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Mediterranean Cooking from the Garden with Linda Dalal Sawaya—A season of gratitude and greens!

posted on: Nov 18, 2015

braised kale with garlic, lemon, and olive oil © linda dalal sawaya 2015

As we enter a season of gratitude and abundance, namely Thanksgiving, it is a blessing to be aware of all we have to give thanks for. Best to do this every day of the year, and yet how wonderful to focus on this with intention as we do now in a time of abundance and fall harvest.

In the garden, thankfully, the rains have returned to the Pacific Northwest where I live, and where we’ve had the driest summer on record. This fall, I planted a bed of greens, as I’d missed the opportunity in spring with its unseasonably warm weather.

Those greens are thriving with the now cool, damp days. Even the slugs have returned, although their absence was one of the great benefits of a summer and early fall drought—they were not missed!

My fall greens include Italian parsley, spearmint, arugula, kale, chard, spinach, cilantro, and lettuce. A few of these I have written about; and there are so many ways to use all of them, I am grateful to have a thriving kitchen garden with fresh greens to add to my upcoming holiday table.

Italian parsley in my fall garden © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Italian parsley and spearmint are major components of salads: tabbouli, fattoush, and are a favorite addition to a Lebanese omelette, ijhee.

ingredients for Lebanese omelette © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Lebanese omelette ijhee made with parsley and spearmint © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Spinach pies would not be the same without their flavors, nor would stuffed cabbage, malfouf mihshi, or stuffed vegan grape leaves be the same without their flavors and nutrients.

vegan stuffed grape leaves with parsley and mint © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Add greens to your lentil soup along with some lemon juice and garlic.

ingredients for lentil soup © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Italian parsley detail © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Italian parsley in my fall garden © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Here are a few more ideas of lovely ways to use your fall greens in Mediterranean style cooking:

Sautéed greens with caramelized onions, spinach or chard pies, stuffed cabbage, chard, or grape leaves, and salads.

sautéed kale with lemon, garlic, and olive oil © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Try making a kale fattoush, a frittata with kale, or add sautéed kale to your Thanksgiving table side dishes.

tabbouli with quinoa © linda dalal sawaya 2015

Last fall I had the blessing to be in my parents’ village of Douma in Lebanon, and saw a parsley patch much like my own, but strewn with long pine needles where it grew underneath. Adjacent to it in the same bed was a verdant, abundant patch of baqle, purslane ready to cut for salads and savory pies in lieu of spinach.

Italian parsley in a Douma garden © linda dalal sawaya 2015

The possibilities are endless, and the key is finding in your garden, farmers’ market, or grocery, what is in season and fresh! Add our simple mashed garlic paste with salt, lemon, and olive oil to any of these greens, as a perfect balance to heavier entrées. Enjoy the season, we have much to be grateful for. Sahtein!

—Linda Dalal Sawaya is a Portland artist, cook, Master Gardener, daughter of Lebanese immigrants, and author of Alice’s Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking 

Remember, as my mother Alice said, “If you make it with love, it will be delicious!”

story and all photos © linda dalal sawaya 2015