Garden-Fresh Recipes from Maro Nalabandian

My newly discovered cousin, Maro Nalabandian, was the guest chef at the University
of Maryland’s Master Garden “Grow It; Eat It” open house event. 



A master
gardener herself, Maro demonstrated how to make a variety of recipes which
focused on the theme, ’From the Garden to the Kitchen Table’. Her recipes
included: Cool and Refreshing Yogurt Drink with Mint, Garden Fresh Greek Orzo
Salad, Herb Frittata/Omelet, Fines Herbs Butter, and Macerated Fruit in
Sweetened Lemon Verbena Syrup. (See below)


Throughout her career, Maro has cooked alongside many
celebrity chefs.  She has also worked at
Michel Richard Citronelle and The Ritz Carlton, and has taught at L’Academie de
Cuisine. She volunteers for Martha’s Table, DC Central Kitchen and Manna Foods.  In addition, Maro has a large community garden
plot where she grows vegetables and herbs which are later used in her creative
cooking and recipe testing.
I thank Maro for sharing her recipes with us at The Armenian
Kitchen
!

Maro pouring the yogurt drink

Cool
and Refreshing Yogurt Drink with Mint

Ingredients:
32 oz.  Whole milk,
Plain Greek Yogurt
1 tsp. Sea Salt, or as needed
2 ½ cups bottled ice cold Water, or more liquid to taste
1 tsp. dried Mint, crushed between fingers
1 Tbsp. fresh Mint leaves, finely minced
Ice Cubes
 Directions:
~In a large bowl, empty and whip yogurt till smooth and
silky and there are no lumps
~Add the salt, the fresh mint leaves, as well as the
crushed, dried mint to the yogurt
~ Slowly pour water while whisking
~Give a taste test, then pour into a pitcher with ice and serve

 Garden
Fresh Greek Orzo Salad
Ingredients:
1 lb. Orzo, cooked according to directions in
packaging
3 Cloves Garlic, crushed and finely minced
Juice and zest of 1 Lemon
½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp. Sea Salt, as needed
¼ tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper, as needed
½ a Medium Red Onion, finely chopped
½ cup of Kalamata Olives, pitted and halved
10 oz. Grape Tomatoes, sliced in halves
2 cups garden fresh Cucumbers, diced in cubes
1 ½ cups imported Feta crumbled in pieces
1/3 cup of Fresh Mint leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup Greek Oregano, finely chopped
1/3 cup Parsley, finely chopped
4 cups spinach fresh from your garden or 1pkg. fresh
organic mini spinach
 Directions:
~In a large serving bowl, empty the drained and cooked
Orzo, set aside to cool
~In a Pyrex glass measuring cup, add the garlic, lemon
juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper, then whisk the vinaigrette while drizzling
in the olive oil, 
~Into the cooled Orzo bowl, add the salad ingredients and
the vinaigrette, then mix all together and serve

Maro chopping herbs
Herb
Frittata/Omelet
Ingredients:
5 Eggs, whipped
1 small Zucchini, grated
1 bunch Parsley Leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried Mint
¼ cup fresh Mint leaves, chopped
½ bunch Scallions, finely diced, as needed
½ tsp. Salt, as needed
¼ tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, finely minced
½ tsp. Marash Red Pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
 Directions:
~In a large bowl, whip the eggs
~Add all the above ingredients (except the olive oil),
whip till frothy
~In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil
~Empty all the ingredients into the skillet and cook
until bottom is golden and has set
~Slide omelet into a large plate
~Turn the pan over on top of the plate while holding
tightly, and turn over the plate to cook the other side of the omelet in the
pan
~Let it cook till golden, then empty on a serving dish
and cut the omelet in pie shaped wedges and serve

Fines
Herbs Butter
Ingredients:
1 lb. unsalted Butter, room temperature
1tsp. Sea salt, or as needed
1 Tbsp. Chives, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Tarragon, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Flat leaf Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Chervil, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried Thyme crushed between fingers (opt.)
1 tsp. Anchovy paste (opt.)
French Baguette, thinly sliced and toasted
1 bunch fresh Radishes, washed and thinly sliced (opt.)
 Directions:
~Whip butter in mixer or processor with all the items
above
~Give a taste test to adjust flavoring
~To Serve: Empty Fines Herbs Butter mixture in a bowl,
spread a bit of the Herb Butter on the baguette and top with a radish slice
~To Freeze: Empty butter mixture on to a long cut plastic
wrap and roll as a sausage and twist both ends, double wrap and freeze
~When ready to use, remove from freezer, let it stay at
room temperature, or refrigerate till soft enough to cut in slices, and make a
circular butter plate of it.

Macerated
Fruit in Sweetened Lemon Verbena
Ingredients:
1 cup Sugar
½ cup Bottled Water
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon juice
1 cup Lemon Verbena leaves, packed
1 lb. Strawberries, washed
¼ cup Fresh Mint leaves

Directions:
~In a small saucepan, add sugar, water, lemon juice, and
bring to boil
~Add the lemon verbena leaves
~Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let it
cool
~Meanwhile, quarter the strawberries into a wide bowl
~Remove the verbena leaves from the syrup
~Drizzle the syrup over the Strawberries, mix 
~Slice the fresh mint leaves very thinly and sprinkle
over the strawberries
~Serve with whipped cream and crumbles or shortbread
(opt.)
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