Tag: veggie

This recipe stems from one of those evenings when I was faced with a lean pantry and a fussy appetite, but now I go back to it regularly as it’s very simple and quick, but yields impressive and colorful results. I realize there’s a couple of ingredients included that might not be sitting in everyone’s pantry – but don’t worry.

1. If you don’t have/can’t find sweet soy sauce at your local supermarket, then try mixing in a spoonful of honey with some normal soy sauce instead for the same flavor profile.

2. I am a big fan of infused olive oils when done well, but fear not – a good quality olive oil will work just as well here, it just wont be quite as lemony, which might even be a preference for some.

Total time: 35 mins (10 mins prep, 25 mins cooking)

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a side/main


  • 2-3 large zucchini, enough to yield 2/12 cups when chopped
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil for frying
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp of kejap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 15.5 ounce tin of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2- 3 ripe plum tomatoes or one large ripe heirloom tomato (depending on the season)
  • 2 tbsp of lemon infused olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning


Wash the zucchini thoroughly so the skin is shiny and clean and then chop into slices the thickness of a dollar.

Now gently heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Test if it’s ready for frying by adding one slice of the zucchini to the pan – it should start to sizzle nicely.

Now add all the zucchini to the pan and coat evenly with the heated oil. Allow the slices to fry on one side for at least a couple of minutes before flipping to check that they are starting to brown.

The zucchini should take about 7 – 10 minutes total to pan fry. When they are halfway done, you can add the chopped garlic – I don’t like adding too early as it tends to burn and burnt garlic is not a good addition to any salad, trust me!

A minute before removing completely from the heat, add the Ketjap Manis to the pan. TIP!! Be sure to have your extractor/fan going as the pan is going to be hot and any soy sauce tends to smoke when heated like this. Adding the soy sauce and allowing the zucchini to fry in this sweet, bubbling mixture for a minute adds a a nice sticky char to the veggies, just watch them and don’t let them burn.

Remove the zucchini from the heat and keep the pan covered while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Toss the garbanzo beans into a large serving bowl.

Chop the tomatoes into eighths or if you’re using one of those mammoth heirlooms probably much smaller pieces. There’s no hard and fast rule here – however you like to eat your tomatoes in a salad is fine, but ideally they’d be similar size chunks to your zucchini.

Add the tomato to the beans and now tip in the warm zucchini. Add the lemon olive oil, lemon juice, sesame seeds and season well. Combine thoroughly to ensure all the lemon and oils become infused into the warm veggies. Serve with hot crusty bread, plank salmon, seared halloumi cheese or even simple grilled chicken. Enjoy!

I’ll be the first to admit I was a little skeptical when the signs first went up for the new Yayla bistro. Not because I don’t like Turkish food, on the contrary – it’s one of my favorite cuisines. However, Yayla’s was taking over the treasured french bakery on my street where I could get authentically baked baguettes and gooey pain au chocolat on a Sunday morning – I was panic stricken and went into mourning for my euro brethren. Then yesterday morning a funny thing happened, Kenny came home with a piping hot bag of french pastries and informed me that the Cote D’Or had not closed for good, the owners had merely downsized their premises so to speak and were now serving my beloved croissants through a back door, round the other side of the block. All was not lost, Vivre La France! This happened to coincide with the official opening of the Yayla bistro, so I could now confidently partake in a meal in our new neighborhood joint, safe in the knowledge everyone was happily doing business side by side.

I am extremely glad I had this change of heart because Yayla’s did not disappoint. As mentioned, this was opening weekend, so there were definitely some glitches and we’ll get them out the way before I start fawning over the food.


The interiors are admittedly a little confusing; when I think Turkish bistro, I imagine warm, inviting and moreover informal interiors. This costly revamp has unfortunately left the bistro a little stark and shiny, lots of stainless steel, replete with crisp table cloths and towering wine glasses. Not unpleasant by any means, just a contrast from what most will probably be expecting. There was also an awkward quietness in the dining room for the first fifteen minutes of our arrival, due to a lack of music, after which we were finally entertained with some jolly and appropriate Mediterranean numbers, which brought me a little closer to the theme at hand.


