Light and easy

Prepare Italian-inspired gourmet winter meals.

Leek and feta patties (photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
Leek and feta patties
(photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
While it is still chilly outside and winter is not yet over, you may want to take a break from heavy stews and serve lighter Italian-inspired dishes that make use of the seasonal produce.
Brown Bistro-Bakery, which specializes in cakes, cookies and desserts, including homemade ice cream, also offers light meals, prepared by chef Alon Lipansky and his staff. It offers a rich menu that is made from local seasonal produce and inspired by modern American-Italian cuisine. We asked chef Lipansky to give us a few of his favorite recipes for dishes that although relatively easy to prepare at home will nevertheless impress your guests.
Makes 4
✔ ½ baguette, sliced diagonally into 1-cm.- thick slices
✔ 1 eggplant, halved and sliced into 0.5-cm. slices
✔ 200 gr. cherry tomatoes, halved
✔ 100 gr. feta cheese, cut into ½-cm. cubes (optional)
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ Sugar
Heat oven to 160°. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, and bake for 50 minutes.
Turn the heat up to 200°. Brush the eggplant with plenty of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake on a lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Rub one side of the baguette slices with a little olive oil and bake for 6 minutes at 180°.
Arrange the baked eggplant on the bread slices, place tomatoes on top and arrange the feta cubes. Return to the oven for 2 more minutes and serve hot with salad on the side.
Serves 4
✔ 2 leeks, white part only, chopped
✔ ½ bunch parsley, leaves only, chopped
✔ 1 bunch cilantro leaves only, chopped
✔ 4 eggs
✔ 100 gr. self-rising flour
✔ 150 gr. feta cheese, grated
✔ Salt, pepper and cumin
For the tzatziki
✔ 2 cucumbers, grated
✔ ½ clove garlic, minced
✔ 2 sprigs mint, leaves only
✔ 200 gr. yogurt
✔ Pinch salt
For the salad
✔ 3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
✔ 150 gr. green beans, blanched
✔ 2 sprigs mint, leaves only, chopped
✔ 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
✔ 50 gr. roasted pistachios, shelled
In boiling water, cook the leeks for 10 minutes, drain, let cool, squeeze out as much water as you can, and place in a large bowl.
Add parsley, cilantro, eggs, flour and feta cheese. Mix well and season to taste with salt, pepper and cumin.
Prepare patties, about 80 gr. each, (should make about 16 patties) and place on a lined baking sheet.
Heat oven to 220° and bake patties for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 160° and bake for 10 more minutes.
To prepare the dressing: Squeeze the grated cucumbers and place in a bowl. Add garlic and mint. Add the yogurt and mix well.
Season with salt to taste.
To prepare the salad:
Mix all the ingredients and season with a little olive oil, salt and lemon juice.
To serve: Divide the patties among 4 plates, 4 for each person. Place a small heap of salad on one side and a dollop of tzatziki on the other side.
Serves 4
✔ 800 gr. salmon fillet, cleaned
✔ 1 red pepper
✔ 1 zucchini
✔ 5 cauliflower florets
✔ ½ sweet potato
✔ ½ eggplant
✔ 250 gr. sheep yogurt
✔ Fresh thyme and oregano
✔ 1 lemon, quartered
Cut vegetables into wedges and season separately with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 220° and bake the eggplant, pepper and zucchini for 12 minutes.
Reduce heat of oven to 190° and bake the sweet potato for 18 minutes.
Cut the fish into four 200-gr. portions.
Season the fish with olive oil, fresh oregano leaves, salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 190° oven for 10 minutes.
To serve: Place 1 Tbsp. of yogurt on the side of the plate, arrange the baked vegetables on the other side and place 1 piece of fish in the middle.
Garnish with lemon wedges.
Serves 4
✔ 250 gr. Arborio rice (for risotto)
✔ 1 liter vegetable broth (see below)
✔ 150 gr. frozen green peas, blanched in boiling water
✔ 120 gr. spinach leaves, washed
✔ 10 basil leaves
✔ 120 gr. grated Parmesan
✔ 300 gr. pumpkin, peeled and cubed
✔ 1 leek, chopped
✔ 1 celery stalk, chopped
✔ 120 gr. butter
✔ 100 ml. white wine
✔ Cumin
✔ Silan
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
For the vegetable broth
✔ 1 carrot, peeled
✔ 2 celery stalks
✔ 1 onion
✔ 1 celeriac root, peeled
Cut vegetables coarsely and place in a pot with 1½ liters water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.
Season with salt.
To prepare pumpkin: Heat oven to 200°. Season the pumpkin with a little cumin, silan, olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap the pumpkin with double aluminum foil and place in a baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool a little and very carefully open the foil envelope.
To prepare risotto: In a low and wide pot, sauté the celery and leek in butter for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the rice and mix for 2 minutes. Turn heat to high, add the wine, ¼ of the broth and the baked pumpkin.
Cook, stirring constantly. When the liquid is absorbed, add more broth. Continue cooking and stirring, gradually adding more broth as the previous is absorbed until the rice is thick but still wet. Add the peas, spinach, basil and Parmesan, mix and season with salt and pepper.
Serve in deep soup plates with grated Parmesan on top.
Serves 4
✔ 800 gr. chicken breast, sliced
✔ 250 gr. quinoa
✔ 1 red onion
✔ 15 cherry tomatoes
✔ 4 broccoli florets, blanched
✔ 1 zucchini, cubed
✔ 50 gr. dried cranberries
✔ ½ bunch parsley
✔ 50 ml. white wine
✔ Salt and pepper
For the marinade
✔ 3 black Persian lemons, crushed
✔ 4 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ 5 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ ¼ tsp. salt
✔ ½ bunch parsley, chopped
✔ Zest of 1 lemon
Mix together all the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken for 4 hours (or overnight).
In a pot, boil 450 ml. water with a little salt. Add quinoa, reduce heat and cook for 14 minutes.
In another pot, sauté onion in a little olive oil, add zucchini, salt and pepper. Add the cooked quinoa and white wine, mix and add cranberries, parsley, broccoli and tomatoes. Taste and season with salt.
Heat oven to 180°. In a very hot skillet, sear chicken in a little oil until golden on both sides. Transfer to a baking dish and bake in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes.
Arrange the quinoa and vegetables on each serving plate, add 2 or 3 chicken slices and serve with lemon wedges. 
Recipes and photos courtesy of chef Alon Lipansky and Brown Bistro-Bakery, 10 Nissim Aloni,Street, G Compound, Tel Aviv; (03) 544-4024.