Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aioli

I rarely shop at Gelson’s market because it’s a little out of my budget. But sometimes, I splurge and swing by the one close to my Mom’s and buy some food to take to eat at her house when I visit. I am so impressed by their deli case. They have so many options and Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Lemon Aiolitheir side salad recipes are inspiring. Last time I was there, they had a huge platter of grilled artichokes in lemon aioli. I love that word, “aioli”. But let’s face it – basically it’s mayo. But “aioli” does sound so much more exotic. After tasting them, I realized it would be really easy to recreate the recipe – so I did. Now I make these frequently. Lately, I’ve been on a diet and artichoke hearts (as long as they aren’t stored in oil) are on my limited ‘free’ foods list – so I keep these in the fridge to snack on.  


Lemon Aioli Recipe:

  • 1/2 Cup Mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Agave or Brown Sugar
  • (Optional) Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped

Lemon Aioli Recipe

I use the canned artichokes in water from Trader Joe’s. Drain, grill, cool and mix with the aioli. Chill until ready to eat. 

Italian Sliced Fennel Salad

Sometimes when I’m posting something ridiculously easy to make here, I think – does this even constitute a real recipe? But this is a classic Italian side dish and I had never tried it. Now, I cannot get enough of it. It is so simple and yet so delicious and healthy. No wonder Italians make it all the time.  So it makes me happy to share it with my family. While this recipe just uses fennel, I’ve been told from one of my Italian friends that her mother used to add raw mushrooms sliced extra thin to the dish – and I’ve read that others add sliced onions. It’s a great side dish and now a staple on my table or when we bring a side dish to a barbecue or other outdoor Summer event.

Traditional Italian Sliced Fennel



  • 1-2 Fennel Bulbs
  • Fruity Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • Fresh shaved parmesan cheese 
  • Salt and Pepper


1. Cut the green stalks and the hard bottom off of the fennel bulbs. 

2. Rinse the fennel bulbs well to remove any dirt or sand.

3. Slice thin.

4. Spread out onto a large plate.

5. Drizzle olive oil , lemon juice and salt and pepper on top. 

6. Then, shave the parmesan cheese on top. Done.

Muhammara Dip : Delicious Red Pepper and Walnut Recipe

Recently, I had to pick up dinner after work before I went to rehearsal. I stopped into a new restaurant in Beverly Hills that looked like a Deli. I had found a parking spot right in front and just wanted to run in and out and take my sandwich or salad with me. Once inside, I realized the restaurant served salads along with Middle Eastern fare. I looked down into the deli case and there it was – a large ceramic dish filled with something I had

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Walnut Dip. Delish!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Walnut Dip. Delish!

never heard of before, Muhammara Dip. They were nice enough to offer me a taste of it. It was one of the most delicious dips I had ever had. I immediately had to go home and research what the ingredients in this dip were and make it.


It turns out Muhamarra is served all over the Middle East including Turkey and supposedly the recipe originated in Syria. Either way, since it can be made quickly in a blender using all natural ingredients, it is now a healthy recipe to be made in my kitchen regularly here in the good old USA. Like the other recipes I post here, you can easily change up the quantities of ingredients to your liking and it will still turn out delicious. Don’t like hot dishes? Omit the spicy pepper. Prefer it less sweet? Then add less Pomegranate Syrup. Speaking of Pomegranate Syrup, you can find it in ethnic markets rather easily here in Los Angeles or even in health food stores where it’s offered as a healthy supplement to be taken in spoonfuls. I always have Pomegranate Juice from Trader Joes in my fridge for various reasons, one of which includes vodka. I just reduce the juice down on a low flame until it becomes a syrup. But it is certainly much easier to purchase the syrup.



  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar Roasted Red Bell Peppers 
  • 3 Tablespoons Pomegranate Syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oli
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Pinch (or more if you like it spicy) Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 
  • Squeeze of Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt



Add all ingredients with the exception of the oil into a food processor or blender. Blend until mixed and then add the olive oil slowly into the mix. Cover and chill until ready to serve with Pita Bread or Vegetables like Celery etc…Great option when entertaining guests who eat Vegan or Gluten Free!



Eggplant : Tapanade Recipe

Easy Eggplant Tapanade

Easy Eggplant Tapanade

This is one of my go-to healthy appetizer recipes that can be made quickly or made ahead. Like all of the recipes I post here, you can change it up easily adjusting the measurements or using different spices and seasonings and it will still be easy and delicious. While an eggplant tapanade is usually considered Italian, it is also something commonly seen throughout the Middle East. The spices I use were inspired by an eggplant dish at a Moroccan restaurant we used to go to for special occasions. The vinegar and honey add a great “sweet and sour” element to the recipe.


The only problem with frying eggplant in oil is that it absorbs so much of the oil that it becomes heavy and caloric. I start with a little bit of oil for flavor and add water instead. It

You can replace the tomato paste and honey with ketchup.

You can replace the tomato paste and honey with ketchup.

works great and the eggplant stays moist. 


  • 1 Eggplant, cut into cubes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
  • Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons
  • *Tomato Paste, 4 Tablespoons
  • *Honey, 2 Tablespoons

(*Instead of tomato paste and honey, you can use ketchup.)

  • Capers, 2 Tablespoons 
  • Ground Cumin, 1 Tablespoon 
  • Ground Chili Powder, 1 Tablespoon 
  • Fresh Basil and/or Fresh Cilantro chopped


Slice the Eggplant into rounds first, then into cubes.

Slice the Eggplant into rounds first, then into cubes.

Slice the eggplant into rounds and then into cubes.

Tear the red pepper open and remove the step and seeds with your hands.

Chop the onion. 




Heat the oil in the pan and add the vegetables. Stir.

Add a little water (1/3 of a cup or so) and continue to cook on a low flame. Stir. 

Add more water as needed to keep the pan moist, not dry.


Use water in addition to the oil so the tapanade stays moist, not oilyl.

Use water in addition to the oil so the tapanade stays moist, not oily.

When eggplant is soft, add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Cool and serve with crusty bread, crackers or endive leaves if you eat gluten free.