Vegetarian Carbonara


My husband is always at work or at our store so that means I get to make more of the meals that I enjoy. I am much more into eating salads, pastas and vegetarian dishes. I love the real Italian pasta and I promise you will not even notice that this is a meat free dish. Fresh arugula on top of pasta just is the perfect ending in my book. Also make sure that you follow the directions because you do not want to end up scrambling your sauce.

sea salt
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 2-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
2-1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup arugula

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1-1/2 tablespoons cold water. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring milk to a boil, then whisk in cornstarch mixture. Whisking constantly, cook milk mixture until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes; remove from heat. Whisking, pour about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into bowl with eggs. Repeat twice, then, whisking, add the egg mixture back to remaining milk mixture. Whisk in cheese and 1 teaspoon salt.

3. In a non-stick skillet on medium heat add tomatoes, cook until tender. Add garlic and basil, cook a remaining minute.

3. Drain pasta, then return to pot. Add egg mixture to hot pasta; toss to combine. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes (pasta will absorb some of the sauce), then toss again. Add tomatoes. Adjust seasoning, if desired, then divide among serving bowls. Spoon extra sauce over the top. Add a handful of fresh arugula on top of each bowl. Serve immediately.

Yields: 4-6 servings

Chicken and Oats Soup


This soup is an easy and classic soup made in Saudi homes. Simple recipes like this is what I prefer to make for lunch. I usually use sea salt to flavor soups because it’s so much stronger than table salt. That being said use a small amount and taste to make sure you do not add too much. What can I say I like my salt. I blame it all on my grandparents who could not get enough of the stuff.

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
8 cups chicken broth
10 tablespoons oats
1 large zucchini, sliced
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a saucepan on medium heat add olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook until tender then add chicken, browning on both sides and add cardamom, cumin and oats, mix.

2. Add zucchinis and then carefully pour in chicken broth. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low and cover. Allow to cook for 20 minutes.

Yields: 3 servings

Iraqi Churek


I love to make this bread for a light lunch alongside tea or coffee. The recipe has a light hint of rose water and sweetness. Not enough to make it too sweet but just enough to make it perfect. When you’re making a sweet dough it always turns out better if you allow it to rise a little longer so for mine I like to give it a good four hours. I just set it in the oven with the light on (make sure the oven has not been used because too much heat will make the yeast overgrow and it will taste bad). When you’re kneading it resist the urge to add more flour because the dough should be a bit sticky. Also when you roll it out do not leave it too high. I roll mine about 1/4 of an inch of not thinner and they really puff up nicely after they go into the oven.

1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil (plus more for hands)
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup warm water
2-1/2 cups flour (all-purpose or bread)
pinch of salt

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup sesame seeds

1. In a small bowl add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, yeast and water. Allow to sit until frothy for 5 minutes.

2. In a small saucepan on medium heat add milk and sugar, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside, add rose water and stir.

3. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, cardamom and egg, mix. Pour yeast mixture and milk mix into the bowl and quickly mix together. If the dough is dry add a little cold milk until a sticky dough consistency is obtained. Knead for a few minutes and roll into a ball. Place dough back into the bowl and add a small amount of oil into hands and rub on top of the dough. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 4 hours.

4. Punch dough down and divide into 3 even parts. On a non-stick baking mat shape each piece into a rectangle. You can use a rolling pin if needed. With a knife carefully make 4 slits into the dough (one near each corner). Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

5. Pre-heat oven to 375F. In a small bowl add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water, mix well. Carefully brush mixture on top of dough then sprinkle seeds on top. Place the churek onto a parchment paper or non-stick baking mat lined baking sheet into the oven. Cook for 15-17 minutes until golden.

Yields: 3 pieces

Habek Tea



When I first came to Saudi I was offered tea by my mother in law. It was a new taste that I had never had before and I absolutely loved it. Later that evening before we left she handed me a large box filled with a dried herb and explained that it was habek and how I would go about making the tea myself at home. Habek is the Saudis favorite way to serve tea, and if you have had the pleasure of trying it then you know why.

Throughout the Warm months you will find fresh habek in all the grocery stores. And so they can have it all year around the women always dry a big batch to last. I am sure you’re wondering what in the heck habek is to begin with. Well, so was I so a few years ago. I did tons of research until I discovered what it was. If you ask a Saudi what the name is in English they will have no idea not even those who speak fluently. Everyone just knows it as habek. I found out that the English names are in fact horse mint or wild mint.

The herb looks a lot different from fresh mint. It has a lighter color and the leaves are tall and skinny. You make it the same way as you would mint tea (another Saudi favorite) and you dry it the same as well. I have never heard of this being sold anywhere else but I am sure you could grow it in your home. My mom grows all kinds of various mint back home (pineapple, chocolate, etc.). Hey, I had no idea mint came in all of those flavors as well until my mom introduced them to me. She says mint grows very easy, fast and all over the place. Aren’t these teacups so pretty? They match my Dullah set that I got from Aura!

4 black tea bags
4 cups water
1 bunch of habek mint, cleaned or 2 teaspoons dried
sugar to taste

1. Pour cold water in a tea kettle on high heat cook until boiling. Place habek and tea bags into water and steep for 5 minutes.

Yields: 4-6 cups

*updated from 9/14/10