Greek Fattoush Salad & The Best Healthy Tzatziki Sauce

Salads get a bad rep as a main course because oftentimes what we picture as a stereotypical salad are just the saddest little leaves of iceberg lettuce with some grainy tomatoes, limp cucumber and dry shreds of carrots strewn over top. When people say they don’t like salads though I believe they just haven’t found the salad for them yet. There’s a salad out there you’ll like.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

From Thai som tam papaya salad with peanuts and shrimp to warm spinach salads with bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg. Jean George’s carrot and avocado salad is a must order at his restaurant ((or must make at home) and the pomegranate seeds on Joy the Baker’s apple and brussel sprouts salad really make the whole dish.

Anyways. Lately my favorite salads have been more Mediterranean leaning. I love fattoush salad which is a Lebanese salad that normally has lettuce (or purslane), cucumber, tomatoes, mint, radish, pita chips and a tangy dressing made of lime, garlic, olive oil and sumac. It sounds terribly simple but its quite addicting, plus a perfect complement to fatty, charred gyros. Another classic I think most people are familiar with is greek salad which has tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, feta, red onions and a dressing of red wine vinegar, oregano and olive oil.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

So my clever idea that mostly arose out of coincidentally having most of these ingredients at home was to combine both these salads. Unfortunately I did not have sumac lying around so I omitted it but I highly recommend it if you can find it. It’s a reddish tangy spice that really adds a lot to the dressing and almost vaguely tastes like cranberries.

Lastly I added some simply cooked shrimp to the salad and made some amazing tzatziki sauce to go with this salad (and so that I could I dip extra pita chips in). This is an amazing tzatziki sauce recipe that’s pretty healthy to boot.

Chopping Away

Chopping Away

Chopped

Chopped

Chopped x2

Chopped x2

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 2 as a meal and 4 as a side.

1 pound of Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
2 tomatoes
1 cup chopped romaine
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of plain salted pita chips (add more if you like)
1/3 cup of kalamata olives
2-3 ounces of good feta (the one packed in olive oil is my favorite)
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
4 teaspoons of ground sumac
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix the lime juice, sumac, oregano, red wine vinegar, minced garlic cloves and olive oil into a small bowl. Whisk vigorously until incorporated and set aside.
2. Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl.
3. Add in romaine, mint leaves, pita chips, and kalamata olives.
4. Add dressing and toss everything together.
5. Crumble the feta over top.
6. It’s ready! I would add a protein to make this a meal or serve as a side.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Now for the tzatziki. I love having a creamy side to have with the tangy salad but this tzatziki is great for serving alongside kebabs, pita chips, lemon shrimp skewers, you name it. It is especially good as part of a meal when you dollop it over rice.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fat free greek yogurt (strained if you want it thicker, I used Trader Joe’s brand but I like Oikos too)
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber (any kind) peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Add in all the ingredients except for the lemon and whisk together.
3. Add the juice of the lemon, adjusting for how tart you want it. Combine.
4. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over top before serving.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

So yes. This is how I ate my huge salad. The good thing about this salad is that its quite substantial but because the dressing is fairly healthy you can eat a lot of until you’re quite full. When trying to be healthy its generally good to always control portion size but when you’re eating a big bowl of what mainly consists of cucumbers and tomatoes you can pretty much dismiss portion control and eat until you are pre-tty full. Provided you didn’t go too crazy with the pita chips.

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

This is the final product. I pretty much made this in a large salad serving bowl and then just kind of ate out of the bowl. Even after eating until my post-gym induced ravenous heart’s content I still have a good amount of salad left for the next day. The pita chips do get a tad soggy so if you have extra this is either an excuse for eating all the pita chips and adding more next time or for picking them out when you eat the salad later.

Close Up

Close Up

Polite Provisions II

After being quite smitten with Polite Provisions the first time around, we decided to revisit the place during the afternoon to see what it’s like a little earlier in the day. It was definitely less crowded on a Thursday afternoon compared to a weekend night which is when we previously attended. We were able to sit at a table and it was a more casual vibe with most people ordering food from neighboring Soda & Swine next door.

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

As usual the cocktails we got we’re all spot on. The cocktail menu changes a bit everyday but there are a couple constants. They try to incorporate seasonal beverages and change up the cocktails on draft. Below is the cocktail menu for that day:

Polite Provisions Menu

Polite Provisions Menu

On to the libations…

The cocktail I ordered was the Ocean Side. This came with London dry gin, fresh lime, mint, sea salt and celery bitters.

Ocean Side

Ocean Side

I really, really liked this drink. It’s refreshing, not cloyingly sweet, and herbal as well as sweet and savoury at the same time with the sea salt and celery bitters. The celery flavour is noticeable but subtle, it played really well with the mint and lime. I’d reckon if you like gin and tonics and you like Bloody Mary’s you would like this guy.

