Avocado and Arugula Tostadas

Avocado and Arugula Tostadas are a quick and easy dish you can throw together in these long, hot days of summer.

These vegetarian tostadas are very satisfying and also quite versatile.

I like to serve them as a combination salad / vegetable / starch alongside one of my Southwest soups, but you can add chopped chicken, pork, steak or even tofu before the broiling step (under the cheese) to elevate it to a main course. They can also be served as a first course.  The tostadas are already high in fiber and low in saturated fat, but you can make them even healthier by using no-fat refried beans. You can also shorten the cooking and assembly time by using pre-crisped corn tortillas and packaged shredded cheese.

Ingredients

  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup homemade or 1/2 can refried beans
  • 4 oz. grated cotija or Jack cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • Optional additional garnishes:  Pico de Gallo, pickled jalapeños, sour cream

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange tortillas on it in a single layer. Bake for about 5 minutes, checking often, then turn the tortillas over and bake until toasted and crunchy, about 3-5 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside, leaving the heat on.

Whisk the lime juice, vinegar, olive oil and cilantro in a bowl large enough to hold the arugula, then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat the refried beans in a small dish in the microwave, then spread a generous amount on each tortilla and top with the grated cheese.

Return the tortillas to the oven and increase the heat to broil, cooking for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Meanwhile, toss the arugula with the lime/cilantro vinaigrette. After removing from the oven, top the tostada with the arugula salad, then avocados, and serve with Pico de Gallo, pickled jalapeños and sour cream on the side.

Avocado and Arugula Tostadas
Avocado and Arugula Tostadas are satisfying and pretty

Copyright Glover Gardens Cookbook, 2016

What’s in a Name? Turkey Cevap on a Pita

Turkey Cevap by the Pool
Turkey Cevap is as appealing as it is tasty.

It Started with the Lamb Patties from Epicurious

I found a recipe recently for grilled Middle Eastern lamb patties, which I shared with you here.  They were really good, and I started wondering if the really-goodness was about the ground lamb, or if it was the spices and preparation.  So I started experimenting and concocted a turkey version that we like even better.  More Southwestern than Middle Eastern, these grilled turkey patties pack a wallop of fiery flavors and are nestled in a soft pita with bright, fresh garnishes and a cooling avocado-yogurt sauce.

We loved them so much that I made them three times in two weeks.  They’re that good.

What’s in a Name?

I struggled with what to name this recipe, though.  “Patties” just didn’t sound right to me – that word is synonymous with burgers and their customary round shape.  My ground turkey delights, like the predecessor lamb version, are shaped like a fat cigar, a short sausage or a lumpy hot dog.  What to call them???  Kebabs?  No, because kebab signifies a skewer.  Sausages? Dogs?  Not quite right.

Cafe Pita Introduced Us to Cevap

The Grill-Meister rose to the naming challenge and came up with the winner, Turkey Cevap.  Brilliant!  We first learned of cevap when we found a marvelous Bosnian restaurant in Houston a few years ago.  It had been featured on the TV Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and the host Guy Fieri was a big fan.

Cevap at Cafe Pita
Beef cevap sandwich on lepinja bread at Cafe Pita; photo from their web site.

The dish that wowed Guy, the Grill-Meister and I was the beef cevap on lepinja bread. The Cafe Pita segment is worth watching. Cafe Pita is worth a visit, too, if you are in Houston.  Yum!

The Grill-Meister was right.  Cevap is the right name for our little turkey pieces, although the traditional minced or ground meats are beef, lamb or pork.  Click here to read about the history of cevap, or cevapi, which has its roots in the Ottoman Empire (1300s) and is considered the national dish of Bosnia.  I like to think that our turkey version honors those roots, with a Glover Gardens twist.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

Cevap

  • 3 lbs ground turkey (relatively lean is best)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, pressed (use more if you are mincing; the garlic is important)
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried chili pepper or cayenne (if you like it spicy like we do; if not use 1 teaspoon the first time you make it, then ratchet it up)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, about 1/2 cup

Avocado-Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 5 large mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup lowfat plain greek yogurt
  • salt to taste

12 whole wheat or white pita breads

Garnishes: chopped or torn mint, cilantro, sliced fresh jalapeño, red onion, halved grape tomatoes

Cooking Instructions

Turkey Cevap Before Grilling
Shape the cevap into 4-5 inch long fat cigars

Mix together the salt and spices for the cevap in a small bowl, then add to the ground turkey in a large bowl along with the garlic and cilantro, and mix with your hands.  Shape into 12 sausage-shaped patties, about 4-5 inches long.