The service was overall exceptional. A minor hiccup early on with an appetizer was swiftly remedied with no fuss and our server did a great job making recommendations for the entrees and desserts. My only real complaint was that Kenny’s plate was cleared the minute he stopped eating, even though I had not – which left me as the embarrassing slow eater at the table. When I trained as a server in my youth this was rule 1. Never clear a plate until all parties have finished eating, it’s just good manners.


Now for the good stuff. It’s Turkish – so the menu is mainly made up of a variety of cold/hot mezze dishes with a few interesting and honestly mouth watering kebab/seafood /pide entree options.

Meze or mezze /ˈmɛzeɪ/ is a selection of small dishes served in the Middle East and the Balkans. In Levantine and Caucasian cuisines, and in parts of the Balkans, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals.[1]

For our appetizer we chose the 3 cold mezze plate combo with Imam Biyaldi (eggplant stuffed with onions, peppers and garlic), Baba Ghanoush (spiced, roasted and mashed eggplant dip) and Cacik ( a  traditional middle eastern strained yoghurt, cucumber and garlic dip).

All three were light, tasty and accompanied by bottomless rounds of hot turkish bread. TIP!! Beware the bread basket, it is easy to eat your entire body weight in this dangerous, doughy goodness.

The entrees of buttery, sautéed shrimp and donor kebab were satisfying but the pièce de résistance for this meal, was the dessert. Our waiter tried to sway me towards the rice pudding and I’m sure it’s divine. But if you get the chance to visit Yayla’s – do not miss the apricot bites. A long smear of creamy mascarpone cheese topped with honey soaked apricots, pistachios and a drizzle of butterscotch sauce was enough to ensure we will be coming back frequently. This was topped off with a couple of near perfect turkish coffees and all for under $50.

Great food, great service, great value – and I’m sure they’ll get there with the ambience. For Day 1 this was an impressive score. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Yayla’s Bistro 22201 N. Westmoreland St, Arlington, VA, 22213.


For those of you that know me, the fact that I am starting my reviews with my beloved local beach shack is probably no surprise. Part of me doesn’t want to let others into the relatively well kept secret that is Clare and Don’s, but that would be selfish and I just have to explain why this laid back, dog friendly diner-cum-cocktail bar has stolen my heart.

It is true to say that like any other beach bar, Clare and Don’s comes into its own once the weather starts to rise into the 80’s. But even in winter, though it may be 50 miles from the nearest sea shore the owners Clare and Don have done a nice job of  keeping the theme warm. There are heaters on the covered patio for those brave of heart and furry of paw or if you prefer cozying up indoors there’s no shortage of options. Sidle up to the authentic wooden bar adorned with beach signs and surf boards or pull up a chair at one of the many rustic dining tables. Enjoy an array of delicious, albeit not especially ‘healthy’ menu items, which include a wide range of quirky seafood and vegetarian appetizers. There’s also an impressive list of hearty salads, burgers and mains to keep most people happy. My favorites include the perfectly golden fried, coconut shrimp, a carefully crafted crab cake appetizer and the supremely delicious Shrimp ‘N’ Grits – a cheesy, fragrant entree that is definitely not for those on a diet… Vegetarians can rejoice too as almost everything on the menu has a veggie alternative – even Tofu ‘N’ Grits. I’ve tried it and it’s GOOD!

So I’ve talked about the food, now let’s get down to the real business here – the cocktails. They’re well made, well priced and will get you well on your way to, well – as long as you’re not driving – somewhere else. From Mai Tais to Painkillers, frozen or on the rocks, the bar here has got you covered.

The real beauty of this tiny bar, hidden in the back of a parking lot in Falls Church, is its ability to transport you from the middle of suburban Virginia to a beach somewhere in the Keys… When the weather turns hot, Clare and Don’s becomes the buzzing heart of this small community. Relaxed friendly service, regular live music on the outdoor stage, a tiki bar on the patio and Pina Coladas that would make Jimmy Buffet blush – it’s what keeps me and everyone else coming back. If you haven’t been – go soon, just don’t tell everyone…

Overall Rating: 9/10





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