One Dish Vegetarian Greek Rice Casserole

One Dish Vegetarian Greek Rice Casserole

This one dish vegetarian Greek rice casserole is so easy to make! Just bake rice with chickpeas, spinach, sauteed garlic and onions, tons of fresh herbs and lemon! Top it off with feta cheese and bake until the rice is tender and crispy on the bottom of the pan! Easy to make with shelf stable ingredients so it makes the perfect pantry meal.

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Zucchini Chickpea Balls with Chopped Greek Salad

Highlight summer produce with this month's Recipe Redux Recipe - zucchini chickpea balls with chopped Greek salad! 

Hi kids! Today is Recipe Redux, so you'll be getting a bonus recipe this week PLUS because I got a little carried away with the theme, a recipe roundup!

This month's theme is Fresh from the Garden, highlighting summer produce from the farmer's market, CSA or, as in this case, my backyard!

When we bought our house, I got inspired by a Southern Living article and decided that one day we would have fully edible landscaping. A fence of grape vines, fresh herbs in lieu of flowers, a perfectly distressed farmhouse table under a peach tree for shade...you get the picture.

Then we actually attempted our first garden an realized this whole vegetable growing thing isn't as easy as it looks. I think our yield was 4 peas, 3 tomatoes and maybe one oblong cucumber? Four years later, we're just happy to finally have more grass than weeds.

To our surprise, this year our garden has been mildly successful. Apparently, sunlight and water help. Who knew? We've had tons of heirloom tomatoes, a few Japanese eggplants, lots of basil and more zucchini than I know what to do with.

One thing I've learned from our successful turn at gardening - sometimes the bounty of summer produce can be overwhelming! When you know how much work has gone into growing a single tomato, the last thing you want to do is waste it. Here's a guide to summer produce so you can make the most of perfect, in season fruits and vegetables!

BERRIES // Store loosely covered with a dry paper towel in the refrigerator and eat quickly as berries are highly perishable. Freeze clean berries in a single layer then transfer to a zip top bag for storage.

Ginger Berry Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie (Edible Perspective)

Quinoa Superfood Breakfast Bake with Berries (One Ingredient Chef)

Baked Oatmeal with Bananas and Berries 

CORN // The sugars in corn quickly convert to start, so it's important to eat corn quickly after harvest. You can slice the kernels off the cob and freeze.

Mexican Street Corn Chopped Salad 

Charred Corn with Pistachio Cilantro Lime Rub (Joy the Baker)

Chipotle Corn Cakes with Avocado and Goat Cheese (Naturally Ella)

CUCUMBERS // If unwaxed, cucumbers can get slimy and go rotten quickly, so wrap with a kitchen towel and refrigerate.

Green Fiesta Juice (Nutrition Stripped)

Cucumber Mint Cocktail (Dietitian Debbie Dishes)

Fermented Dill Pickles

EGGPLANT // Look for eggplant that is heavy for it's size and springs back when pressed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango (Serious Eats)

Grilled Eggplant and Pesto Sandwiches (Love & Lemons)

MELONS // Look for melons that are heavy for their size. Cantaloupes and honeydew should smell sweet when ripe. Watermelon is ripe when the pale spot on it's rind is a creamy yellow.

Cantaloupe Aguas Fresca 

Watermelon Cucumber Smoothie  (Healthfully Ever After)

Watermelon and Feta Salad 

PEACHES // To ripen a peach, store it at room temperature on the counter, stem side down. To further speed up ripening, store it in a paper bag where the trapped gasses will help ripen the fruit.

Flax and Oat Porridge with Grilled Peaches (A Cozy Kitchen)

Mason Jar Peach and Arugula Salad 

Peach Almond Yogurt Cheesecake Bars (The Roasted Root)

OKRA // Look for small okra, less than 3 or 4 inches long. Store in a paper towel or paper bag  in the refrigerator, as it will wilt or dry out if not not kept in breathable environment.

Blackened Okra (Naturally Ella)

Spicy Pickled Okra (Cottage at the Crossroads)

Roasted Okra with Chili Oil (Marisa Moore Nutrition)

PEPPERS // Peppers do well in the freezer. Chop and freeze in a zip top bag until ready to use.

