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Recipes: A Mediterranean Trio

Melissa Clark is an American food writer and a columnist for the New York Times Food section, where she reports on food trends, creates recipes and appears in cooking videos linked to her column, A Good Appetite. She is the author of over 40 cookbooks and has received multiple awards for her work. A Jewish native of Brooklyn, her column has included some delicious holiday recipes. I love her Haroseth Truffles - delicious any time of year.

I'm very grateful to Melissa for allowing us to include some of her recipes in the ESRA Magazine. Always vibrant and delightful, I've found that her recipes, which are both easy to follow and not too complicated, produce delicious dishes. I'm including three which I can personally recommend. 

 Lemon Bars with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Adding good olive oil and a pinch of sea salt makes these lemon bars irresistible.

YIELD 24 bars

TIME 1 hour 30 minutes, plus cooling and chilling


For the crust:

1 ¼ cups / 155 grams all-purpose flour

¼ cup / 50 grams granulated sugar

3 tablespoons / 25 grams confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon fine grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

10 tablespoons / 142 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For the curd:

4 to 6 lemons

1 ½ cups / 300 grams sugar

2 large eggs plus 3 yolks

1 ½ teaspoons / 5 grams cornstarch

Pinch of fine sea salt

4 tablespoons/57 grams butter

¼cup / 60 ml. fruity extra virgin olive oil

Confectioners' sugar and flaky salt, for sprinkling


Step 1

Heat oven to 325° f/165°c and line a 23x23 cm (9x9 inch) baking pan with enough parchment to hang over two of the sides (to be used as handles later to lift the bars out of the pan).

Step 2

To make the shortbread base, pulse together the flour, granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor, or whisk together in a large bowl. Add butter and pulse (or use two knives or your fingers) to cut the butter into the flour until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into prepared pan and bake until shortbread is pale golden all over, 30 to 35 minutes.

Step 3

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon curd: Grate 1/2 tablespoon zest from lemons and set aside. Squeeze lemons to yield 3/4 cup juice.

Step 4

In a small saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, sugar, eggs and yolks, cornstarch, and fine sea salt over medium heat until boiling and thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Make sure mixture comes to a boil and stays there for 30 seconds or so; you should see it thicken up before you take it off the heat. But once it boils do not cook for longer than 1 minute or you risk the curd thinning out again. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in butter, olive oil and lemon zest.

Step 5

When the shortbread is ready, take it out of the oven and carefully pour the lemon curd onto the shortbread base; return the pan to the oven. Bake until topping is just set, 10 to 15 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and flaky sea salt right before serving.

Watch Melissa make the bars:

Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs 

I had never bought a jar of anchovies before making this dish but I'm very glad I did. It's simply delicious…the cabbage gives it crunch, the sage gives it flavor and the anchovies add just the right amount of zest. Sharyn

Yield 4 to 6 servings

Time 40 minutes


5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 anchovy fillets

½ cup coarse bread crumbs

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage

¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more, to taste

Salt, to taste

500 grams dry penne

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

8 cups shredded cabbage

⅔ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan


Step 1

Mince one garlic clove. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook, mashing with a spatula, until they dissolve into the butter. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the bread crumbs and sage and cook until bread is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Season with black pepper.

Step 2

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until barely al dente. Drain.

Step 3

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the chili and cook until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Toss in the pasta and bread-crumb mixture and heat through, then quickly toss in the cheese and remove from heat. Season with salt and more pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

 Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

This easy to prepare red lentil soup can be served chunky or smooth. The cumin and lemon give it a delicious Mediterranean twist.

YIELD 4 servings

TIME 45 minutes


3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 cup red lentils

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Juice of ½ lemon, more to taste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Step 1

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

Step 2

Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Step 3

Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Step 4

Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

Step 5

Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.



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Sunday, 25 February 2024

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