Pascale's Kitchen: Quick & elegant is the name of the game

This week I have provided you, my readers, with a number of recipes using different colors, cooking methods and textures.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH HERBS (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH HERBS
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Before corona, I used to meet up regularly with a group of friends. This year, these get-togethers have been replaced with long and intense conversations on the phone or Zoom. During one such conversation, a friend recently told me how she’s used all this extra time to do home renewal projects, including organizing drawers and closets. She even rearranged her books according to binding color, which I admittedly found a bit bizarre.
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But then I got to thinking about how I decide which dishes to include in my meals, and how it’s so important to me to make dishes with different colors, textures and types of preparation. For example, if one of the dishes I created was fried, I would not serve another fried dish at the same time. And of course, I love to involve as many bright and beautiful colors as possible for each meal.
This week I have provided you, my readers, with a number of recipes using different colors, cooking methods and textures. The common denominator between them is that they are easy and quick prepare, but also look quite elegant on the table.
Two of them are filo pastries that come from Balkan cuisine, one meat and one dairy. These spiral-shaped pastries are baked until they turn golden brown and can also be filled with vegetarian ingredients, or with a sweet filling with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. For the latter version, you can also pour a delicious sugary syrup on top to achieve a most decadent result.
The third recipe is for savory and spicy butternut squash slices. The recipe is really easy to put together and comes out looking gorgeous. The last recipe – noodles with almonds and raisins – hails from Moroccan cuisine and is also very easy. This tasty dish can be eaten with any of the other recipes I’ve included in this column.
Bon appétit!
MEAT-FILLED FILO PASTRY
Use a 27-28 cm. diameter pan.
¼ cup oil
2 large onions, chopped finely
400 gr. ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp. baharat
1 egg
6 sprigs of parsley, chopped finely
6 sheets of filo dough
Oil spray
Toppings:
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. nigella seeds
1 sheet filo dough
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the ground beef and cook it while breaking it apart until it turns gray. Cover the pan and cook for 6-7 minutes over a medium flame until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the salt, pepper and baharat and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the flame and add the egg and parsley. Mix well.
Lay out a sheet of filo dough on your work surface and spray it lightly with oil spray. Add another sheet of dough on top and spray that one too. Repeat with a third layer. Spoon on the meat filling along the edge closest to you (make sure not to scoop up any liquid). Roll up the dough starting with the side closest to you.
Carefully wind the roll into a spiral snail shape and carefully place on a greased baking pan. Prepare a second snail-shaped spiral in the same fashion.
Spray the pastries lightly with oil spray and then sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds. Cut up the remaining piece of filo dough into squares and fashion flowers out of them, then push them down into the space between the two pastries. Spray them with oil spray.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180°-190°C for 25-30 minutes until they have turned golden brown.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Type: Meat.
Meat-filled filo pasty (Photos: Pascale Perez-Rubin)Meat-filled filo pasty (Photos: Pascale Perez-Rubin)
CHEESE AND SWISS CHARD FILO PASTRY
Use 2 pans with 18-cm. diameter.
6 sheets filo dough
Oil spray
Filling:
200 gr. swiss chard leaves or spinach, poached and squeezed well, then torn into strips
200 gr. feta or Bulgarian cheese
150 gr. kashkaval cheese, grated coarsely
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano or za’atar, rinsed well
Toppings:
2 sprigs of oregano or za’atar
1 sheet of filo dough
Lay out a sheet of filo dough on your work surface and spray it lightly with oil spray. Add another sheet of dough on top and spray that one too. Repeat with a third layer. Place the swiss chard or spinach pieces along the edge of the filo dough closest to you. Spread a layer of feta or Bulgarian cheese next, and then on top of that the kashkaval cheese. Top with oregano or za’atar leaves. Roll up the pastry from the side closed to you.
Carefully wind the roll into a spiral snail shape and carefully place on a greased baking pan. Prepare a second snail shaped spiral in the same fashion.
Cut up the remaining piece of filo dough into squares and fashion flowers out of them, then push them down into the space between the two pastries. Spray them with oil spray.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C for 25-30 minutes until they have turned golden brown.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 40 minutes.
Type: Dairy.
Cheese and Swiss chard filo pastryCheese and Swiss chard filo pastry
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH HERBS
Makes 6 servings.
1 large butternut squash
2 spicy green peppers, sliced thinly
8 sprigs of oregano or thyme
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tsp. sumac
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. pomegranate concentrate
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Utensils:
Baking paper
Aluminum foil
Peel the squash and cut into 1-cm. thick slices. Place them in a bowl with the thyme, garlic, sumac, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Arrange the slices on a baking tray and add the pepper pieces alongside them. Add the herb mixture on top.
Cover with baking paper and then on top of that cover tightly with foil so that the steam will not escape.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C for 30 minutes. Uncover and broil for another 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 40 minutes.
Type: Pareve.
NOODLES WITH ALMONDS AND RAISINS
Makes 6-8 servings.
2½ cups water
½ cup dry white wine
50 gr. margarine or oil
1 Tbsp. chicken soup powder
½ Tbsp. white pepper
2 bay leaves
200 gr. egg noodles #12
3 Tbsp. oil
100 gr. almonds, oil-poached and peeled
100 gr. raisins
Pour the water into a pot and add the wine and margarine. Heat over a medium flame. Add the soup powder, white pepper and bay leaves. Mix and bring to a boil.
Add the egg noodles and cook for 10 minutes until they’ve softened. Drain.
Heat the oil in a pan and then add the almonds and raisins. Sauté until golden brown.
Arrange the noodles on a serving tray and sprinkle raisins and almonds on top. Serve hot.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 30 minutes.
Type: Pareve.
Noodles with almonds and raisins Noodles with almonds and raisins
Translated by Hannah Hochner.