Monday, May 21, 2012

New Country, New Knowledge, New Food...Quinoa Stuffed Peppers and Israeli "Caprese" Salad

It has been exactly four months since my last post!  To say the least, there have been quite a few life changes to date.   

Since January 21st, I...

1. moved to Tel Aviv, Israel
2. miraculously found an apartment on my own
3. danced next to Israel's most well known celebrity a club at 4am
4. have been pulled over twice for "crossing white dotted lines..."?
5. experienced credit card fraud (awesome)
6. bumped into an American cousin visiting Israel who I have literally met once before  
7. recently learned how to play a somewhat annoying, yet addicting card game called "Taki"
8. learned that oven-safe cooking pouches are called "kookies" 
9. FINALLY have a functioning stove and oven after 6 weeks of gas/electricity/installation issues

The list could go on and on.  Moving to Israel has been a rollercoaster of ridiculousness, complete elation, and immeasurable stress.  It's been quite the adventure.

One of the things that brings me continual joy and peace of mind is my ability to stroll over to numerous delicious restaurants, falafel and juice stands, and produce kiosks in my area.  Tel Aviv has become a hub for quality, fresh, healthy, vegetarian/gluten-free friendly, and of course delicious foods and restaurants.  

Just down my street, I can find the best voted juice stand in Tel Aviv, across from my building, an awesome cafe with a mean cafe hafuch (late'),  and my very block is home to one of the most highly rated restaurants in Tel Aviv.  It's grand.  I'm so inspired by Tel Aviv's fusion of middle eastern flare with cosmopolitan modernity, especially in regards to food.  

In honor of my newly installed stove and oven, tonight I insisted on cooking up a fresh, affordable meal for a friend and myself!  Cooking again and it feels so good...

Dishes included:

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. ground cumin                                                                                                                                                                                     
1 Tbs. sweet paprika                                                                                                                                                                                   
1/2 Tbs. ground black pepper                                                                                                                                                                       
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                                                                                                                                              
1 10-oz. spinach                                                                                                                                                                                          
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes                                                                                                                                                                     
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained                                                                                                                                        
1 box sliced mushrooms                                                                                                                                                                     
3/4 cup quinoa                                                                                                                                                                                             
3 large carrots, grated (1 1/2 cups)                                                                                                                                                    
4 large bell peppers (any color)                                                                                                                                                            
2 cup water
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.                                                                                                                          
Add mushrooms and cook until soft.

Add cumin, pepper, paprika, and garlic, and sauté 1 minute.

Stir in spinach and tomatoes.
Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
Stir in chickpeas, quinoa, carrots, and 1.5 cups water.
Cover, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
Season with salt, if desired.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Pour remaining 1/2 cup water in bottom of baking dish.

Fill each bell pepper with quinoa mixture until just overflowing, and place in baking dish.
Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour.  Uncover and transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.
Israeli "Caprese" Salad

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved     
large handful basil leaves, chopped                                                                                                
bulgarian cheese, cubed (portioned to your liking)      
ground black pepper                                                                                                                                  
1 Tbs. olive oil
Combine all ingredients and serve! 
בתאבון (bate' avon)-Enjoy!
Goldstars, of course