One of the other drinks we ordered at our table was the Uncle Jalapeno, with Blanco tequila, jalapeno, and T-Bone’s pineapple soda.

Uncle Jalapeno

Uncle Jalapeno

I love spicy flavors in drinks like the habanero infused beer Ballast Point does or the jalapeno infused drink at Whisknladle (cannot remember its name right now even though I always order it!). I am not someone who can handle suuuper spicy food so don’t worry if you are wary of that, these are not meant to burn your palate, the peppers just add the slightest zing and more of their flavor than just blunt spice. The pineapple soda tastes like fresh pineapple and complemented the jalapeno and tequila flavors really well, without being too sweet. If you like those Mexican fruit cups with the spices and little limes on them you will love this.

The last drink we had was the Kentucky Buck. This drink was a little sweeter and fruitier but not anything excessive. It has bourbon, fresh lemon, strawberry and ginger beer.

Kentucky Buck

Kentucky Buck

Ok so the best way I can summarize this drink is that it tasted EXACTLY like strawberry fruit roll-ups. IT WAS AWESOME. And other people at our table agreed. Not very bourbon forward and very drinkable. If you’re not a fan of spirit-forward drinks but like fruit roll-ups (and who doesn’t?) you will like this drink.

Overall we had another great experience. Drinks are still all mostly $8 bucks, you are getting such good value for your money. The only $10 dollar drink was the dessert one. Cannot wait to come back yet again and try the punch bowls…

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions
4696 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116
politeprovisions.com

Buona Forchetta

I’ve been hearing about Buona Forchetta for a while and was really excited to try this place with its gorgeous golden pizza oven (look at the website!).

Sergio Pizza

Sergio Pizza

First driving into the Golden Hill / South Park area was great. I don’t frequent that area too often but its beautiful and I promised that I’ll start exploring it more. Its completely different from the other side of the Balboa Park along 6th Av., much less busy and so charming. But anyways, I digress.

Buona Forchetta Menu

Buona Forchetta Menu

The place has a rather small inside but a nice patio with heaters. Loved the vibe of the place. The menu was fairly simple: appetizers, salads, pastas, pizzas (regular, white, fried), calzones and desserts. There was no happy hour but with glasses of sangria regularly priced at $4 and beer at $5  who needs happy hour anyways.

DRINKS: Even a better deal than the cups of sangria is a carafe of sangria. For $18 we got a carafe of fantastic white sangria. It was very crisp tasting although not very alcoholic. This was fine by me.

White Sangria

White Sangria

APPETIZER: To start off we ordered the Pizzelle, fried up little rounds of puffy pizza dough with marinara sauce and parmesan. You get three of these little babies and they are quite tasty. They’re very tomato-ey with all that sauce and the marinara is very fresh tasting.  I liked these but eat them fast as they get soggy and cold sitting under all that sauce for a while. Also since I prefer marinara that tastes more like fresh tomatoes instead of stuff thats been cooking for days I really liked the sauce on the pizzelle and on all their pizzas.

Pizzelle

Pizzelle

Probably because I felt guilty about my imminent consumption of vast amounts of cheese and dough I also ordered a salad, the Gamberi. It had shrimp, arugula, capers, artichokes and a lemon-y dressing. This salad is quite tart with the brininess from the capers and the lemon dressing, but it was tasty and refreshing. They also give you decent sized shrimp, I hate ordering something with shrimp and getting the tiny cheap crap shrimp. No such thing here.

Gamberi

Gamberi

ENTREE: We got three pizzas to share. As a note the pizzas are personal sized and cut into 4 pieces, however we were 4 people and got three and it was more than enough. The first was the Sophia with mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms and prosciutto cotto. Prosciutto cotto is cooked prosciutto. It was torn into small piece and it was crispy at the edges, tasting more like the best crispy ham ever instead of silky prosciutto. This was my personal favorite. There was just enough cheese + the mushrooms and artichokes worked wonderfully with the prosciutto cotto to feel like you were eating a fantastic hearty pizza. I have to commend them on their crust too; thin but still chewy with the perfect amount of char. That fancy oven is doing you good Buona Forchetta.

Sophia pizza

Sophia

We also got the Sergio. This was mozzarella di bufala (fresh mozzarella made from buffalo milk), fresh prosciutto and arugula. For this pizza the arugula and the prosciutto are added after the pizza leaves the oven so the prosciutto was still that silky soft texture and the arugula was crisp. This was also delicious, my only wish was that there was more mozzarella di bufala, I think that would have made this my favorite pizza. It definitely feels less hearty than the Sophia because its not all hot melty everythingness but its a perfect hot weather pizza since the fresh prosciutto and arugula balance out the hot crust and cheese.