Quinoa and Kale Stuffed Peppers

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles with Veggies (Keepin It Kind)

Polenta Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Edible Perspective)

SUMMER SQUASH // Smaller squash between 6-8 inches taste the sweetest. Squash doesn't freeze well, except if you grate it first. Grated squash can be mixed into stir fries, pasta sauce or used in baking.

Zucchini Poblano Cornbread (Yeah...Imma Eat That)

Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing (Sprouted Kitchen)

Green Panzanella with Zucchini and Cucumbers 

TOMATOES // To ripen tomatoes, place in a brown paper bag with a couple holes along with an apple. Never refrigerate tomatoes, which ruins their flavor.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto Brown Rice and Chickpeas

Taboulleh Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes (Tartelette)

Pasta with Cilantro Pesto, Corn and Tomatoes (Oh My Veggies)


Zucchini Chickpea Balls with Chopped Greek Salad

Ingredients

Zucchini Chickpea Balls:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Greek Salad: 

  • 3 cups halved cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dill, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Mix in almond meal, zucchini, onion, egg, garlic and salt until well combined.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Form 12-16 golf ball sized balls and place evenly on the baking sheet. Spray the tops of the balls with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway, until golden brown.
  4. While zucchini balls are baking, make the salad. Toss cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and olives together in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with sea salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Garnish with dill.

Greek Greens Frittata

Eggs are my secret to a quick, easy and delicious meal. Greek Greens frittata can be on the dinner table in less than thirty minutes! 

Back in February, when the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee dropped their recommendation to limit cholesterol, I was pretty excited. A long time egg lover (sunny side up and over, thank you!), I hate that eggs were demonized for so long. If you live in Columbia, you may have heard me yell out a Vicky Gunvalson-style "woo hoo!" when the news broke...or maybe that was your next door neighbor whose been subjecting himself to rubbery egg white omelets for years.

There's a small percentage of people considered "hyperresponders" to dietary cholesterol, usually someone with diabetes, an early history of heart disease or familial hypercholesterolemia. They should continue to limit eggs to just a few times a week. Otherwise, eggs are not only safe, but incredibly nutritious, yolk and all.

In fact, eggs are (you guessed it!) a Good Mood Food, and not just because that sunny yellow yolk makes you smile. Although it does that too :) Eggs, especially the yolks, are packed with nutrients that support brain health.

VITAMIN B12 // A deficiency in B12 can cause depression, anxiety, and lethargy, which in some cases can be severe. This vitamin plays many roles in the maintenance of the central nervous system, including the creation of neurotransmitters, DNA expression, and metabolism of fatty acids (remember, your brain is mostly fat). One whole egg contains 25% daily needs of B12.

VITAMIN D // Does more than build strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and most recently, depression. Vitamin D is needed to build neurotransmitters, for nerve growth, and seems to also reduce inflammation in the brain. Multiple studies have shown a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive issues and depression. Vitamin D, which is activated by the sun, has been proposed as the root cause of seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues. It's too early to know if vitamin D is an effective treatment, but one small study found supplementing vitamin D in women with severe depression reduced symptoms.

CHOLINE // Contained in the yolk is a nutrient called choline, which forms acetylcholine, the backbone of neurotransmitters. Most research has focused on deficiencies in serotonin as a root cause of depression - the most common antidepressants work on serotonin - but recent research indicates acetylcholine may play a role, especially for those who don't respond to traditional depression medications. Choline deficiency has also been linked to anxiety. Egg yolks happen to be an excellent source of choline, the most excellent source in fact!

OMEGA 3S // Likely the most studied nutrient for brain health, depression and anxiety and it's not just in fatty fish! Because pastured eggs significantly more omega 3 fats, it's a good reason to pay the few extra dollars.

Clearly, I'm a fan of the mood boosting benefits of eggs. But perhaps just as important - eggs are THE BEST for whipping up a quick, easy and family friendly dinner. Think omelet and a salad, veggie and potato scramble, veggie fried rice with a scrambled egg...heck, I'll throw an egg on some whole grain toast and cal it a day if I'm really pressed for time! But usually, it's a frittata that becomes my weeknight meal. We probably making one every week, either for a make ahead breakfast or dinner! This Greek inspired frittata was particularly tasty, especially when topped with a quick spicy tomato sauce. Feel free to use any greens you like, another good mood food, by the way, but we'll save that for another day!

