon and ended with a Walnut Cake for which we made a glaze of fresh Meyer lemon juice and maple syrup and also served it with fig compote and tofu cream. The main course centered around a Chick Pea Cutlet…which James Holloway made from soaked chick peas cooked until very tender and brown rice cooked long with extra water so as to be soft and sticky.  These were mashed well and combined with sautéed onions, carrot and leeks and seasoned with soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar, salt and pepper. James also added thawed, frozen peas for color and interest, and rice flour to help bind them together. We formed cutlets and fried them in canola oil on our griddle.  The simple, uncooked Tahini-Parsley Sauce consisted of onions, garlic, water, a little mirin, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt and pepper all puréed in a blender and then a generous quantity of tahini added.  Once this was all done and properly seasoned, lots of minced, fresh parsley was stirred in.

The Cracked Wheat-Parsley Salad was made with bulgar wheat re-hydrated with an equal amount of boiling water.  We just poured the water over the wheat and allowed it to sit for about 45 minutes.  We cooled this, then I added a dressing made in the blender with parsley, fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil, umeboshi vinegar and salt and pepper.  This dressing was mixed in, seasonings adjusted and then I added several bunches of chopped green onions. In addition, I mixed in toasted sesame seeds.

The Vegetable Melange consisted of blanched carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.  We just dressed these very lightly with olive oil, umeboshi vinegar and salt.

Our Greek Salad followed convention by using romaine lettuce, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and olives with a vinaigrette dressing. We made ours vegan by substituting extra firm tofu, crumbled and marinated with umeboshi vinegar, salt and olive oil for the usual feta cheese.

We also served whole wheat pita bread with Fava Bean Hummus which is made like conventional hummus except that you substitute cooked, dried fava beans for the usual chick peas.  Adding cumin and just a hint of red pepper flakes or something else a little bit spicy keeps your hummus from being boring.  Don’t be stingy with the tahini and don’t forget to season with fresh lemon juice.  Down with boring hummus, I say!


2 responses

  1. Hi, the food here looks delicious! I am from the Middle East and the photo and descriptions made my mouth water!

    Just a little point–I wanted to point out that the word “hummus” means “chickpea” in Arabic and is also used the same way in Hebrew. I know that many people who don’t speak either language think that “hummus” is synonymous with “dip” or “spread” but unless it has chickpeas in it, it is not accurate to describe the fava bean recipe as hummus, but rather a fava bean dip. Trader Joe’s makes the same error; they call their delicious edamame dip “edamame hummus,” which is also inaccurate, but hey, it doesn’t take away from the great taste.

    I love fava beans, grew up eating them warmed with a little chopped onion, a touch of garlic and salt, lemon juice, olive oil, stuffed into pita bread–yum! I will have to try your recipe here sometime.

    Thanks for the great post. I do hope you don’t mind my little language lesson, I am a writer and former teacher–can’t help myself sometimes!

    Kindest regards!

    • Galia, Glad you liked the post, and I’m always happy to learn something. I shall keep your comments in mind when I write menus and recipes in the future. Hearing from people who read the blog is the greatest! Thanks!

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