Some Flavors from the Middle East

The Middle East is where many different cultures from three different continents all come together and meet.  It is the melting pot for South Eastern Europe, Western Asia and the Eastern parts of North Africa.  There are many different countries within this region of the world as well, but most of the culinary influences hail from three countries – Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.  These three countries make up what is known as the Fertile Crescent. Though these three countries all share a common language and have the same cultural heritage, they all three have their own unique and distinct personalities.  These regional distinctions are also found in the foods from these areas.  Lebanon is famous for its wide array of mezze or little dishes, similar to tapas in Spain.  Jordanian recipes are renowned for the meat dishes, and the Syrians are best known for their piquant or spicy dishes that are meant to be eaten with breads.   “The cuisines of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are generally regarded as Arab food at its best”, The Food and Cooking of the Middle East.   Dinner had bits and pieces of all three of these Arabic regions.  It was full of flavor and full of color.  We had grilled shrimp marinated in lime juice and cilantro, that I served with roasted pumpkin with pomegranate and pepita seeds, cous cous and pita bread with hummus.  I completed the meal with a crisp chardonnay that had hints of apples and melon.

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Shrimp with Cilantro and Lime

15-16 large shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined

2 TBSP lime juice

1-1 1/2 TBSP garlic

salt and pepper to taste

3 TBSP olive oil

1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped in a rough cut

 

Mix everything together and marinate the shrimp for about 1/2 an hour and chill.  I skewered the shrimp and grilled them, but you can also pan-fry everything together as well.

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Save the marinade.  Once the shrimp is cooked and ready to serve, heat up the marinade and top the cooked shrimp with it.  YUM!

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Roasted Pumpkin with Pomegranate and Pepita Seeds

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3 lbs of pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed

1/4 cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP honey

pomegranate dressing (optional)

1 shallot, minced fine

1 bunch of parsley, chopped in a rough cut

1/3 cup toasted pepita seeds

1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

 

Preheat the oven to 450*F

 

Toss the pumpkin cubes with half the olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice.  Roast for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender, stirring after about 10 minutes.  Once the pumpkin is cooked, remove from the oven and let cool.

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Once the pumpkin has cooled, toss it with the pepita seeds, pomegranate seeds and parsley.  Mix together the lemon juice, honey, olive oil and pomegranate dressing, if using.  I had some left over pomegranate dressing and used that for some extra flavor.   Then toss everything together and serve.   I really like this dish served warm, but you can eat it cold too.

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Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

21 thoughts on “Some Flavors from the Middle East”

  1. Oh my goodness, those pictures, that food and wine! 😋 mouthwatering! My husbands grandfather was from Syria – didn’t have a chance to meet him. He was a tall, very light skinned man and a white long beard that ran down his stomach. There are two of my kids that resemble him, light skinned and light eyes – just like him. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s an amazing thing. My husband is too and my dad isn’t, and it’s too bad when they’re not willing to try new things. My husband can eat just about anything I put in front of him – thank the Lord! 😆🙏🏽

        Liked by 1 person

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