Refrigerate the sausages for 30 minutes while the grill is heating up.

To make the avocado sauce, blend all ingredients except the salt in a mini-processor or blender briefly, then add salt to taste.  You can also just mash the avocado and combine with the other ingredients in a bowl if you a prefer a sauce that is chunky rather than smooth.

Grill the cevap sausages until they are done, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove and cover with foil.  Briefly grill the pita to warm it, then serve the cevap on the pita with the garnishes and sauce.

 

Turkey Cevap Plated
With its bright and flavorful garnishes of mint, cilantro, jalapeño, onion, tomato and creamy avocado yogurt sauce, the cevap is almost one-dish meal – all four major food groups are represented.

I can’t emphasize enough how quick, easy and absolutely stellar this dish is – absolutely perfect for summer outdoor entertaining when you want to spend more time chatting with your guests than preparing and serving the meal.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe:  Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt from Epicurious.com

Easy weeknight dinner from Epicurious.com:

51237020_middle-eastern-lamb-patties_1x1
Photo from Epicurious / David Malosh

“Whether you spell it kefta or köfte or kufte or some other variation, you can find versions of these lamb or beef meatballs throughout the Middle East. The seasoning mixture here is simple, with spices you should already have on your shelf and you can play around, adding fresh or dried mint, grated onion, or a pinch of cinnamon. And if you like a garlicky yogurt sauce, by all means, add a minced clove.”

The Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties described above sounded perfect when I found them via a quick search on my phone’s Epicurious app for a weeknight meal: quick, easy, reasonably healthy, and tasty.  That all proved to be true: I started assembling ingredients at 6:24 p.m., the Grill-Meister heated up the grill at 7:00, and we were enjoying our concoction by 7:20.  That’s just right for a Monday night. Find the recipe here: Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt recipe | Epicurious.com .  (And yes, of course we added garlic to the yogurt sauce.)

grilled lamb pita
We topped our lamb with red onions and arugula in addition to the herb-laden yogurt sauce and served the pita alongside a quick cucumber salad

High-Temp Eye of Round Roast Faux-Fajitas

A Fajita Craving

When we’re at Little House in the Rockies, sometimes we have to substitute ingredients and combine things we wouldn’t ordinarily put together.  We were in the mood for fajitas on this trip but the country grocery store didn’t have skirt steak, so I impulsively chose an eye of round roast and thought I could make do.

What I didn’t realize, being an eye of round roast newbie, is that it is an extremely lean cut of beef and can therefore be extremely tough.  Whoops!

What to do?  Change the recipe plan and use the tortillas, jalapeños, avocados, etc. on another night?  Or boldly go forth and try to create Faux-Fajitas?  (Or should we call them Faux-Jitas?)

Making Do with Eye of Round Roast

I’m sure you’ve guessed which path we chose, Dear Reader.  A Google search and some good-looking roasting recipes gave us the confidence that we could do a nice, rare/medium-rare roast and then slice our way to Faux-Jitas.

Here’s our take on it.

Ingredients

  • Eye of round roast, about 2 1/2 to 3 lbs.
  • 1 tsp. salt (I prefer coarse kosher salt for this type of cooking, but alas, we had only fine – and it was fine)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper or course ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Flour tortillas

Optional Garnishes

Cooking Instructions

Combine spices in a small bowl, then spread over all sides of the roast.  Put the roast on top of a piece of foil in a baking dish.  Let it stand at room temperature for an hour, and when there are only 15 minutes left, preheat the oven to 500, making sure that the rack is in the middle of the oven.

