Friday, April 26, 2013

Fresh for Spring

When spring finally comes (in Boston it really popped this morning) it's time for quick, simple, light cooking. Here are some ideas I've done this April:

Teryaki salmon skewers with fresh pineapple, red bell pepper, and scallions

Cut salmon into chunks and veggies into large dice for grilling and marinate in a sesame-soy-ginger-teryaki mixture, then place on soaked skewers and grill.

Spring pea salad with walnuts and dates
Boil fresh peas and blanch snow peas and sugar snap peas so that they still retain a bright green color. Saute a medium shallot in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the three types of peas with shallots, cayenne pepper, walnuts, slivered dates a drizzle of walnut oil.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Cava Mezze Grill is a more recent Bethesda restaurant addition that does "upscale fast food" right. A Mediterranean cafeteria, Mezze allows you to customize your meal with fresh, interesting ingredients - it's the antithesis to McDonalds in every way except for speed.

You start with a base: pita, bowl, mini pitas, salad, to start building your sandwich/wrap/etc.
Next you can choose from their tasty dips and spreads: hummus, eggplant & red pepper, tzatziki, roasted red pepper hummus, and "crazy feta."
Then you select your protein: chicken, grilled meatballs, lamb, beef, or falafel (which I chose, and they were crispy, used with fresh chickpeas for that lovely hint of green and amazing texture.)
Then you add your toppings: tomato and onion/cucumber salad, cabbage, feta, kalamata olives, diced cucumbers, basmati rice, fresh mint, lemon, pickled onions, etc.
and dressing: yogurt dill, lemon herb tahini, spicy harissa, and Greek vinaigrette.
Warning: I got some harissa on my salad (with falafel, roasted red pepper dip, feta, and lemon herb, the bright pop of green on top) and it is extremely spicy. I've had harissa in Morocco, and knew what to expect, but if you're not big on spice then taste it with caution. It's intense. Awesome, but admittedly intense.

Cava is a bit pricier than other quick lunch options, certainly more than a dollar menu or sub chain, but you get the quality you pay for. The portions are massive, the veggies are crisp and the dips authentic, and even though it's a quick-order line, the interior of the cafe is very cozy if you do want to stay rather than take it to go. A great choice for lunch with friends. 3 stars.