Sergio pizza

Sergio

Our last pizza was a pizza bianche, or white pizza. We ended up choosing the Isabella, with creme fraiche, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, onions and rosemary. Sadly this was my least favorite pizza but I normally prefer regular tomato based pizza over the white sauce versions. The sun dried tomatoes were a little too charred for me and the overall pizza felt dry, we all wished there had been more creme fraiche. They have very thinly sliced mostly raw red onions on the pizza too so if you love onions you will like this one.

Isabella pizza

Isabella

DESSERT: So for dessert we got the Millefoglie a flaky pastry that was filled with a sweetened mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries. There was also chocolate sauce drizzled on the plate. This was amazing. I wish there were more strawberries because getting the flaky pastry + cream + strawberries in one bite was heavenly. Sadly we were sharing this and it got devoured so fast I don’t even have any pictures of it 😦

Overall we all loved Buona and cannot wait to go back. The prices are very reasonable and you legitimately don’t see people doing really good Neapolitan style pizza in San Diego. Don’t get me wrong I love ALL kinds of pizza but especially kinds that are thin and light enough that I can consume three pieces without feeling excessively full and/or guilty. Looking at that menu I already know what I wanna order next time…and definitely not planning on sharing dessert again 😉

CHECK:
White Sangria $18
Pizzelle $5
Gamberi $10
Sofia $11
Sergio $13
Isabella $13
Millefoglie $6
TOTAL: $82.08

Buona Forchetta
3001 Beech St.
San Diego, CA 92102
http://www.buonaforchettasd.com/

Strawberry Vanilla Pound Cake with Almond Crumble

There are certain flavors that can really take a dish the extra mile and at the same time it’s hard to put your finger on what’s missing when it’s not there; nutmeg in cream sauces, a squeeze of lemon to brighten up roasted asparagus, and almond in vanilla-based baked goods. This pound cake is a simple pound cake recipe to which we add fresh strawberries, almond extract, a glaze and almond crumble. Nice to serve with ice cream for dessert or just lightly toasted for breakfast.

Strawberry Vanilla Poundcake

Strawberry Vanilla Pound Cake

RECIPE:

STRAWBERRY VANILLA POUND CAKE WITH ALMOND CRUMBLE

Pound Cake & Glaze:
1 cup softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups self-rising cake flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup of chopped strawberries tossed with 2 tablespoons of flour
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of almond extract

Almond Crumble:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar

– Preheat the oven to 350C and grease a loaf pan.
– In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add the lemon zest.
– Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each.
– Then gently mix in the rest of the flour.
– Add the lemon juice (saving 2 tbsp for glaze), vanilla, and finally almond extract.
– Mix in the chopped strawberries then add to the loaf pan.
– Pulse all the ingredients for the crumble in a food processor until you have a crumbly/granola consistency. Set aside.
– Sprinkle the loaf with caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) and then the crumble as it goes into the oven. Then bake for 1 hour or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
– Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the tin before turning out.
– Whisk the confectioner’s sugar with 2 tbsp of lemon juice until the glaze is smooth. Add lemon juice/sugar as needed to adjust the consistency.
– Once its cooled swirl the glaze on top.

Based on Nigella’s Madeira Cake

The final product is a nice mix of rich pound cake with tartness from the strawberries, extra sweetness from the glaze and crunchy texture from the crumble. The almond perfumes the loaf and the strawberries get the tiniest bit jammy from being in the oven. Try it out 🙂

TIPS:

– You can sub out the strawberries for other berries, fresh or frozen.
– Be sure to toss the fruit in flour so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake.
– You could also use dried strawberries if you don’t like how fresh/frozen fruit can bleed into the cake.
– Tastes even better the day after.

Crispy Broccoli

Originally found this recipe on Pinterest and it came along with a hefty claim that the lady’s husband preferred this broccoli to french fries. I will come out and say these are no french fries; but it probably is the tastiest way to serve broccoli I have encountered. They are simple, pretty healthy, and the texture and taste of the broccoli is downright addictive. Will definitely be making these again!

Crispy broccoli

Crispy broccoli

The edges of the broccoli get browned and so crispy and the combination of lemon + parmesan really adds flavor. Maybe it won’t substitute a side of fries with your burger but it will definitely convert any broccoli haters.

(ALMOST) BETTER THAN FRENCH FRIES BROCCOLI

Serves 4
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 a lemon

PREPARATION:

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Place the broccoli on a baking sheet (foil-covered if you want to make clean up easier).
  • Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli
  • Add the parmesan, salt and pepper then toss to coat everything evenly.
  • Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until broccoli is crisp.
  • Serve. You can add some more parmesan over top before serving.

based on this recipe

TIPS:
– I think a little of browning is ideal but if you leave it in for longer you can get more of the brown crispy parts. Adding more oil with also increase browning.
– Best eaten right after you make it since it won’t remain crispy the day after.
– You definitely need fresh broccoli for this, frozen broccoli will be too wet and won’t crisp up nicely.