Loubia — Moroccan White Bean and Tomato Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Loubia — Moroccan White Bean and Tomato Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Delish Mediterranean dishes reinvent tradition ‘instantly’

Emily Paster’s new cookbook takes traditional Mediterranean recipes and reinvents how to cook them using one of two modern kitchen time-savers — either the electric pressure cooker (such as the Instant Pot) or the air fryer.

“Instantly Mediterranean: Vibrant, Satisfying Recipes for Your Instant Pot, Electric Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer” (Tiller Press) features 100 recipes, including many Jewish favorites from Israel and elsewhere (such as shakshouka, Turkish stuffed cabbage, Moroccan tagines and cheesecakes). Paster tells you what buttons to push and exactly how to use these appliances in her recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, breads and desserts from Europe, the Levant, North Africa and elsewhere around the Mediterranean. Most recipes are kosher or adaptable and Paster offers many vegetarian and vegan choices.

Below are her recipes (adapted for space, style and to reflect my experience making them) for Loubia, a thick and fragrant bean and tomato soup, and moist and flavorful Lamb and Bulgur Kofta. Find preserved lemons and fine-ground bulgur in specialty, Middle Eastern or online markets.

Loubia (Moroccan White Bean and Tomato Soup)

Serves 4 as a main course

Adapted from “Instantly Mediterranean”

  • 1 lb. dried white beans (see notes)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. diced preserved lemon rind, optional
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ¼  tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼  tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water

Cover beans in several inches of cold water. Stir in 1 tsp. salt. Soak overnight. When ready to use, drain beans and discard water.

Pour oil in the inner pot of electric pressure cooker. Select “sauté” function and set heat to “less.” When oil is shimmering, after about 2 minutes, add onion. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, preserved lemon, garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Press “cancel” to turn off sauté function.

Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Grate the cut sides on the coarse side of a box grater down to skin. Discard skin. Stir pulp into onions.

Stir in beans and broth. Close lid. Make sure pressure valve is closed. Select “pressure cook” function and set cooking time for 10 minutes at high pressure.

When the cooking program is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove lid. Taste soup, adding salt as needed. Serve hot.

Notes: I used navy beans, but Great Northern or cannellini are fine. I serve the soup with lemon wedges and topped with grated tomato.

Lamb and Bulgur Kofta

Serves 4

Adapted from “Instantly Mediterranean”

  • ½ cup fine-ground bulgur
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • ½ medium onion, grated
  • ¼ cup, packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, mint, or a combination
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Oil spray
Lamb and Bulgur Kofta (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Lamb and Bulgur Kofta (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Mix bulgur with boiling water in bowl. Let stand 7 minutes. Measure out ½ cup for recipe. Discard or save remainder.

With hands, mix bulgur with lamb, onion, herbs, salt, cumin, paprika, allspice and cinnamon. Wet hands. Form lamb into 8 tightly packed, oval patties. Place on plate, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

When ready to cook, preheat air fryer to 400 degrees for 3 minutes. Spray basket with oil. Place 4 patties in basket. Cook at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Patties should be well browned, firm but not hard, and register 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from air fryer and drain on paper towels. Repeat.

Serve warm, with pitas and tahini sauce if desired.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].