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Dill & Fava Rice (Vegan)

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On September 7, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes (boil rice) and 15-20 minutes (cook rice with dill)
Serves: 6 to 8

Here’s my favorite Persian-inspired rice recipe – I love it because of the rich aroma emanating from the dill weed as it cooks. The fava beans and saffron add such rich flavors to this beautiful side dish!

2 cups basmati rice (rinsed 3 to 4 times in cold water & drained)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Persian saffron threads
2 cups frozen fava beans (also called, broad beans)
2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (preferably safflower or sunflower oil)

Directions for Boiling Rice & Fava Beans:

1. Place the washed and drained rice in an 8-cup saucepot; add 6 cups cold water.

2. Cover the saucepot and bring rice to a boil; uncover and add 2 teaspoons salt.

3. Cook the rice for 6 minutes.

4. After 6 minutes, taste the rice (it should be al dente or crunchy-tender. If it’s still too hard, cook rice for 1 to 2 more minutes.

5. Using a large, fine-meshed colander, drain the rice.

6. Rinse the rice once under cold water; set the rice in colander over a bowl to drain & cool.

Assembling the Rice with Dill & Fava Beans:

1. Meanwhile, in a small saucepot or kettle, boil 1 cup of water.

2. Transfer boiled water to a pyrex or stainless steel bowl & mix with saffron threads.

3. Set water & saffron aside; the water will look dark yellow or orange.

4. When water has turned dark yellow or orange from the saffron, strain the water into a separate Pyrex or stainless steel bowl.

5. Gently transfer about 1 cup of the cooked & drained rice to the bowl with saffron water; set aside.

6. In a 12-inch, nonstick skillet, add 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

7. Gently spread about 1/3 of the boiled rice evenly over oil at bottom of skillet.

8. Follow with 1/2 of amount of fava beans and 1/2 of amount of chopped dill weed.

9. Continue assembling 1/3 layer of rice, followed by remaining fava beans and dill weed, as above.

10. The rice mound should end with the remaining 1/3 of white rice at the top.

11. Drain the saffron rice and scatter it evenly over the white rice at top of mound.

Finishing the Dill & Fava Rice:

1. Cover the rice in skillet and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

2. After 15 minutes, using a flat spatula, check bottom of rice. If it is does not look golden brown yet, cook rice on medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Using the spatula, check bottom of rice once more – it should be golden brown.

4. Using a large ladle, scoop rice onto a serving platter; set crispy rice bottom separately on another platter.

5. Serve Dill & Fava Rice immediately as a side dish to meat, poultry, fish or as part of a vegetarian feast!
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Eggplant Dip with Tahini & Parsley

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Vegetables On July 31, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 18 to 25 minutes for roasting & cooling eggplant
Prep time: 10 minutes for dip
Serves: 4 to 6

On my trip to Turkey in April, I was served an eggplant dip that was so delicious, I knew I had to make it myself. I did! Here’s the recipe.

2 medium eggplants
2 to 3 tablespoons tahini (found in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
Juice from 1 lemon or lime
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses – optional (found in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 a bunch fresh Italian, flat leaf parsley

Directions for Broiling or Grilling Eggplant:
1. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet.

2. Set baking sheet on an oven rack set 6 inches below the top broiler element.

3. Broil eggplant 6 to 8 minutes per side, until it looks wrinkled and soft. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant directly on an outdoor barbecue grill.

4. When eggplant is done, transfer it to a platter and let it cool.

Prepare the Eggplant Dip:

1. After cooling, cut and discard stem and skin from eggplant.

2. Place eggplant flesh in a colander; let it drain over a bowl for about 10 minutes.

3. After eggplant has drained, transfer it to a food processor.

4. Add 2 tablespoons tahini, lemon or lime juice, crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses and about 1/2 teaspoon each salt & ground pepper.

5. Process the mixture until it is lumpy-smooth.

6. Taste the eggplant dip and adjust seasonings, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and tahini, if needed.