Greek Greens Frittata

Feel free to use any greens you like. Spinach, chard and arugula would all work well. To save time, skip the tomato sauce and use jarred, souped up with a little crushed red pepper flakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 ounces goat or feta cheese, crumbled

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pureed tomatoes

Instructions

  1. In a medium, oven-proof skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add garlic and kale and saute, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 7-10 minutes depending on thickness. While kale is cooking, whisk oregano, salt and pepper into the eggs.
  2. After kale is wilted, add olives and stir. Pour eggs into the skillet, reduce heat to medium and cook without touching until mostly set. To cook the top, place briefly under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes.
  3. While frittata is cooking, make the tomato sauce. In a small pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Pour in pureed tomatoes. Simmer 5-10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper.

More egg dishes: 

Chickpea Pancake with Fried Egg & Chili Oil
Chickpea Pancake with Fried Egg & Chili Oil
Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
Kale & Cremini Mushroom Quiche with Blue Cheese
Kale & Cremini Mushroom Quiche with Blue Cheese

Giant Beans with Spinach, Tomatoes and Olives

By now, you hopefully know the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. But what does the real Mediterranean diet look like? Learn all about it in today's post, as well as a recipe for giant beans stewed with tomatoes, spinach and olives. 

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Diets just ain’t my thang.

As the saying goes, rules are meant to be broken.If you decide to follow a diet with strict guidelines, more than likely, you’ll do a better job finding the loopholes than following the actual diet. On  your fat free diet, you pass on French fries, only to binge on fat free cookies and jelly beans. You decide to take the Atkins approach, until your portions of meat start to look like Fred Flintstones. Okay, so it wasn’t the carbs, but rather the gluten. Pretty soon, you're spending your life savings to fuel your addiction to gluten-free pretzels and gluten-free cookies, all made with refined gluten-free flour of course. 

Instead, I like to think about patterns of eating vs diets. One of the patterns of eating that has a lot of science to back it is the Mediterranean diet. It received quite a bit of press recently when a large study reinforced its heart healthy benefits over other mainstream diets.  Earlier studies on the traditional Mediterranean diet have shown benefits for heart diseasecancerdiabete prevention and longevity.

Most importantly, the food is delicious!

Please know the real Mediterranean diet is not the same thing as our Americanized, or the Olive Garden version, as I like to call it. The Mediterranean diet encompasses the traditional diets of countries located on the Mediterranean coast. Not just Italy and Greece but Spain, France, North Africa, Turkey, and Israel among others. Their native dishes vary, but the one thing they have in common is a minimally processed diet with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, olive oil, nuts & seeds. Herbs and spices are frequently used for flavoring. Dairy is typically consumed from cheese and yogurt, and in smaller amounts. Sweets, red meats, and processed foods are rarely eaten, at the most a couple times a week.

The Mediterranean diet isn’t just about food – there is also an emphasis on the pleasure of eating and savoring meals with family and friends. Can you see why I’m such a fan?

Giant Beans with Spinach, Tomatoes and Olives

Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side dish

I found giant lima beans at Whole Foods in the bulk section. In the past, I've had a difficult time finding them. You could substitute regular lima beans or even cannelini beans, but the cooking times will change. Adapted from The New York Times. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb (a rounded cup) dried giant lima beans or gigantes beans

  • 1 onion, peeled and halved

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess water

  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 leek, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and sliced

  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

  • 1 28-ounce can tomato puree

  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives

Instructions

  1. Optional: Soak beans in enough water to cover overnight. If you do not soak the beans, add 30-60 minutes cooking time to the beans.

  2. Combine the beans, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a pot and cover with salted water by about two inches. Bring beans to a simmer and cook until al dente, about 2 hours for gigante beans or giant limas, 1 1/2 hours for cannellini beans. Using tongs, remove the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Drain the beans, collecting the bean broth in a bowl.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add the leek, scallions, and a pinch of salt, and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in spinach, parsley, dill, half the tomato puree, 1 cup bean broth, 1 tablespoon olive oil and half of the olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Pour the tomato-spinach mixture in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spread the remaining tomato puree over the top, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle on the remaining olives. Cover with a lid or aluminum oil and place in the oven. Bake for an hour, uncover, then bake for about an hour more until beans are creamy, but intact, casserole is bubbly but not soupy. If it looks dried out, you can add more bean broth.

  6. Let casserole sit for 15 minutes to cool before serving.