Put the roast in quickly on the middle rack and shut the door.  Cook the roast for 5 minutes per pound, and then turn off the oven.  Keep the roast in the oven for 1 1/2 more hours, and do not open the door.  At all.  Even if you are tempted.  Don’t do it.  Just look through the oven door with the light on.

Remove the roast and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.  Use this guide for your desired temperature, or your own preference.  Tent the roast about ten minutes for the juices to settle; it will cook a little more while it rests. Slice fairly thin and serve with tortillas and garnishes.  I put the slices back into the pan juices and broiled them for about 30 seconds just before serving so they’d be hot.

The Whole Story, In Pictures

Gather All Ingredients - High Temp Eye of Round Roast
Gather the ingredients first, as always
Spice Mix for Eye of Round Roast
I remembered to line the pan with foil
IMG_2155
It has the promise of a nice meal even before being cooked
IMG_2156
It had just gone into the oven; I made a promise to myself NOT to open the door
IMG_2165
Tent the roast for about ten minutes after removing from the oven
Roast Out
This is what it looks like when you remove the tent
IMG_2170
It was a lovely rare / medium rare
Roast Ready to Serve
We sliced about a third of the roast and put in under the broiler for 30 seconds to reheat, then served it with tortillas, our favorite condiments and a black bean salad
IMG_2177
The roast slices made lovely Faux Fajitas; we’re going to do this again!

We were really, really happy about learning this technique for eye of round roast and will definitely use it again.  There’s a lot of beef left and we’re planning a cool meal with the leftovers.  Of course you can expect to see a post about it.  🙂

 

 

Crab Quesadillas

OK, who doesn’t love quesadillas? They’re like a tiny, warm little sandwich your mother made for you to eat after school. Yum. Portable, finger-food, dip-able, easy to make.

Did I say yum? Did I say easy?

I’ve got a dozen quesadilla approaches, maybe more.  Today I’m sharing with you the crab version. It’s easy, classy and a great appetizer for guests.  It can also be a main course for family dinner on Sunday night, served with something clean and fresh on the side like cucumber salad. The delicate taste of the crab is beautifully balanced by the warm crunch of the tortilla and the spice of the condiments.  And for all you seafood haters, just substitute chopped or shredded chicken for the crab.

Delicate and yet spicy, these quesadillas are finger-food heaven
Delicate and yet spicy, these quesadillas are finger-food heaven; serve them with condiments for dipping.

This recipe serves four as a main course or 8-10 as an appetizer.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cooked lump crabmeat, or two 6 oz. cans, drained
3 green onions, chopped
1 can of green chiles, hot or mild, depending on your taste
2 cups of shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
1/3 cup of mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Zippy Southwest or other southwest spice mix
2 tbsp olive oil
12 flour tortillas

Cooking Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the crabmeat, green onions, green chiles, 1 cup of the shredded jack cheese, mayonnaise, cilantro and seasoning until completely mixed.

Put olive oil in a small bowl and arrange six tortillas on one or two baking sheets.  Using a pastry brush, spread olive oil on one side of the tortillas, then turn them over and top with the crab mixture, dividing it evenly between the six tortillas. Distribute the remaining 1 cup of shredded jack cheese evenly over the crab mixture, then top with another tortilla.  Spread olive oil on the top tortillas, then put the quesadillas in the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes.  Turn over the quesadillas after 7 minutes and check after an additional 3 minutes.  The tortillas should be lightly browned.

Cut into quarters and serve hot with sides of your choice:  sour cream, Pico de Gallo, guacamole and salsa.

Assemble the filling ingredients first
Assemble the filling ingredients first
This is what it looks like after you mix it
This is what it looks like after you mix it
Spread the filling evenly on the tortillas
Spread the filling evenly on the tortillas
After you top the quesadilla with the second tortillas, spread the tops with olive oil
After you top the quesadilla with the second tortillas, spread the tops with olive oil
The finished product is a delightful and appealing finger food
The finished product is a delightful and appealing finger food