7. Add leaves from 8 to 10 parsley sprigs and process once more. DO NOT LET PARSLEY LEAVES DISINTEGRATE.

8. Transfer the eggplant dip to a serving bowl & garnish with remaining parsley sprigs. Serve with pita wedges, tortilla chips or bread toasts.

Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Melon Granita

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On August 7, 2022 0 Comments


Granita is a frozen Italian dessert, usually made with fresh fruit. It’s similar to sorbet. This melon granita recipe is so easy to make. The freezer does it all, even while you sleep. Enjoy this cool dessert on a hot summer day!

Active Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours or overnight
Makes: 4 half-cup servings

2 cups melon cubes (cantaloup or honeydew)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
One small watermelon and melon scooper (for garnish)
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

1. In a blender, combine the melon, water, sugar and lime juice; puree until smooth.

2. Gently pour the melon mixture into a 9-inch round metal baking pan; transfer it to a freezer, uncovered.

3. Freeze the melon mixture for 4 hours or overnight.

4. After the melon mixture has become frozen, prepare the watermelon balls.

5. Using a melon scooper, form about 32 to 36 watermelon balls and place them on a plate; cover and store the watermelon balls in refrigerator.

6. Saving remaining watermelon for another use.

7. Meanwhile, place pan with frozen melon mixture on a counter.

8. Using a fork, make scrape-marks in the frozen melon mixture.

9. The scraping will create flakes – this is the “granita”.

10. Continue scraping until all the granita is made.

11. Divide the granita among 4 half-cup glass or porcelain bowls such as ramekins.

12. Place the bowls on a small, individual plates – garnish with watermelon balls and fresh mint sprigs. Serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real


Velvety Beet Hummus (Vegan)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Holidays On June 8, 2022 0 Comments


This is the best hummus we’ve ever made- it’s delicate, sweet and velvety. Make this Velvety Beet Hummus in five minutes. It’s a great starter for all palates!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: about 3 to 3-1/2 cups

One 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Tahini (this is sesame seed paste, available in Middle Eastern section of supermarkets)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil (or your choice of vegetable oil)
Juice from 1 to 1-1/2 limes
1 cup diced, cooked beets

1. In a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, garlic, Tahini, salt, olive oil, vegetable oil and lime juice.

2. Process to a paste.

3. Add the beets; process the mixture until smooth (you will see tiny specks of beet in the hummus).

4. Taste and, if needed, adjust salt and lime juice levels.

5. Transfer the hummus to a glass or porcelain serving bowl; garnish with olive oil and mint leaves. Serve with pita bread wedges, crackers or tortilla chips.

6. NOTE: This Velvety Beet Hummus can be made up to two days ahead, tightly sealed and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real

Tortilla Pizza For One

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Pizzas, Savory Tarts & Quiches On May 12, 2022 0 Comments


Hungry while working at home but you only have a package of tortillas and some jack cheese in the fridge? Don’t fret – make this gourmet Tortilla Pizza in an instant! For more servings, just double, triple or quadruple the recipe.

Prep time: 3 to 5 minutes (includes broiling)
Serves: 1

1 flour or corn tortilla (I used a six-inch corn tortilla)
1/4 to 1/3 cup mixed, shredded Jack Cheese & Mozzarella Cheese
Add a fav topping such as sliced olives, salami or prosciutto bits  (I added marinated sun-dried tomato pieces)

1. Place the tortilla on a baking sheet (no parchment paper or it will burn underneath broiler).

2. Spread cheese over top of tortilla; top with fav topping.

3. Place the baking sheet on a rack positioned six inches from top oven broiler grill.

4. Turn on oven at “BROIL” setting.

5. Broil the tortilla pizza for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese has melted and turned light golden brown. NOTE: Stand watch to prevent charring.

6. Enjoy the Tortilla Pizza alone or make more for your friends and/or family!
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real