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Eggplant & Lamb Stew (Khoresh-e-bademjian, Persian)

In Meats On September 16, 2022 0 Comments


Living in a metropolis like Los Angeles introduces us to people from different countries. Many of us have immigrated here and brought our histories, cultures and delicious foods.  For the last 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to make new friends from Iran (its ancient name is “Persia”). When my family and I go to our friends’ homes, we dance to exotic Persian music and share our experiences in lively conversation. Last but not least, we feast on colorful foods made with  meats, vegetables and fruits!

Here’s one of my favorite Persian dishes – Eggplant and Lamb Stew. NOTE: Taking the time to prep this dish is worth it!

Active Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours (2-1/2 for stewing meat & 30 minutes in oven)
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients for Stew:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat (boneless leg of lamb, cut into 4-inch chunks)
2 large white or yellow onions, peeled & thinly sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup frozen sour grapes, optional (buy this product at a Middle Eastern supermarket)
2 cups tomato puree, combined with 2 cups water in a bowl
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey or sugar (optional, should you need to adjust sour/sweet level)
6 small Italian eggplants
2 tablespoons salt (for the eggplant)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Ingredients for Garnish:
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly-sliced into half-moons
1 large tomato, diced

Directions for Stew:
1. In an 8-quart sauce pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil. When oil is hot (not smoking), add the lamb chunks.

2. Brown the lamb, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

3. When lamb is brown, add onions, salt, pepper, saffron water, sour grapes, tomato puree mixture and the lime juice.

4. Simmer the lamb with added ingredients for 2 to 2-1/2 hours on low heat, semi-covered. Stir occasionally and, if the liquid dries out, add 1/2 cup water to prevent sticking at bottom of sauce pot.

5. After the lamb stew simmers for one hour, add the cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg; stir and taste. If needed, adjust salt and spice levels.

6. If stew tastes too “sour”, add some honey or sugar; taste & adjust sour/sweet levels.

7. Occasionally add small amounts of water to prevent drying and the stew sticking to bottom of sauce pot.

8. While the meat continues cooking, cut & discard top stems from eggplants; peel the eggplants.

9. Set eggplants in a colander over a bowl; sprinkle eggplants with a little water and then coat them with 2 tablespoons salt.

10. Let bitter juices from the eggplant drain for about 10 minutes.

11. After 10 minutes, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil on medium heat.

12. On medium-high heat, fry the eggplant until brown on each side.

13. Drain the eggplant on paper towel-lined plate; set aside.

14. After stew has cooked for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, taste the lamb. It should be fork-tender. If not, cook stew for an additional 10 minutes.

Directions for Assembling Stew & Eggplant:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Transfer the stew to a glass Pyrex baking dish measuring 14 X 9 inches.

3. Place eggplant on top of stew; set aside.

4. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons oil and fry the sliced onion for about 4 minutes or until translucent and light golden.

5. Stir in the tomato cubes; cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.

6. Spread the onion-tomato garnish over the stew in Pyrex baking dish; cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

7. Serve the Eggplant & Lamb Stew with steamed Basmati rice.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real

St. Pat’s Day Green Pasta

In Meats On March 11, 2022 0 Comments


Kiss me, I’m Italian! Enjoy this green pasta with tomatoes and olive oil on St. Pat’s Day.

Prep time: 12 to 14 minutes
Serves: 4

1 pound spinach pasta (any variety)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
2 large tomatoes, cubed
fresh mint leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Fill a 4-quart saucepot with water; bring to a boil.

2. Add the pasta and the salt to the water; boil on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is “al dente” (crunchy-tender).

3. Drain the pasta in a colander.

4. Return the pasta to saucepot; stir in the olive oil and cubed tomatoes. Taste and adjust salt level, if needed.

5. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and serve immediately; Garnish with mint leaves.

6. Ask guests to top the pasta with cheese, if desired.
Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real


Instant Gratification Valentine Treats

In Meats On February 8, 2022 0 Comments


No one has time for anything anymore. And forget baking, right? So for Valentine’s Day, I came up with no-mess, no-bake, no-cleanup sweets  for “busy” people (me included)!

Make these Valentine Treats in just 3 minutes – instant gratification. Happy Valentine’s Day to All!

Prep time: 3 minutes
Makes: 15 to 18 treats

One 12-ounce package Trader Joe’s® Sea Salt Brownie Petites (or your choice of mini, precut brownies)
One can readymade whipped cream
One 12-ounce package M&M’s® Cupid Mix candies

1. Set brownie petites or mini brownies on a serving plate.

2. Shake whipped cream can and squeeze nozzle so that a small dollop of cream sits at center of each brownie.

3. Top each brownie with a candy.

4. Serve immediately.

Text & Photograph ©2022 Nancy DeLucia Real

Thanksgiving Green Salad with Lime-Dijon Vinaigrette

In Meats On November 19, 2021 0 Comments


For Thanksgiving dinner, some guests may want a no-carbs, no-gluten, no-sugar salad or side . Here’s a delicious salad that’s easy to make because it can be prepared the morning of …. Happy Thanksgiving!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6


6 cups fresh, mixed greens (Romaine, butter, arugula, spinach), washed & spun-dry
3 Persian cucumbers, peeled and thinly-sliced
1 large carrot, peeled & thinly-sliced
4 green onions, tips & dark green stems discarded, sliced in 1/4-inch pieces
Juice of 2 limes or lemons
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon white Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 of a red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (for garnish)

1. Place the mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots & green onions in a serving bowl; set aside, covered, in refrigerator until ready to serve.

2. In a food processor, combine the lime or lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic clove, vinegar and the oil.

3. Process the mixture until vinaigrette is uniform.

4. Transfer vinaigrette to a glass jar & tightly cover. Refrigerate vinaigrette until ready to serve the salad.

4. At serving time, pour the vinaigrette over prepared salad ingredients; garnish with red bell pepper pieces. Toss & serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2021 Nancy DeLucia Real

Spook Pasta

In Meats On October 20, 2021 0 Comments


Kids of all ages will love this orange-colored Halloween meal – Spook Pasta! Made with fresh pumpkin, it’s healthy, fast and fun!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6


6 cups peeled, cubed pumpkin, boiled & drained (reserve 1-1/2 cups of the cooking liquid)
1 cube vegetarian or chicken bouillon
1 pound pasta (short variety)
1 teaspoon salt
grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (optional, for garnish)

1. Place cooked and cooled pumpkin cubes into a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.

2. Transfer the pureed pumpkin to a 2 to 3-quart saucepot; stir in 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid.

3. Bring the pumpkin sauce to a boil; add the bouillon cube and stir.

4. Cook on low heat, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes. Taste and add a little salt, if needed.

5. Cover the pumpkin sauce and set aside on a cool burner.

6. Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart saucepot of water to a boil.

7. Add the pasta and 1 teaspoon salt; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is “al dente” (crunchy-tender).

8. In the meantime, bring the pumpkin sauce to a boil. If it is too thick, add a little more cooking liquid.

9. Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepot.

10. Add 2 to 3 ladles of the pumpkin sauce to the pasta; stir to heat evenly over medium heat.

11. Add more pumpkin sauce, to taste.

12. Serve the Spook Pasta immediately; garnish with cheese.
Text & Photograph ©2021 Nancy DeLucia Real