Contributed by Ronnie Blair
International cuisine can seem intimidating to anyone who’s not a top chef.
But in reality, it’s not difficult to add a pinch of foreign flavor to your kitchen, says Blakely Trettenero, a chef, world traveler and host of Cooking for Bimbos (www.cookingforbimbos.com) and Hungry for Travels (www.hungryfortravels.com).
Trettenero, who makes difficult dishes easy on her cooking website with the tongue-in-check name, has visited more than 30 countries and made many food discoveries along the way.
“While in Italy, I realized pasta in the United States is second rate,” says Trettenero, who has been featured on several TV shows. “That dried stuff we buy in a box doesn’t cut it. If you’ve ever had homemade pasta, you know what I mean.”
Once, after a night of dancing in Greece, Trettenero and others worked up an appetite and at 6 a.m. landed at a restaurant that never closes on Mykonos Harbor.
“We ordered this amazing chicken soup with fresh lemon juice squeezed on it,” she says. “It was unreal.”
Here are two recipes from Trettenero to help bring a taste of international cuisine to your home.
Thai Style Quinoa Salad
• 3 cups water
• 1 1/2 cups quinoa
• 1/4 red cabbage head, sliced thin
• 1/2 cucumber, diced
• 3 scallions, sliced
• 1 carrot, shredded
• 1 red bell pepper, diced
• 1 cup thawed edamame
• Juice from 3 limes
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
• 3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• Chopped fresh cilantro
• Chopped unsalted peanuts
• Grilled Chicken
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. Put cooked quinoa in large mixing bowl. Add sliced cabbage, diced cucumber, shredded carrot, sliced scallion, edamame, and diced red bell pepper
In small bowl, mix the lime juice, minced garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, honey, and vegetable oil
Add the vinaigrette to the quinoa and mix everything until combined and coated in the vinaigrette
Serve in a bowl and add optional toppings.
Mediterranean Orzo Soup
• Olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
• 2 scallions, sliced thin
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 3/4 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
• 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
• 1 bag (6 oz.) baby spinach
• Juice of a lemon
In heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil on medium high. Add garlic and scallions. Cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock to pot and turn on high. Let it come to boil. Add uncooked orzo, garbanzo beans, and zest of lemon. Stir and let cook on high for 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken, spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Give another quick stir and serve. Once in a bowl you can top it with shaved Parmesan, pepper, and an extra squeeze of lemon.
About Blakely Trettenero
She also is a world traveler, having visited more than 30 countries, and is becoming a frequent guest on TV.
Top feature image: Blakely Trettenero