Special Diet Information

Coumadin® (Warfarin)
This recipe is NOT safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users.

This recipe contains cheese and some of those who are lactose intolerant may be able to tolerate it.

This is NOT a low sodium recipe.

GERD / Acid Reflux
No specific GERD triggers.

Gluten Sensitivity
This recipe is safe for those who are sensitive to gluten.


"The Mediterranean has the color of mackerel, changeable I mean. You don't always know if it is green or violet, you can't even say it's blue, because the next moment the changing reflection has taken on a tint of rose or gray."
-Vincent Van Gogh, Painter

The refrigerator light goes on...

I had this dish at a small Mediterranean diner called Mona’s. It was delicious and I certainly wanted to recreate it. It is so good for you and chock full of monounsaturated fats as well as veggies and fiber. It is higher in sodium as many dishes with rice are. Quite simply, rice requires the addition of salt to make the flavor pop and this adds a fair amount. Even though it is higher in sodium than most of my dishes, it is much less than what I tasted at Mona’s as most chefs tend to over salt their food.


There are so many different kinds of squash it's almost like having to take a high school biology test. I know them all because growing up I was one of those weird kids that actually liked squash.

The squash in this recipe is shaped like a big green acorn. As the squash ages the skin turns a mottled orange yellow color so choose those that are more green than yellow. It should be firm with no dark or gray spots and tapping it should result in a sound that is hollow not dull. This recipe is a variation of one that I had growing up – my dad loved acorn squash cooked this way.

Yellow squash (what I called summer squash growing up) is one of my favorites. I love the soups made with it (see Spring Bisque) and the roasted parmesan squash but my favorite is simply sliced into rounds and steamed. Look for medium sized squash no more than about eight inches long. Larger ones are tougher and dry. The skin should be unblemished.

I love zucchini too. In fact, the vegetables I served on opening night in my restaurant were slices of yellow squash and zucchini steamed with a little bit of marjoram butter. I had one diner who came to the kitchen to ask how this was prepared. When I told him that the vegetables were simply steamed he wouldn't believe me and insisted that we had used white wine or some other secret ingredient. The rules for choosing zukes are the same as with yellow squash – small to medium size and unblemished skin.

There are dozens of other types of squash (hopefully I can cover them in the next book) but one that I love is the pattypan or scallop squash. You may have seen these in the market. The yellow ones look like small flattened summer squash and the green ones like little zucchinis. They are great steamed and served as a side dish. Because they are small they are sweet and tender. Just a bit of herbed butter and you're good to go.




Mona's Sauteed Veggie Plate

Servings = 2 | Serving size =about 3 cups veggies with 1/2 cup saffron rice

Cooking Time = 30 Minutes

This recipe can be multiplied by 2, 3, 4, 5.

This recipe does not make very good leftovers.

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
30 threads saffron
1/2 cup jasmine rice
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cauliflower (cut into small flowerets)
2 Tbsp pine nuts
3/4 cup celery - about 2 large stalks (diced)
1 medium yellow squash (diced)
1 medium zucchini (1/4 inch dice)
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp dried mint
2 ounces sheep's milk feta cheese (crumbled)

In a medium sauce pan, heat the water, salt and saffron. When the water boils stir in the jasmine rice.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 15 minutes.

Do not boil away all of the liquid and do not stir the rice.

When a very small amount of liquid remains, remove the pan from the burner and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

While the rice is cooking dice the veggies.

Place the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and the pine nuts. Sauté, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower begins to turn a golden brown (adjust the heat to not let either the cauliflower or nuts burn).

Add the celery as the cauliflower is browned and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes. Add the squash, zucchini, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, marjoram and mint.

Cook over medium to medium-high heat for about 10 - 15 minutes tossing frequently.

When ready to serve divide the rice evenly in the center of two plates. Surround the rice with the cooked veggies and then sprinkle one ounce of crumbled feta cheese over the top of the cooked vegetables on each plate.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size = about 3 cups veggies with 1/2 cup saffron rice

Servings = 2


Amount Per Serving

Calories 451 Calories from Fat 189
  % Daily Value
Total Fat 22g 33%
    Saturated Fat 6g 31%
    Monounsaturated Fat 10g
    Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 959mg 40%
Total Carbohydrates 55g 18%
    Dietary Fiber 8g 31%
    Sugars 6g
Protein 13g
Vitamin A 19% Vitamin C 102%
Calcium 27% Iron 31%
Vitamin K 54 mcg Potassium 1068 mg
Magnesium 108 mg