Festive Winter Dinner

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Festive Winter Dinner

Za’Atar-Crusted Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Molasses

Lamb dusted with sesame seeds and a Middle Eastern spice mix and grilled or broiled. Tangy pomegranate molasses is the finishing touch.


Za’atar Spice Mixture:

¼ cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons sumac powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1½ teaspoons sea salt
1½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon dry thyme
4 4-ounce lamb chops
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate 
molasses (or pomegranate syrup)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread sesame seeds on baking sheet and roast in oven for 5 minutes or until seeds are golden. Cool.
  2. Combine sesame seeds, sumac powder, oregano, marjoram, salt, ground fennel, cayenne pepper and thyme in a clean coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind briefly. Do not over-mix: Mixture should be coarse.
  3. Dust each chop with 2 teaspoons spice mixture.
  4. Preheat grill or broiler.
  5. Grill or broil lamb until cooked through, 5 minutes per side.
  6. Drizzle 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses over each lamb chop.

Makes 4 servings of lamb, each containing approximately:

280 calories
7gm. carbohydrate
13 gm. fat
99 mg. cholesterol
19 gm. protein
31 mg. sodium
546 gm. fiber

Roasted Fennel

Roasted with just a bit of olive oil and black pepper, this winter vegetable is a revelation.


¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut fennel bulb into quarters. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place on baking pan and roast for about 20 minutes or until fennel just begins to brown.
  4. Add ½ cup of water to pan and cover with aluminum foil. Return to oven and continue to roast until soft, about another 20 minutes.

Makes 4 servings, each containing approximately:

20 calories
4 gm. carbohydrate
Trace fat
0 mg. cholesterol
1 gm. protein
146 mg. sodium
2 gm. fiber

Grilled Polenta

Quick-cooking polenta makes this delicate Northern Italian comfort food a snap. Cool, slice and grill for a dramatic presentation.


¾ cup diced onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 quart low-fat milk
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cane sugar
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil


  1. Lightly coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with olive oil.
  2. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in butter until translucent. Add milk and bring to a simmer. Add salt, pepper and cane sugar and stir well. Sprinkle in polenta and continue to stir until all ingredients are combined. Simmer until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add cheese and mix until melted. Pour into prepared baking pan and let cool. Cut into 12 servings.
  4. Lightly coat a large sauté pan with olive oil. Sauté polenta squares until golden brown on each side.

Makes 12 servings, each containing approximately:

145 calories
16 gm. carbohydrate
6 gm. fat
17 mg. cholesterol
6 gm. protein
329 mg. sodium
1 gm. fiber

Ajiaco Soup

This delectable, warming soup is a unique blend of mildly spicy flavors in a creamy coconut-milk base.


2 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, diced
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup diced yellow onions
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
3½ cups chicken stock
¾ cup corn kernels
1 cup diced yucca root or potatoes
1 cup light coconut milk
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 


  1. In a large sauté pan, sauté chicken in canola oil over medium heat until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add paprika and cayenne and cook briefly.
  3. Add chicken stock, corn, yucca root (or potatoes), coconut milk and cooked chicken. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the yucca root is cooked through. Season with salt and lime juice.

Makes 6 (¾-cup) servings, each containing approximately:
150 calories
15 gm. carbohydrate 
5 gm. fat
27 mg. cholesterol
11 gm. protein
344 mg. sodium
1 gm. fiber

Buttermilk Panna Cotta


Fruit Compote:

¾ cup orange segments, peel and pith removed
½ cup blueberries
1½ tablespoons cane sugar

Panna Cotta:

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cane sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg white, about 2 tablespoons
¼ cup heavy cream


  1. In a medium-sized bowl combine ingredients for compote, mix well and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in 2 teaspoons warm water.
  3. Combine 1 tablespoon cane sugar and buttermilk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat just until cane sugar dissolves. Add the dissolved gelatin to mixture and strain into a small bowl. Place small bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice and let mixture set up to the consistency of soft yogurt, about an hour.
  4. Whisk together egg whites and remaining cane sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into gelatin mixture.
  5. Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold into gelatin mixture.
  6. Scoop ¼-cup portions of panna cotta into serving dishes. Spoon ¼ cup fruit compote around each serving of panna cotta.

Makes 4 servings, each containing approximately:
175 calories
25 gm. carbohydrates
7 gm. fat
25 mg. cholesterol
4 gm. protein 
53 mg. sodium
2 gm. Fiber