Thursday, August 1, 2013

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
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
~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
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
~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
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
~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
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.)
~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
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

~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.)


  1. I wish for the great of success in all of our destiny endeavors

  2. Their impressive collaboration skills go make them stand apart from their competitors.